Adobe Captivate 3 crashes on opening

October 5, 2010


My server was quite sick, so it was in the shop for the migration of data to the new server. As a result, some usual directory paths that certain applications used were not available. After looking for the now non-existent server path for a short while, most of my applications would come back and ask me to select another path/location for the data.


However, when I started Adobe Captivate 3 it crashed on opening with one error message after another. I had to stop the continual error messages by killing the Captivate process in Task Manager.

I suspected that perhaps it was looking for a template or files from the recently used file list that were on the no-longer-attached server.

But as I couldn’t open Captivate past the initial splash screen, I couldn’t set anything from within Captivate itself.

Things I tried

I tried lots of things to try to get Captivate to open, and, with the help of @AdobeELearning and @mikestarrwriter on Twitter, some Googling, and some of my own knowledge, I got it to work (see Solutions below). However, in the journey to that end, I tried several options that were suggested by others on Twitter, various forums, etc. I’ve documented them here in case any one of them helps you if you have a similar problem:

  • Checked for a Repair option in Add/remove programs: There isn’t one! The only option is Remove.
  • Tried reinstalling Captivate 3: I had the CD for Captivate 3, so I thought I’d try reinstalling it. That didn’t work — I got errors that it couldn’t find the server path and it crashed.
  • Tried uninstalling Captivate 3: Because I had the CD, I figured I could uninstall it then reinstall it afresh. Nope. Again I got an error message about a non-existent server path. But this time the error message included a different error number: Error 1606. That was a big clue to the final resolution.
  • Investigated the purchase of an upgrade to Captivate 5: That wasn’t an option. Adobe won’t let you buy from their US store at US prices unless you have a US address, and US-originating Visa card, and/or a US PayPal account. I’ve written before about Adobe’s atrocious price gouging policies for people outside the US so I wasn’t prepared to hand over a highly inflated upgrade price to a local company for the exact same product! Also, the download was 1.5 GB, and on my current slow connection that would’ve taken many many hours.
  • Deleted the preferences files: @AdobeELearning alerted me to the existence of Captivate’s preferences files but it took me a while to find them. The files are Captivate_v30.dat and MenuBuilder.dat and they are found in your <user>/application data/adobe folder (see http://bit.ly/c4AaGH for Captivate 3 details on XP or http://bit.ly/9loZlA for Captivate 4 details on Vista). I copied these files to another location in the expectation that they’d be re-created on restarting Captivate. That didn’t work for me — they weren’t recreated and Captivate continued to crash on opening.
  • Modified the preferences files: I copied the original files (above) and made changes to the copies. They were DAT files, so I opened them both in a text editor and did a Find for all instances of the server path, replacing it with a local path. Restarted Captivate. Crash.
  • Submitted a bug report to Adobe: @AdobeELearning sent me the link to submit a bug report to Adobe: http://bit.ly/bDIfqZ. I knew that wouldn’t make any difference, but I felt better for doing so! ;-)

So no matter what I did, Adobe Captivate 3 couldn’t be repaired, wouldn’t install over the existing installation, and wouldn’t uninstall. Shifting or changing the preference files made no difference either. All my Adobe Captivate files/projects are on my local drive, so WHY does it look for the server and crash when it can’t find it? @mikestarrwriter suggested it might be a Registry setting.

The clue to the solution was in the Error 1606 message I had when I tried to uninstall Captivate 3…


I Googled Error 1606 and found a Microsoft Knowledge Base article about it:  http://bit.ly/cZSrQA. As a result, I checked the Registry for the settings they discuss in that article and found that my ‘Personal’ and ‘My Music’ settings were pointing to the server, not to my local drive. I change these settings in the Registry to point to a local drive, and restarted Captivate. It opened!!!

However, Captivate didn’t work properly. I could create a new project from a template, and save it, but I couldn’t  insert images or objects. And on closing I started getting continual error messages again. <sigh>

Then I remembered that I’d modified the preferences files, so I copied back the originals and all worked fine. I’ve since created a new project, added images, added objects, adjusted timelines, published etc. and all seems to be working 100% again.

I have no idea why my Registry entries for two Windows settings, which appear to be unrelated to Captivate, caused the problem in the first place, but they did.

Some 2+ hours later and I can open and use Captivate 3. A simple error message on the first crash alerting me to the probable cause (looking for a server path that it can’t find), and an option to choose another path would’ve solved all this without me having to tear my hair out in frustration.

[Links last checked September 2010; many thanks to @mikestarrwriter and @AdobeElearning for helping me solve this issue by pointing me in certain directions. No thanks to Adobe and Microsoft who are still not playing nice!]

One comment

  1. […] this means is that when I try to open some of the software on my PC, it either crashes (as Adobe Captivate 3 did), asks me to log in to the now non existent server (but doesn’t offer me any way to […]

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