How to Get Rid of Unwanted Programs

How to Uninstall Programs in Windows

When you install a program under Windows, the following two things happen:

  1. The files that are needed to run the program are copied onto your computer, usually to "C:Program Files".
  2. The Windows registry is updated with configuration information for the program installed. The Windows Registry is a file that stores your computer's configuration settings.

That said, it is important that you do not attempt to delete a program by only deleting the folder in "C:Program Files"! This will only delete the files associated with the program, leaving all of it’s configuration information intact in the Windows registry. This means that Windows still thinks the program is installed and you’re likely to run into errors and in some instances can even crash your computer.

Windows provides an "Add/Remove Programs" application to completely remove programs and all of their configuration files – this is what you should use when you want to get rid of installed software. You will need to be logged into your PC using an account with administrative permissions for the following steps to work.

1. Open the control panel by clicking "Start"->"Settings"->"Control Panel" or "Start"->"Control Panel" (See the images below).

2. Click "Add/Remove Programs"

3. This will open the "Add/Remove Programs" box. This displays a list of all the programs currently installed on your computer. To remove a program, just click it and then click the “remove” button to the right as seen below.

4. The next screen you see depends on the program you’ve chosen to uninstall – it will usually be a set of options that allows you to modify, repair, or remove the application. Select "Remove" and click "Next". Some programs will ask you to select between a manual and an automatic uninstall: in that case select "automatic".

5. You're done! Assuming that you didn’t get any errors you should now restart your computer. Once you’ve removed a program it cannot be reinstalled without the original installation disk or file.

What to do if the program isn’t listed in the "Add/Remove Programs" list

Occasionally you may endeavour to remove a program only to find that it is not listed in the "Add/Remove Programs" dialogue box. This usually happens when a program is not installed correctly, or when the program is trying to deliberately hide itself from you as would be the case with spyware (Learn how to get rid of spyware). Your have several options at this point:

Reinstall it:

Before manually attempting to erase the program from your computer see if you can find the original file or disk that you installed it from and install it again OVER itself and then look for it again in the "Add/Remove Programs" box. If the program was not showing up in the "Add/Remove Programs" list because it was installed incorrectly then this will usually fix the issue and add it to the list so it can be successfully uninstalled.

Contact the manufacturer:

If reinstalling the program fails, your next step should be to contact the software’s manufacturer for uninstallation instructions. You might also have some luck searching the internet. (Tips on how to search the internet).

Manually uninstall it:

If all else fails, then you can attempt to manually uninstall it. Be VERY careful, if you delete the wrong files you can render your entire computer unusable! If you are not absolutely sure of what you are doing you should find somebody who is experienced and get them to do it for you.

  1. Delete the program’s folder in "C:Program Files".
  2. If the program used to be launched automatically when Windows starts, you may see some errors the next time Windows starts after you've deleted the program's files. To stop these errors from occurring, find and remove all references to the program in your start menu: "Start"->"All Programs"->"Startup".
  3. Clean your registry. WARNING: It is VERY easy to hose your entire computer by doing the smallest thing wrong in your registry. Continue AT YOUR OWN RISK! If you are unsure about this step, just skip it. It’s better to leave some pieces in the registry rather than risk corrupting your whole system! (Tips on how to get rid of registry errors)
    • From your desktop, click "Start"->"Run".
    • Type "regedit" into the box without quotes and press "enter".
    • Navigate to "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWARE" and find the key for the application. Delete the folder. (This folder may exist or not. If it doesn't exist, don't delete anything)
    • Navigate to "HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWARE" and find the key for the application. Delete the folder. (This folder may exist or not. If it doesn't exist, don't delete anything)
    • Navigate to "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows- CurrentVersionUninstall" and find the key for the application. Delete the folder. (This folder may exist or not. If it doesn't exist, don't delete anything)
    • Navigate to "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESystemCurrentControlSetServices", locate and delete the program's entry if it exists.
    • Navigate to "HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionWindows" and delete the program's entry if it exists
  4. That's it! You're done
  Click here for more information about how to get rid of unwanted programs

Top How to... Guides

Sorry. No data so far.