How do I uninstall a program that does not show up in the add and
remove section in Win XP? I have programs in various sections of my
computer which i would like to clean out but they either do not show up
on add/remove or they don’t have an uninstaller included. I’m aware
that just deleting software is not a good idea.
And yet, carefully deleting things turns out to be the only real
Here’s what I would suggest when dealing with this situation.
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To be clear the preferred approach to uninstalling software is to
use Control Panel’s “Add/Remove Programs” list (Windows XP) or
“Programs and Features” list (Windows Vista). If the software you’re
attempting to use is in that list, then you should be able to uninstall
it right there.
Alternately, many software packages actually place an “Uninstall”
option in their Start Menu section. If present, use that to uninstall
If neither of those are present, then we need to get creative.
Important: the steps below are designed to
uninstall “typical” software and software that is not a system
component. For example, you can’t uninstall Internet Explorer; it’s a
system component and cannot be completely removed – attempts to do so
will cause problems for Windows itself.
software is to use Control Panel’s ‘Add/Remove Programs’ …”
If you’re not sure, consider not uninstalling the software at all,
or looking at alternative solutions to address the reasons you want to
First things first, it’s always safest to backup at this point. A
system restore point may be a good idea, but in all honesty only a
complete backup will give you complete confidence that you’ll be able
to undo any inadvertent damage.
Next, I would use a program like autoruns, or some other program to
manage startup entries and look for entries related to the program
you’re about to uninstall. If it has auto-run or auto-start entries
simply deleting the program files will result in errors the next time
you start up.
Once those are gone, if there are icons in the system tray related
to this software, right click on them to see if they have an “exit”
option. If you see any other programs currently running that relate to
what you’re about to delete, exit those.
I then would next use process
explorer and look at processes that are running that may be related to
the software you’re about to remove. Not everything that’s running
appears on screen, so there may still be processes that you need to
terminate or exit in some other way.
Finally, once again having made sure to back everything up,
I would delete the “Program Files” folder of the software you’re
attempting to delete and all the contents therein.
Reboot, and check for problems.
Now, you may be asking what files are “related” when checking the
auto-runs, or the system tray or processes. That’s really why uninstall
programs are typically necessary; it’s often difficult to tell. But
your own familiarity with the program you’re deleting and the contents
of the files in its “Program Files” folder should give you most of what
you can identify on your own.
You’ll note also that, aside from startup entries, I’ve not had you
look in the registry at all. That’s on purpose, because it’s simply too
easy to make errors when deleting things in the registry. The good news
is that while this approach may leave unused entries in the registry,
they’re rarely a problem and don’t impact system performance.
Bottom line: if you can use an uninstall provided by the
manufacturer of the software you’re attempting to get rid of, then by
all means do so. If not, then backup and try deleting things manually.
Manual deletion will typically still leave remnants, but normally
they’re also inconsequential.
Or you could just leave it installed. :-)