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Problems with a program that won't install can be tricky. It's important to capture the exact wording of any error messages you are receiving.

I purchased an HP computer with Windows 7 in February of 2012. For some reason now, I have Mozilla Firefox and it continues to crash so I'd like to uninstall it. When I go to the Control Panel to try to uninstall, I get a message that reads, "The program running has to finish first." I don't know what this is. I also downloaded an uninstaller. When I run it, it seems to hang up on deleting the files. I did get it to a finish place and it told me I should buy the full version. I even did it as Mozilla advised and downloaded a newer version except that it doesn't seem to have downloaded, as I can't finish anything. I am majorly confused.

Well, there are definitely some things that are confusing about your problem, but I'm also a bit perplexed by the details of your question.

First, I suspect that the error message, "The program running has to finish first" is not exactly what your computer displayed. I know that it may seem picky, but when you're trying to get to the bottom of a problem like this, it's really important to remember the exact wording of the error message.

Why error messages are important

You see, error messages don't just tell you what's wrong with your computer. They're written so help desk, tech support, and someone like... well, me might be able to understand what's happening with a more complicated problem like this.

Fortunately, based on what you described, I have a few ideas about how you can fix this.

Typically, when there's a message about a program needing to finish first, it means exactly what it says: the program may be in the process of closing down, even if it's not actually visible on the screen. Or the program that you're trying to uninstall or perhaps a previous run of the uninstaller itself is still running and needs to finish first.

But this problem is usually resolved by rebooting your machine.

Step 1: Reboot your machine

Rebooting your machine is usually the first fix for problems like this. If you haven't done this yet, reboot your machine when you run into this error message and see if this doesn't immediately allow you to uninstall the software.

For now, I'm going to assume that you've done this at least once. So, let's talk about the uninstaller that you have.

Step 2: Try an uninstallation program

There are several different uninstallation programs that you could be using. Revo is one that I use and recommend frequently.

But you're reporting that the uninstaller hangs while it does its job. This points to the same problem - that there's a program running that the uninstaller can't close.

Again, this is also resolved by rebooting your machine. If you've done this already, I recommend that you reboot one more time and then run Process Explorer.

Step 3: Run Process Explorer

With Process Explorer, you can see what software is actually running on your machine and more importantly, whether something related to Firefox is still running. At that point, you could use Process Explorer to kill the program and then run the uninstallation program again.

Step 4: Download and install the program again

Now, the last item that you tried, downloading the latest version of Firefox, is a great idea. In fact, this is exactly what I recommend in most situations like this.

But downloading isn't enough - this transfers the installer program from Mozilla's download server to your machine. It doesn't actually install anything. So, you need to run the file that you just downloaded.

Step 5: If the error persists, write down the warning messages

When you run the installation program that you download, you will probably see a number of warning messages if the problem is still present. If that happens, make sure that you grab the exact error messages in the order that they appear. That's the kind of information that people like me really need in order to help.

Article C6400 - April 12, 2013 «

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Alex Dow
April 16, 2013 9:01 AM

Boot up in SAFE MODE and try Uninstalling again.

Press F8 (Function Key 8) repeatedly as the PC starts.

Select "Safe Mode" from the Menu that appears.

Wait until fully booted, "Safe Mode" should show in the four corners of the screen.

A HELP Panel will follow, generally on the right of the screen.

Then go through the UNINSTALL procedure again.


Occasionally, "Safe Mode with Networking" may be the required option.

April 16, 2013 9:19 AM

This is the sort of question that would best be handled in one of the Firefox support forums such as or First, either place could help you with the crashing if you want to keep firefox (this is usually trivial) and second folks around these forums have experience with the problem. This is less a system issue and more of an application specific issue.

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