Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Most software installed on your machine should provide a mechanism for uninstalling. If not, there are ways but they require caution and a good backup.
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 option.
Here's what I would suggest when dealing with this situation.
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 the program.
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.
If you're not sure, consider not uninstalling the software at all, or looking at alternative solutions to address the reasons you want to uninstall.
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. :-)