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Add/Remove programs is a database entry that should be completed when a program is installed on your computer. If not, you need another way to uninstall.

Why do some applications appear on the Add/Remove list on the Control Panel while others do not?

In this excerpt from Answercast #71, I look at how programs get added to the uninstall list and options when they don't.

Why is there no uninstall?

Very simply because the applications did or did not put themselves there.

As it turns out, the Add/Remove Control Panel applet is really a front end to a little bit of a database that individual applications have to add themselves to. So for example, when you install something (like say, Microsoft Office), it's the Microsoft Office set-up program that makes sure that its entry in the Add/Remove list is correct, is there, and is available to be used later if you want to change or remove Microsoft Office.

Now, most programs that you install using a setup program do exactly that. It's actually a side effect of setting up the program - where they will go through the motions; go through the steps to add themselves properly to the add/remove programs list.

Programs not on the list

Sometimes, they don't. Sometimes, they don't - and they provide an uninstall application of their own that you might access through whatever entries they may have added to the Start menu.

Sometimes, they don't provide an uninstall option at all. Then you're kind of, sort of stuck. You have to resort to some brute force methods for uninstalling their application.

Uninstalling unlisted programs

What I recommend is: if you're having a problem with an application that does not appear in the Add/Remove Programs list and you want to remove it, I would do two things:

Revo Uninstaller

One, start with Revo Uninstaller and see if it can find the application.

Sometimes, Revo will in fact be able to find traces of the application that will allow it to give the application a good go at uninstalling the application.

Ask the developer

If that doesn't work, then I would actually go to the application vendor (the manufacturer of that program) and say, "Hey, what's the deal? I want to uninstall your program. There's nothing in Add/Remove. There's no uninstall program on the disc. What am I supposed to do?" And see if they have instructions.

Very often they do.

Article C6046 - November 19, 2012 « »

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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.

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3 Comments
Tom
November 20, 2012 9:08 AM

When I've come across programs with no visible uninstall facility, I take the following steps:

1. Use the search function in Windows Explorer and highlight all the relevant folders.
2. Delete the relevant folders as much as possible - sometimes it doesn't let you delete because "the program is still running".
3. Do a hard re-boot. Close down and switch off. After a minute, restart and using CCleaner, not only clean up the items shewn but also run the "Registry" function and fix all that is found, having first saved the file as prompted.
4. Run Windows Explorer "Search" again and any remaining folders and files should be able to be deleted.
5. Do another hard re-boot and then run every cleaning program you might have. I use EasyClean, followed by CCleaner and updated Malwarebytes.

It seems to work OK. On the rare occasions that files or folders cannot be deleted I bung them into a folder call "Corrupt" and forget about them.

snert
November 20, 2012 11:25 AM

If I can't find an uninstall option for something I want gone and Revo doesn't/won't work I use free File Shredder which gets rid of the offender, most of the times. All it does is shred the file/folder -it leaves the leftovers in the registry. Once in a while it gets stymied somehow. Then I reboot into Safe Mode and try again.

Kevin
November 23, 2012 5:56 AM

Unlocker is a very handy little tool that will allow deletion of almost any file, although sometimes a reboot is necessary. Used properly it is a life saver.

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