by Barry Dysert
(last updated October 5, 2015)
To uninstall a program means to remove all traces of it (including its data) from your system. A well-behaved installation will take care of these details when you uninstall the program, but unfortunately many installations are not so well behaved. Ideally, to uninstall a program you should just need to go to the Control Panel and click the Uninstall a Program link in the Programs group. After clicking this link, the Control Panel shows installed programs on your system. (See Figure 1.)
Figure 1. Uninstalling a program through the Control Panel.
Scroll to the program you wish to uninstall and select it by clicking it once. An Uninstall/Change button should appear near the top of the dialog box, just to the right of the Organize button. To uninstall the selected program, just click the Uninstall/Change button and follow any on-screen directions. (In many cases the program is immediately uninstalled without the need for any further action on your part.)
Some programs that get installed may not appear when you've gone through the Control Panel. In these cases, it's likely that the program still has an uninstall facility of its own. For example, I have a program called "DOSBox" on my computer. It does not show up via the Control Panel, so if I display the folder in which the program is located, it does have an uninstall program there. All I need to do is start that program and it will uninstall DOSBox. (Note that not every uninstall application is named "uninstall.exe." There are variations, so you should look for similar names, e.g., "uninst.exe", uninst_app.exe", etc.)
Unfortunately, there are programs that don't even come with their own uninstaller. For these programs you have to manually track down where they reside on disk, where their data is kept, and manually delete the files in the associated folders. These programs may have updated the Registry as well, but without knowing exactly how the program may use the Registry, it's best to leave it alone.
This tip (12559) applies to Windows 7 and 8.
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