Seven Ways to Remove Desktop Programs and Modern Apps in Windows

1. Uninstall Desktop Applications from the Control Panel

This is the method known by most people. It works great for all desktop applications but it cannot be used for modern Windows 8.1 apps that are distributed through the Windows Store.

First go to “Control Panel -> Programs -> Programs and Features”.

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Then, select the application you want to remove, click or tap Uninstall and follow the wizard.

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2. Uninstall Programs Using their Uninstall Shortcuts

Most desktop applications, when installed, create at least an Uninstall shortcut. This is generally found in the application’s folder in the Start Menu (in Windows Vista, Windows 7, etc) or in the Apps view, that’s accessible from theStart screen (in Windows 8.1).

remove, uninstall, programs, apps, Windows Store, Windows 7, Windows 8.1Uninstall shortcuts are sometimes also placed on the Desktop. Double-click on them to start the uninstall procedure.

3. Uninstall Programs Using their Uninstall.exe

Many programs (especially those which create Uninstall shortcuts) have an executable file named uninstall.exe or something along these lines. This file is always found in the installation folder of that application.

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Run it and follow the steps required to uninstall the program.

4. Uninstall Programs Using Their Setup MSI File

Some programs (like the 64-bit version of 7-Zip) do not use a setup.exe file for their installation. Instead their setup file has the extension “.msi”. This format is used by the Windows Installer, a special installation format created by Microsoft for its Windows operating systems.

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The desktop applications that use an “.msi” installer are very easy to uninstall. You right click on their setup file and click Uninstall.

The removal can also be triggered from the command line. Open the Command Prompt as administrator and type“msiexec /x “ followed by the name of the “.msi” file used by the program you want to remove.

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You can also add other command line parameters to control the way the uninstall is done. For more information, check this article from Microsoft: Msiexec (command-line options).

5. Uninstall Windows 8.1 Apps and Desktop Programs from the Start Screen

All the methods covered so far apply only to traditional desktop applications. But what about Windows 8.1 apps? How do you remove those?

One way is to right click or press and hold on their tile, to bring up the contextual menu on the bottom. Then, pressUninstall. The app is then removed in a few seconds without other prompts and confirmations. If an app no longer has a tile on the Start screen, simply search for it, right click or press and hold on the appropriate search result and then press Uninstall.

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On classic PCs without a touchscreen, Windows 8.1 displays a traditional right-click menu when you right click the tile of a modern app. As expected, this menu includes the Uninstall option.

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You can do the same with desktop applications. However, you are taken to the Programs and Features window inControl Panel, from which you can start the uninstall.

6. Remove Windows Store Apps from PC Settings

In Windows 8.1, you can also use PC Settings to remove modern apps from the Windows Store. Open PC Settings and go to Search and apps and then to App sizes.

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On the right, you will see a list with all the apps that are installed on your device. Select the one you want to remove and the Uninstall button is displayed.

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Click or tap Uninstall and then again on Uninstall to confirm that you want to remove the app.

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7. Use a Specialized Software Uninstaller

There are programs that can be used to cleanup other programs. Some even remove leftovers from the uninstall process, both files and registry entries.

How to troubleshoot Windows Installer errors

When you install, uninstall, or update a program on a Windows-based computer, you may receive one of the following error messages.

Error message 1
The Windows Installer Service could not be accessed.
Error message 2
Windows Installer Service couldn’t be started.
Error message 3
Could not start the Windows Installer service on Local Computer. Error 5: Access is denied.
Solution
To determine whether you’re using an account that has administrator rights
To determine whether you’re using an account that has administrator rights, use one of the following methods, as appropriate for the operating system that you’re running.

Windows 7 and Windows Vista
  1. Open the Date and Time dialog box.
    1. Click Start.
    2. Type the following command in the Start Search or Search programs and files box, and then press Enter:
      timedate.cpl

      The Date and Time dialog box appears.
      The screen shot for this step

  2. Click Change date and time. When the User Account Control dialog box appears, click Continue.
    The screen shot for this step
  3. Do one of the following, depending on what happens when you click Continue:
    • If your computer does not prompt you for a password, you are already logged on with an administrator account. Click Cancel two times to close the Date and Time dialog box. You are ready to fix the Windows Installer issues.
    • If your computer prompts you for a password, you are not logged on with an administrator account.
Windows XP and Windows Server 2003
  1. Open the Date and Time dialog box.
    1. Click Start, and then click Run.
    2. Type the following command in the Run dialog box, and then press OK:
      timedate.cpl
      The screen shot for this step
  2. Do one of the following, depending on the result:
    • If the Date and Time Properties dialog box appears, you are already logged on as an administrator. ClickCancel to close the dialog box.
      The screen shot for this step
    • If you receive the following message, you are not logged on as an administrator:
      The screen shot showing the message appears if you are not logged on as an administrator

After you’ve verified that you’re logged on to your computer as an administrator, you can start troubleshooting Windows Installer issues.

Identify Windows Installer issues

If the Windows Installer engine is corrupted, disabled, or installed incorrectly, this may cause program installation issues.

Use the following methods to identify any Windows Installer issues that may be causing problems when you install, uninstall, or update programs.

Method 1: Determine whether the Windows Installer engine is working
  1. Click StartStart button, type cmd in the Search box or click Run then type cmd in the dialog (Windows XP or Windows Server 2003), and then press Enter to open a Command Prompt window.
  2. At the command prompt, type MSIExec, and then press Enter.
  3. If the MSI engine is working, you should not receive any error messages. If you receive an error message, enter the error message text into a search engine such as Bing or Google to locate troubleshooting information about the issue.
  4. Try to install or uninstall again.
Method 2: Make sure that the Windows Installer service is not set to Disabled
  1. Click StartStart button, type services.msc in the Search box or click Run then type services.msc in the dialog (Windows XP or Windows Server 2003), and then press Enter to open Services.
  2. Right-click Windows Installer, and then click Properties.
  3. If the Startup type box is set to Disabled, change it to Manual.
  4. Click OK to close the Properties window.
  5. Right-click the Windows Installer service, and then click Start. The service should start without errors.
  6. Try to install or to uninstall again.
Method 3: Check your version of Windows Installer, and upgrade to the latest version if necessary

Important This method applies to Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, and Windows Server 2008 only.

  1. Click StartStart button, type cmd in the Search box or click Run then type services.msc in the dialog (Windows XP or Windows Server 2003), and then press Enter to open a Command Prompt window.
  2. At the command prompt, type MSIExec, and then press Enter. If the MSI engine is working, you should not receive any error messages, and a separate dialog box should open. This shows the MSI version.
  3. If the installer is not version 4.5, download and install Windows Installer 4.5.
  4. Try to install or to uninstall again.
Method 4: Reregister the installer engine

Important This method applies to Windows XP and to Windows Server 2000 only.

  1. Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then click Command Prompt.
  2. At the command prompt, type the following, and then press Enter after each line:
    MSIExec /unregister

    MSIExec /regserver

  3. Try to install or to uninstall again.

Fix that installation or update process was not completed successfully

The installation or update method doesn’t run to completion

There are several methods that can be used to install, to uninstall, or to update a program. Additionally, the method or methods that are used may not have started or completed successfully. In this situation, try some other method to install, or to update the program.

The following are common methods that are used to install software:

  • Insert the CD or DVD media, and then let the installation auto-start.
  • Browse to the CD, DVD, removable media, or other location where the programs installation files are stored, and then double-click the Setup program. The setup file is typically one of the following:
    • Autorun or Autorun.exe
    • Setup or Setup.exe
    • Install or Install.exe
  • Click Run when you download the program from a website.

The installation media is unreadable

Installation media such as CD and DVD media may be dirty or scratched and therefore be unreadable by the CD or DVD reader. To resolve this issue, follow these methods:

Method 1: Clean the CD or DVD

To do this, use a CD or DVD disc-cleaning kit. Or, use a soft, lint-free cotton cloth to gently wipe the silver side of the disc. Do not use paper cloth, as this can scratch the plastic or leave streaks. When you clean the disc, wipe from the center of the disc outward. Do not use a circular motion. If the problem continues to occur, clean the disc by using a damp cloth or a commercial CD or DVD disc-cleaning solution. Dry the disc thoroughly before you insert it into the drive.

Method 2: Copy the installation files to your computer or to other removable media

When you do this, note the location, and then run the installer from that location. The installation file is typically named Autorun.exe or Setup.exe, but this may vary. If you’re not sure, check the Readme file in the folder for instructions about how to run the installation process. If an executable file (.exe) is available, we do not recommend that you run .msi files directly without specific instructions from the vendor.

Note If multiple CDs or DVDs are required, we recommend that you copy all the disks to the same folder, in reverse order (higher disk numbers first). Be prepared to approve the overwriting of existing files if you are prompted, and then install from that location.

Method 3: Obtain a fresh version of the installation package

If you tried to install from a CD or DVD, do the following:

  • Check the software manufacturer’s website for a more recent version of the software package. Download and install the new version.
  • If you already have the latest version, download the program from the manufacturer’s website, and then run the installation.

Downloaded or copied installation files are corrupted

Method 1: Copy the installation files to your computer

Copy the installation files to a local hard disk on your computer or to other removable media. Note the location, and then run the installation from that location. The installation file is typically named Autorun.exe or Setup.exe, but this may vary. If you’re not sure, check the Readme file in the folder for instructions about how to run the installation. If an executable file (.exe) is available, we do not recommend that you run .msi files directly without specific instructions from the vendor.

  • If you are installing a program from the Internet, redownload the file (select Save instead of Run in the download dialog box), save the file to a folder on a local hard disk on your computer or to other removable media. Then, run the installation from that location.
  • If your installation files are on a network (for example, a commercial or corporate environment), copy all the files to a folder on a local hard disk on your computer, and then run the installation from that location.
Method 2: Obtain a fresh version of the installation package

If some time has elapsed between when you downloaded the package and when you tried to install it, do the following:

  • Check the software manufacturer’s website for a more recent version of the software package. Download and install the new version.
  • If you already have the latest version, download the program again, and then run the installation.

Programs that are currently running on your computer are interfering with the installation process

Disable programs that might be interfering with the installation process. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Click StartStart button, type msconfig in the Search box, and then click msconfig.exe.

    User Account Control permission If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password, or provide confirmation.

  2. On the General tab, click Selective startup, and then clear the Load startup items check box.
  3. Click Services, click Hide all Microsoft services, and then click Disable all.
  4. Click OK, and then click Restart.
  5. Try running your software program installation.
  6. When you are finished troubleshooting the problem, restart the computer in Normal Startup mode. To do this, follow these steps:
    1. Click StartStart button, type msconfig in the Search box, and then click msconfig.exe.

      User Account Control permission If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password, or provide confirmation.

    2. On the General tab, click Normal startup, click OK, and then click Restart.

Fix that a program wasn’t uninstalled successfully

There are typically several ways to remove any program. In this situation, try some other method to remove the program.

The following are common methods that are used to install software:

Method 1: Use the uninstall option (if available)
  1. Click StartStart button, and then click All Programs.
  2. Select the folder for the program that you are trying to uninstall, and then open the folder.
  3. If there is an uninstall option, try using it.
Method 2: Use Control Panel options
  1. Click StartStart button, click Control Panel, click Add and Remove Programs or Programs and Features, and then click Uninstall a program.
  2. Select the program, and then click Uninstall. Follow the instructions.

How to Manually Remove Programs from the Add/Remove Programs List

Programs that are compatible with Windows may have an uninstallation program or feature. The Add/Remove programs tool lists all of the Windows-compatible programs that have an uninstall program or feature. You may need to manually remove the program from the Add/Remove Programs list if you uninstall a program and the registry key that is used to display the program name is not removed correctly:

  1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit in the Open box, and then press ENTER.
  2. Locate and click the following registry key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall
  3. After you click the Uninstall registry key, click Export Registry File on the Registry menu.
  4. In the Export Registry File dialog box, click Desktop in the Save in box, type uninstall in the File name box, and then click Save.
  5. Each key under Uninstall represents a program that appears in Add/Remove Programs. To determine which program that each key represents, click the key, and then view the following values:
    DisplayName – the value data for the DisplayName key is the name that is listed in Add/Remove Programs

    -and-

    UninstallString – the value data for the UninstallString key is the program that is used to uninstall the program

  6. After you identify the registry key that represents the program that is still in Add/Remove Programs, right-click the key, and then click Delete.
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  8. After you delete the key, click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  9. In Control Panel, double-click Add/Remove Programs.
  10. In Add/Remove Programs, verify that the program for which you deleted the registry key is not listed.
  11. If the program list is not correct in Add/Remove Programs, you can double-click the Uninstall.reg file on your desktop to restore the original list of programs in the registry.
  12. If the program list is correct in Add/Remove Programs, you can right-click the Uninstall.reg file on your desktop, and then click Delete.