How to Remove a Program That Won't Remove in Add/Remove Programs

By Stuart Robertson

In a perfect world, every program on your computer would be listed in the "Add/Remove Programs" utility in the Control Panel, and they would all remove without any problems. But sometimes files get corrupted over time, or a program is changed in some way so that it can no longer be fully removed from "Add/Remove Programs," and sometimes programs just don't show up there. But there are a few simple steps you can take to remove just about any program, whether it is listed in the "Add/Remove Program" utility or not.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer

Remove Unwanted Programs

Step 1

Try several times to remove a program with the "Add/Remove Program" utility before trying anything else. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the program just needs a little convincing to remove itself. Also be aware that for some larger programs -- and even some smaller ones -- removal can take several minutes. If nothing happens, don't mistake this for failure. Let the process go until you get a message saying the removal has failed.

Step 2

Exit the "Add/Remove Program" utility and go to "My Computer," sometimes called just "Computer." This can be accessed from the Start Menu. Access the C Drive, then "Program Files." You may see one labeled "Program Files" and another named "Program Files (x86)." This just means you will have to repeat step three twice in both locations to find what you're looking for.

Step 3

Look for the program in the "Program Files" folder and the "Program Files (x86)" folder if you have one. Folder names are often the manufacturer name and not the program name, which can make finding them difficult, so try searching for the program if you can't find it. For Windows XP, use the search button, and on Windows Vista and Windows 7, use the search bar in the upper-right corner.

Step 4

Locate the program in your "Program Files" folder and navigate there. In the main folder, you may find a file called "uninstall.exe" or something similar to "unins000.exe." Some larger programs will have a more complex file structure and you may have to go hunting for these files. You can do a search like the one described in the previous step to speed up the process. Once you've found this file, double click it and it will take you through the uninstall process. If this also fails to uninstall the program or you cant find such a file, move on to the next step.

Step 5

Navigate back out of the program's folder so that you find yourself in the main "Program Files" or "Program Files (x86)" folder. At this point, the best that you can do is to remove the program's files. This may leave files in other places or references to the program in the registry, but it will at least remove the bulk of the program's files. Locate the folder that you found the program in, double check to make sure it's the right one, then delete it.