How Do I Remove Add/Remove Programs Entries?

Generally, you would use the Control Panel’s Add/Remove Programs tool or Vista’s Default Programs | Programs and Features page to uninstall programs from your computer. Now and again some of these uninstalls will leave program names behind which, when clicked on, either produce errors or no action. You can remove these invalid entries using the method described here.

Note: To use the method described here you will be editing the registry. Editing the registry is tricky in that if you do it wrong you can cause problems with your computer up to and including rendering it inoperable. So, start by first making a restore point using the Windows System Restore utility. Close all open programs and then access the utility through the Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore menu sequence. Pick the Create a restore point radio button and then follow the instructions in the wizard. You will be making other backups as we go along as well.

Note: The procedure described here only removes the references to an invalid entry in the Add/Remove Programs tool; it does not remove or uninstall a program. If a prior uninstall left residual materials on your hard disk in program directories or user data directories and/or other registry entries you will have to clean these up manually. Because each program is different in how it installs, instructions for doing that are beyond the scope of this document.

OK, caveats given, let’s start:

  • Start the Registry Editor (Start | Run and then type “regedit” [no quotes] into the dialog box — in Vista just type “regedit” [no quotes] into the Start menu search box)
  • Navigate to this key value in the left pane:
  • Right click on the Uninstall entry. Select the “Export” option from the menu. Give the exported .REG file a name you can remember and store it in a location you can remember. Doing this makes a backup you can recover from if you make an editing error in the steps below.
  • Locate the specific key you wish to delete. It will likely have the name of the program but, in case not, scroll down each entry and look at the value for DisplayName. The key you want is the key that contains the same display name as you are trying to remove from the Add/Remove Programs menu.
  • If you want to be extra safe, right click on this key and again select Export and save the .REG file.
  • Once you have located and backed up the key containing the DisplayName you wish to delete from the Add/Remove Programs menu, delete that key from the registry. Delete only that key; do not delete the entire Uninstall entry or any other entries.
  • Close the Registry Editor (changes made to the registry via the Registry Editor take immediate effect so you don’t have to save anything before closing the editor).
  • Open the Add/Remove Programs utility from the Control Panel (in Vista use Vista’s Default Programs | Programs and Features page) and verify that the invalid entry is gone and that the other entries are still there.

That should do the job. If you made an error along the way and need to recover either the specific key you deleted or the entire Uninstall key then double click on either the key’s .REG file or the Uninstall key’s .REG file. When you do this you will cause the Registry Editor to restore the values in that key to what they were before you attempted your edit. Should the worst happen and you change something in the registry that you should not have then you should be able to use the System Restore Utility to recover the system to the restore point you created and then start over again.

Comments from Original Article:

Said this on 2010-02-08 At 04:32 pm
hi sorry to bug you but after going back through my add/remove program the file i am trying to remove is still showing up it is called chief architect it takes up 3.5g and i have never used it there is no option to remove it only a change option i did the stips you said and removed the key and sub keys but it still remains
any advice

thanks Ross
Said this on 2010-02-08 At 04:47 pm
In reply to #2
What’s described here is a way to just remove bad entries in the add/remove menu and not a way to actually remove the programs themselves. Check for an uninstall program in the folder where the program itself is located. If found, run that to remove the program itself. If not, look in the All Programs menu. Sometimes companies will insert a link to an uninstall there instead of using the Windows Add/Remove menu. If nothing else works and you are certain you have no need for the software simply remove the folder where the program resides (you’ll likely have to do this as an administrator). There will likely be things associated with the program left on the system (registry entries, maybe a program data file for options, etc.) but these should not bother you.

Said this on 2010-04-22 At 11:12 am
when ever i have installed any software the should not come in add reomve progrmas what i should do pl reply me
Said this on 2010-04-22 At 11:34 am
In reply to #4
Look at the Start Menu item for the program. If there is no uninstall option in Add/Remove then there usually is an Uninstall program in the Start Menu folder for the program. Pick that. If there is none then contact the maker of the program for help.

Michael ware
Said this on 2011-04-13 At 05:34 am
hey what’s up my name is Michael i am having problems removing the crawler toolbar software from my add/remove programs every time i click on change/remove it pops up but then closes before i am able to click on next i have tried removing this crawler toolbar several times already i even went to they told me how to do it but , its still doing the same thing the window pops up for me to uninstall it but then it closes quickly , i even down loaded a software to remove unwanted tool bars but i don’t think it worked can you please help me remove this crawler toolbar i would really appreciate it thanks

[Sorry, never used it. But the instructions on their site seem straightforward. Make them help you. –DaBoss]

Said this on 2011-04-26 At 06:22 pm
Trying to follow these steps but none of the stuff I want to remove is appearing on the list under Uninstall.

[These steps are for entries in the list that have no program associated with them. If you want to uninstall a program not on the list check the All Programs menu off the Start Menu to see if there is an uninstall link under that program’s entry. In other cases, programs sometimes have an uninstall option in the program itself. Finally, go to the Program Files folder were the program is located and look for an Uninstall executable to run. –DaBoss]