Remove programs correctly in Windows

The main message of this article is:

A program should always be deleted via the Windows Control Panel

(at least as a first attempt)

In this article, you can read about how to remove programs correctly: i.e. via the Windows Control Panel.

In addition, we’ll go through some of the alternatives to the Control Panel.


Deleting a program via Control Panel

For good reason, many people believe that a program is deleted by clicking on the program icon and pressing ‘delete’; however, this is far from a correct way to delete or remove a program.

The absolute easiest and safest way to delete programs in Windows is to remove them via the built-in Control Panel. However, in different versions of Windows, there are slight variations in how to find and use the Control Panel, which we have taken into account in this guide.

If you don’t know which version of Windows you have, you can find out here. Then select the guide below that matches your Windows version.


Windows 7 or Windows Vista

  1. Click the Start button in the bottom left corner of Windows
  2. Click the Control Panel field in the Start menu
  3. Click the Uninstall a program link under Programs
  4. Click the program you want to remove and then click the Remove button (in the example, the program ‘Dropbox’ is selected)
  5. Congratulations! You have now deleted the program correctly


Windows XP, Windows 95 or Windows 98

  1. Click the Start button and select Control Panel (as in the guide above)
  2. Click the Add or Remove Programs icon
  3. Select/mark the program you want to remove and click the Remove button (as in the guide above)
  4. When a dialog box opens: Follow the instructions until the uninstallation is complete
  5. Congratulations! You have now successfully removed the desired program


Alternatives to the control panel

Note: It is always recommended to start by uninstalling programs via the Control Panel before attempting to remove them by other means (i.e. using removal tools) – it’s a bit like trying to remove clothing stains with soap and water before using bleach!

Not all programs can be deleted via the control panel; malicious programs and viruses in particular tend to install themselves deep into the system, which is a feature the developers of these programs deliberately code into their products.

For this reason, there are numerous uninstall tools that can be used as an alternative to uninstalling via the control panel. However, some of these tools are useless or even harmful and therefore do not work as intended.

The rule of thumb is that you should not pay for uninstall tools. This is because there is typically a free tool developed by the company behind the program, open-source or by a kind soul.

In our articles that deal with uninstalling specific programs, viruses and the like, we always strive to find and evaluate the relevant uninstall tools.

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