A question I often get from Windows users is how to completely uninstall all traces of a program or app. Here’s what you need to know.
When you uninstall a program from Windows via Add or Remove Programs or with the program’s uninstaller, it leaves many remnants behind. Things left behind are folders, temp files, icons, registry entries, and more. If you want to uninstall all traces of a program completely, follow this guide to remove everything.
Note: Keep in mind this method isn’t for everyone, especially the later part where I manually clean entries from the Registry.
For this example, I’m uninstalling the Maxthon web browser – not because it isn’t a good browser but because I need to sacrifice an application to the uninstall gods for this article.
The “go-to” app I use to uninstall software on Windows is Revo Uninstaller Pro. Revo also offers a free version that includes fewer options but still does a good job of getting rid of extra entries of unwanted software.
Launch Revo Uninstaller, and you’ll see a list of the programs you have installed on your system. It also lists programs that aren’t listed in Add/Remove programs in Windows. Right-click the program you want to remove and click Uninstall.
Then Revo will ask if you’re sure that you want to uninstall the program. By default, the options to create a System Restore Point and Full Registry Backup before the uninstall. It’s good to allow it to do it automatically every time you uninstall a program. This is important because if something goes wrong with the uninstall, you can easily restore your system and Registry. Click the Continue button.
After safely backing up your system and Registry, the native uninstaller for the program you’re uninstalling will kick off. Simply follow the uninstall wizard.
After you complete the uninstall wizard, go back to Revo and click the Continue button.
Revo scans your system for leftover files and registry settings. You’ll be surprised how many entries native app installers leave behind.
Go through the list and check only the entries it found that are marked as blue. The other folders are system folders your system needs. This is why it’s so nice that Revo creates a restore point and Registry backup. After you select all the leftovers, click Delete.
A verification message will come up asking if you’re sure. Click Yes.
If there are other leftover files or folders, you’ll click Next and delete those, too.
Next, I use another one of my favorite utilities — Everything by Voidtools. Type in the name of the program you just deleted and remove all entries it finds. Another tip is to search for the name of the software company that made the app.
Manually Clean Registry
After that, the last thing I do to make sure all traces of the program are removed is to search the Registry and delete all entries of the program.
Hit the Windows key and type: regedit and
The Registry Editor comes up. Hit F3 on your keyboard to bring up the Search box. Type in the name of the program and click Find Next.
When an entry is found, go ahead and hit Delete. Then hit F3 to Find the next one and continue.
Continue deleting entries until the full Registry has been searched. I prefer to clean the Registry myself versus using a Registry cleaner program. A Registry cleaner utility can often delete important entries you need for a program to work.
Be careful while in the Registry and deleting entries, though. I don’t recommend this for a beginner at all. But if you’re a power user and know Windows really well, it’s an effective method.