Clean out the debris left by deleted apps

You may think you have uninstalled a program -- but wait -- what's that? Lots of bits and pieces left over cluttering up your system. What to do? Third-party uninstall applications are available, but my experience with them has been wanting. I recommend using the manual method instead. Here's how . . .

First, if an application doesn't come with an uninstall option (look in the Start menu, in Control Panel's Add/Remove Programs applet, or in the program's own folder), then delete the app's folder. It may be called C:\Program Files\program name, C:\Program Files\vendor name\program name, or simply c:\program name. Use Windows Explorer to find the folder, then select it and press . Click Yes every time Windows asks you if you really want to delete it.

Next you'll want to remove the program's Shortcuts. Right-click Start and select Explore. In Explorer, remove any Shortcuts or folders within the Start Menu folder that are named for that program. For instance, if you launch "BadCode" by selecting Start-Programs-BadCode, you'll want to go to the C:\Windows\Start Menu\Programs folder and delete BadCode. But if you launch "SystemCrasher" by selecting Start-Programs-System Crasher-SystemCrasher, you'll want to delete the C:\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\System Crasher folder.

Now it's time to clean out the System folder. Doing this isn't an exact science - it requires guesswork and caution. While in Explorer, go to C:\Windows\System. Select View-Options (or View-Folder Options). On the View tab, select Show all files, then click OK.

Right-click an empty space in the folder and choose New-Folder. Name the new folder Probably Garbage. While you're still in the System folder, select View-Arrange Icons-by Name. Look for file names similar to the program's name, then drag each one to Probably Garbage. When you are done, move Probably Garbage to another place on your hard drive or better yet, to another drive. Wait three months to make sure you don't need any of these files before you delete them for good.

Finally, you should clean up the Registry. Editing the Registry is always dangerous, so make sure you have a good backup first.

When you're ready to clean, select Start-Run, type regedit, and press to enter the Registry Editor. Press , type the name of the unwanted program, and press .

Whatever result the search returns, click it, press , then select Yes. Watch out for entries on both panes of the Registry - deleting an entry from the right pane alone may not be enough. Press to continue the search, deleting each reference you find. When you're done, close the Registry Editor and reboot.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lincoln Spector

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?