How to Uninstall Programs in Windows


woman at laptop woman at laptop
Uninstalling programs from Microsoft is easy but the process depends on which version of Windows you have. Tom Werner/Getty Images

Removing an application from a Windows computer takes more than dragging and dropping its icon to the Recycle Bin. Each program requires a number of files installed in different parts of the operating system to support it. These support files and their locations vary on the type and complexity of the software but removing them is important to completely delete the software from your computer.

Thankfully, for most programs, it's easy to remove applications and the files that support them with one simple operation.

  • In Windows 10, you can uninstall programs by going to the Start Menu, choosing the application in the All Apps list, and right-clicking on the application. From the menu that pops up, choose "Uninstall."
  • If you're using a Windows 8 system, open the Control Panel by right-clicking on the bottom-left corner of the screen, then choose "Uninstall a Program" from the list of applications.(It's sublisted under "Programs.") From the list, click on the program you wish to uninstall
  • In Windows 7, open the Start menu and choose Control Panel from the right pane. Go to Programs and Features. Then choose "Uninstall a program." From the list, click on the program you wish to uninstall.
  • For those remaining Windows XP users, uninstall apps by clicking the Start button, then go to Add or Remove Programs from the Control Panel. This will also work with Windows Vista.

There are some programs for which this method may not work. For these, you can uninstall them from the Settings menu, much as in earlier versions of Windows using the Control Panel. After right-clicking on the Start Menu, choose Settings. On the settings screen, choose Apps. On the list of applications, you can right-click to access an Uninstall button.

You may find that where are some applications that don't give you an option to uninstall them at all. There are a couple of reasons why this might be. If the registry key name is longer than 60 characters long, this could be the reason. If this is the case, you can solve the problem by editing the registry name. Be careful — Microsoft cautions that editing the registry can cause serious problems if done incorrectly and recommends backing up the registry first.

There are some applications Microsoft wants you to keep installed (like Xbox, Mail, Calendar, Calculator and Store.) In Windows 10, some of those can be deleted using PowerShell. Although this method doesn't require you to edit your registry, you should still be careful when you delete these applications.