Solve The Problem Of Incomplete Uninstalls

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

Q. When I uninstall an application, using Windows Add/Remove Programs menu, I sometimes discover that not all the application’s files are removed—a few laggards remain on my computer and I can’t get rid of them no matter what I do. Any suggestions for erasing them?

A. That can be an irritating problem, especially when the left-behind drivers try to launch missing applications. Microsoft wrote a utility, RegClean, that does the job for operating systems before XP; unfortunately, Microsoft no longer supports it. If you have an older operating system just type RegClean into a search engine and you’ll find many URLs from which to download it for free.

If you are running XP, the solution is a little more complicated. Begin with the conventional application-removal method, using Windows’ own Add or Remove Programs menu. To access that, click on Start , Settings , Control Panel and then on Add or Remove Programs . Scroll down the list of programs until you find your target. Click on it and the following screen will appear:

Click on Remove , and theoretically at least, all the application’s files will be cleared off your hard drive. If you later discover that some files remain, you will have to take more drastic action—that is, go into the Registry and pluck them out.

I can imagine that you’re shaking your head and saying, “No way am I going there.” While it’s true that going into the Registry , which controls the computer’s operating system, is a little scary for the novice, if you proceed carefully and follow instructions to the letter it can be very useful. Here are the steps:

Click on Start , Run and in the space after Open: type regedit .

Scroll down to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and click on the plus (+) sign to its left.

That will unfold many more items. Scroll down to Software and click on the plus sign to its left. That, in turn, will unfold yet more items. Scroll down to Microsoft . Again click on the plus sign to its left, and following the same procedure, click on Windows and then CurrentVersion and finally on Uninstall , where every program on your computer is listed.

Many of the listings are in code; don’t even think about touching them. Go to your target application and right-click on it. That evokes a small menu which includes the option to Delete . Right-click on it and then close the Registry Editor by clicking on the big X in the upper right-hand corner.

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