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6 Easy Ways to Uninstall Programs in Windows
Windows 10 and Windows 11 offer a few built-in ways to delete unwanted software, but several third-party programs can also rid your hard drive of unneeded applications.
By Lance Whitney
Updated February 1, 2022
(Illustration: René Ramos)
If you have applications on your computer that you no longer want, they can be easily removed to free up disk space and unclutter your Start menu. Windows 10 and Windows 11 include a built-in uninstall option available through the Start menu, Settings screen, and Control Panel.
If it’s a Windows 10 Universal app, you can quickly and cleanly remove it through the uninstall feature in the Start menu and in Settings, but not the Control Panel applet. If you try to remove a full desktop application using Windows’ built-in options, the process often leaves behind leftover folders, files, and Registry entries that can gum up your system.
This is why you may want to use a third-party uninstaller, which can fully wipe out entire applications and leave no traces behind. Let’s go over your options.
Uninstall From the Start Menu
win 10 uninstall
First, you can uninstall a program from the Windows 10 or 11 Start menu.
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In Windows 10, click the Start button and look for a program you wish to remove, either in the All Apps list on the left or in the tiled section on the right. Right-click the program. If you can remove it this way, you’ll see an Uninstall option in the pop-up menu. Click it, confirm you want to uninstall it, and it’s gone.
Win 11 uninstall
In Windows 11, click the Start button. Look for any pinned apps you want to remove. Click the All apps entry at the upper right of the menu to see all the programs installed on your PC. Right-click an app you want to jettison and click the Uninstall command.
Uninstall in App Settings
You can also go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features to more easily view all the programs on your computer. This screen shows you both Windows Universal and standard desktop applications, so you should find every program installed on your PC here. Scroll down the list to locate the program you wish to remove, click it directly in Windows 10 or click the three-dot icon in Windows 11, and then select Uninstall.
Uninstall Through Control Panel
If you prefer using Control Panel, that option is still available in both Windows 10 and Windows 11. Click the Search field on the Taskbar, type Control Panel, and select Control Panel from the results. Switch to icon view and click Programs and Features.
Note that this view does not show you Windows Universal apps, only standard desktop applications. Select the program you wish to remove, then either right-click it and select Uninstall or select Uninstall at the top of the list.
Applications often spread their folders and files throughout your system and may even populate your Registry with settings that can be difficult to track down. The uninstall features built into Windows don’t necessarily remove all these leftover items, so a third-party uninstaller is needed to completely remove an application.
The challenge in fully uninstalling a Windows desktop application lies in finding the right balance. Many Windows files and Registry settings are shared by more than one program. So an uninstall utility needs to remove all leftovers for the program you’re uninstalling without disrupting another program that may still rely on those items.
For this reason, many of the best uninstallers have specific backups and safeguards in place. If something goes wrong following an uninstallation, the app can be restored in order to fix any issues that pop up. Here are three third-party uninstallers that can get the job done.
Revo Uninstaller can cleanly and completely remove desktop applications, Windows apps, and even browser extensions. The free version offers basic features and is a good place to start. For $24.95, the Pro edition will remove browser extensions and delete remnants of already uninstalled programs. For $29.95, the Pro Portable version can run on multiple computers and from a USB drive.
The interface for Revo Installer shows you all the apps on your system so you can easily find the ones you want to remove. The program can even help install applications, which allows it to monitor the entire installation process and more completely remove the app in the future.
To try Revo in action, double-click the program you want to remove, or right-click it and select Uninstall. Revo first creates a restore point to which you can fall back should it prove too aggressive at removing associated files and Registry entries. Next, Revo calls on the program’s own uninstall routine to remove it.
Revo then scans the Registry for leftover settings to delete and asks if you want to remove them. For this, you can choose between three modes—Safe, Moderate, or Advanced—depending on how aggressive you want the program to be.