Uninstall a program in Windows (and Mac OSX)

What’s the right way to uninstall a program in Windows?

There are many different reasons for uninstalling a program from your computer. Here are some of the more common ones:

  • You’ve just installed a new program and now you want to get rid of it because it doesn’t do what you want, or it misbehaves, or it has a negative impact somewhere else on your system.
  • You’ve just installed a new program (that you want), and have now discovered that one or more other programs (that you don’t want) were installed at the same time because you didn’t see the option to stop this from happening.
  • Another situation that might crop up is that you want to install a new version of a program and it tells you to uninstall the old version first. This doesn’t happen very often as the new version usually knows how to remove the old one automatically. Nevertheless, it can happen that you have to manually remove the old one first.
  • You may also want to uninstall a program just because it is not needed any more.

Control Panel Icons by Category
Control Panel Icons by Category

Whatever the reason for wanting rid, uninstalling an un-needed program is good “housekeeping” because it does free up some space and help your system to run marginally faster.

So, how do you go about uninstalling a program in Windows?

One thing is for certain: deleting the shortcut to a program that you might have on your desktop will definitely NOT uninstall the program. This won’t do any harm however. It will just delete the shortcut.

The very thing that you definitely must NOT do is to find the folder in which the program resides and just delete the folder and its files. That is just asking for trouble as Windows doesn’t know that the program is no longer there, but might go looking for something that is now missing. This will cause error messages and possible system freezes. If you’ve done this in the past and are suffering the consequences, then I suggest reinstalling the program and then uninstalling it again – the proper way. The way that you uninstall a program in Windows hasn’t changed much over the years. Here are the instructions for Windows 10 and Windows 7:

Control Panel Items by Icon
Control Panel Items by Icon

Windows 10

  • Right-click on the “Start” button
  • Left-click on “Control Panel”
  • If you are viewing the options “by category” (see top right option next to “View by:”), left-click on “Uninstall a program” under the “Programs” heading. Otherwise left click on “Programs and Features”
  • Single-click on the program you wish to uninstall (to highlight it)
  • Left-click on the “Uninstall” or “Uninstall/change” button (depending on which is displayed above the list of programs)
  • Follow the on-screen instructions

Windows 7

  • Left-click on the “Start” button
  • Left-click on “Control Panel” as for Windows 10 above and then follow the Windows 10 instructions

HousekeepingThis is one of those occasions where Mac owners can feel a bit smug as the procedure for removing an unwanted program on a Mac is much simpler:

  • Open a “Finder” window
  • Click on “Applications”
  • Look through the list to find the program (application) to be uninstalled
  • Click on the program to select it
  • Move the program to “Trash”