Whether you want to get rid of a program you no longer use or simply want to clear some hard-drive space, removing a program on your computer requires uninstalling it. Fortunately, this is a simple process. Learn how to uninstall programs on your computer with our step-by-step guide.
How to uninstall programs on Windows 10
There are a few ways to uninstall programs. The first is by finding the program on your Start Menu. This may not apply if you don’t use the program frequently or if it isn’t pinned to your Start menu. Some malware programs, for example, may come as part of another program download. These are often not prominently displayed.
1. Uninstall a program from the Start Menu
For programs located on the Start Menu, you can remove them by taking these steps:
- Click on the Windows icon in the upper left-hand corner of your screen
- Scroll through the program icons on your Start Menu until you find the one you want to uninstall
- Right-click the program icon
- Select Uninstall
- Follow the steps to remove your program successfully
2. Uninstall a program from the Settings
The second way to remove a program is through your Settings page. Follow these steps to begin:
- Click on the Windows icon or Start button to bring up your Start Menu
- Select Settings, then choose Apps, and click on Apps & features
- Choose the app or program you want to get rid of and click on the Uninstall button
- Follow the steps to complete its removal
3. Uninstall a program from the Control Panel
Most programs can be removed using the Control Panel. This usually doesn’t work for apps downloaded through the Windows Store, but many popular programs can be uninstalled this way. It’s also a great way to see all the programs you currently have installed on your computer. You may not even realize everything that is stored on your hard drive.
- Type Control Panel in the taskbar on your desktop or ask Cortana to open the Control Panel
- Click on Programs, then open Programs and Features
- Find the program you want to uninstall and right-click on it
- Select the Uninstall or Uninstall/Change button, whichever appears
- Follow the steps to complete the uninstallation
Tips for deciding which programs to uninstall
You don’t have to wait until a program causes you problems before you decide to uninstall it. Many of our PCs come preloaded with tools you may never use. Additionally, some software bundles may include various free trials or other freeware titles that use up precious storage and offer little value.
It’s a good idea to regularly go through your programs using the aforementioned Control Panel method. If your priority is to free up space, sort by application or program size so that the largest files are on top. Scroll through those big programs and remove the largest unwanted programs first.
When did you last use it?
You may also want to uninstall by the last date of use or frequency of use. Sort by the last date used to see files that may have been sitting unused on your PC for years. You may find that you have never even opened some programs or tools.
Pro tip: The dates shown will sometimes represent the last time there was an automatic program update and not the date you actually used it last. Old, unwanted programs can often appear to be used recently, even though they haven’t been.
What if a program won’t uninstall?
Sometimes, your Microsoft uninstaller won’t be able to remove a program. This may happen if you click Uninstall and you see a pop-up error message or you’re asked you to search for a program. Using the installer that came with the program may be the best choice in this situation.
Using a third-party program uninstaller
Not all third-party programs have their own installation or uninstallation software. To find out, use these steps to locate any application removal tools created by the software company itself:
- Use Windows Explorer to find where the program is installed. You can also look for the program name under C:\Program Files (If your hard drive has a letter name other than C, substitute it for C in this path)
- Open the folder with the program name you want to remove. Look for removal files with the .exe file format. They may be named “uninstall,” “uninstallation,” or something similar
- Double-click the executable file of the uninstaller to open it. An uninstallation wizard or other pop-up utility should start
- Follow the steps to complete the removal of the program. It may take you to a website for feedback or want you to answer survey questions. You do not have to do this to complete the process
If you can’t find an uninstaller, or the executable file that came with the program acts oddly or opens new programs, you may have a virus or malware problem. Use your antivirus program to scan your computer. Try doing this in Safe Mode
if you experience computer instability.
Extra help for removing programs
When attempting to uninstall Windows 10 programs, you may have to restart your computer to finish the process. If you plan to remove more than one program, only do one at a time. You may have to restart your computer between each uninstallation.
Usually, the computer will start back up on its own. Sometimes, you may need to power up your PC to continue the process manually. When the computer is fully powered on, wait a few minutes to ensure that you aren’t prompted to do anything else to complete the uninstallation. Most programs will be removed by the time your normal PC programs are fully loaded.
Reinstalling removed programs
Removing programs is easy in most cases, and it can free up computer space for more programs you actually use. Windows has made it easy to uninstall most common programs.
If you change your mind and decide that you want to reinstall a program later, you should have no issues as long as you have kept the software licensing key or have a way of logging in and proving you own it. Free programs are easy to download again from the original publisher.