How to Find and Remove Unwanted Programs from Your Computer

February 10, 2009

in applications,computer performance,Windows

by Tina Gasperson

Computer hard drive capacity just keeps going up and up as our storage needs increase, so we don’t feel the need to be as choosy as we used to about installing programs. After all, there’s plenty of room. Problems can crop up, however, when an application uses too many resources and slows the computer down – and as many of us discover, there really is a limit to how many things we can have on the hard drive before running out of space. If buying a new hard drive is not an option, it may be time to pare down the number of applications installed on your computer. Here’s how.

Simply locating the installation on the hard drive and deleting it can leave stray files and doesn’t undo the changes made to your registry at the time of installation. In other words, your computer still “thinks” the program is installed. The control panel is the best way to access your installed programs and if necessary, to uninstall them correctly. Click the “start” button in the lower left corner of your desktop, and then click on Control Panel. Find “Add or Remove Programs” and click it. Give Windows a moment or two to populate the list of installed applications. If you have a large number of applications it may take as long as 60-120 seconds to pull this list up.

Add and remove programs

Add and remove programs

Once the list is on your screen, take a few minutes to scroll through it. You can sort the list alphabetically, by size, frequency of use, or date of last use. You may be surprised at some of the programs you have installed. In fact, you may not have been the one to install some of them. Some applications come as “tagalongs” to other programs; sometimes we inadvertently give permission for other applications to be installed when we add things like toolbars to our browsers; sometimes other people who use the computer install things without our knowledge. Don’t worry though; it is easy to uninstall these unwanted software programs. When you see an application you don’t want, just click on it and then click the button marked “Remove.” Windows will automatically remove the application for you and when it is done, it will disappear from the list. Keep clicking and removing until all unwanted applications are gone, then enjoy the extra hard drive space you’ve gained.

Tina Gasperson (, affectionately known as Computer Lady by her family, has been writing about IT, home computing, and the Internet for more than a decade.


Susan 03.16.09 at 9:40 pm

I read the article about how to remove programs, but my problem is that they are never named what I think they are .. I am concerned that I may delete a program that I want because no matter what program I look at the computer tells me that it is rarely or never used .. even the word processor!

IMSA12 03.17.09 at 11:43 am

I agree with Susan’s comment. I have several programs installed that I know are utilized regularly, but the A/R Programs window will show otherwise. There is also the occasional application (re. Norton/Symantec) that can not be, or is incompletely uninstalled using this function, and as for keeping the registry “clean”, it just doesn’t do it!

Nancy 03.25.09 at 6:15 pm

This was completely useless to me. I already did this step and the program is still on my computer and keeps popping up no matter what I do.I need a real solution, most beginners know how to do this step.,

admin 03.25.09 at 6:16 pm


It sounds like you have a program that doesn’t want to be removed. Try AdAware or SpyBot Search And Destroy (both free) to remove it.

Fitz 04.10.09 at 3:31 am

Add/remove programs does not delete ITunes or QuickTime. The ruddy things simply won’t die!

Gary Powell 04.22.09 at 10:16 pm

I use a freeware program ” Revo Uninstall” It works like a charm. Has 4 or 5 levels of removals, uses the programs uninstall first, then it scans for any left over files to remove. The best and fastest one I have ever used.

Ronald Malloy 12.22.13 at 9:59 am

Told to locate a program called “GreyGray” on my List of Programs; found it and removed it… however, I find that in using Google… this AdWare still appears at the bottom of a page… any advice… I use AdBlock on Google… it seems to work… but not on ‘GreyGray’.

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