To uninstall a program, or whole piece of software, first open the Control Panel window and then click on the PROGRAMS AND FEATURES link (Fig 1.0) to open the Programs And Features window (Fig 1.1).
Fig 1.0 - Click on the PROGRAMS AND FEATURES link to continue
When the Programs And Features window opens it will present you with a list of Installed Programs and Software Packages, which could of been installed by Windows 10 or by you. Meaning, some of the programs/software could be Windows 10 specific programs/software and some could be programs/software you have downloaded/installed from the Internet or installed from a CD for example. Therefore, you must exercise caution before uninstalling a program (or piece of software) as you might not know what that program (or piece of software) is, what it does, who installed it or what installed it.
Fig 1.1 - Select a program to uninstall and then click on the UNINSTALL button to continue
A classic scenario is when a Game is installed: You play it and then forget about it. Before you know it many games have been installed and forgotten about. And the same applies to programs and software packages. In the long run, when you come to do an uninstall (perhaps to cleanup your computer and/or in preparation of installing an updated version of a program or piece of software), you might of forgotten the names of the games/programs/software you installed a long time ago.
What normally happens in this scenario is you come across a program in the list of Installed Programs and Software Packages that you think needs uninstalling, but to play safe you do not uninstall it because you cannot recognise that program's name - "Is it a Game, Program or Piece Of Software?", "If I uninstall it I might be doing the wrong thing and break my computer". Games do not always state in their name GAME and programs very rarely state SOFTWARE or PROGRAM in their name. So the end result is a computer clogged up with unwanted games, programs and pieces of software that tend to slow down the computer in the long run as some of the games, programs and pieces of software may be running a task in the background even though you do not use that game, program or piece of software anymore. In other words, that game, program or piece of software may still be active.
In this example I am going to show you how to uninstall Apple Software (iTunes) although the same uninstallation process applies to any of the programs and software packages in the list of Installed Programs and Software Packages. I have begun by clicking on the PUBLISHER Tab to put the list into Publisher Name order. From there I have clicked on ITUNES (Fig 1.1 above), which has made the UNINSTALL and CHANGE buttons available. As I am uninstalling and not changing the program I have then clicked on the UNINSTALL button (Fig 1.1 also). After doing this Windows 10 begins the actual uninstall (removal) process.
At any time throughout the uninstall (removal) process you might see a UAC Security Requester whereby you should click on its CONTINUE (or YES) button to continue with the uninstall (removal) process or click on its CANCEL button to cancel the uninstall (removal) process, if it is possible to cancel at that stage.
User Account Control (UAC) is a feature of Windows 10 that helps to prevent unauthorized changes to the computer, such as moving a system file or uninstalling software. When attempting to uninstall iTunes UAC automatically blocks you off with a security requester similar to the above, because it wants to know if you are the one attempting to uninstall iTunes and not a piece of malicious software for example. In this case simply click on YES to continue.
Fig 1.3 - Windows 10 is preparing to remove (delete/uninstall) the program called iTunes
At any time throughout the uninstallation you can click on a CANCEL button, if one is available, to Cancel the uninstall (removal) process. However, in some cases (generally speaking) even if you click on a CANCEL button the uninstall (removal) process might have gone too far for it to be stopped, cancelled and/or reversed. So think very carefully before deciding to uninstall any thing from your Computer.
Fig 1.4 - Windows 10 is using the uninstall script and unregistering iTunes (reconfiguring Windows 10)
Fig 1.5 - Windows 10 has almost finished uninstalling (removing/deleting) iTunes
Fig 1.6 - Windows 10 has uninstalled (removed/deleted) iTunes.....but not completely.
Uninstalling (removing/deleting) a program or piece of software in general should be as simple as the above iTunes uninstall (removal) process, but unfortunately it is not always that simple. Some programs (and pieces of software) can be corrupted, virus infected and/or have files missing without you realising it; until you come to do an uninstall for example. In other words: A program might be working fine on the surface but underneath some of its Registry entries may have become corrupt and/or some of its files may have become virus infected, as well as missing, for whatever reason(s).
You may not of noticed anything wrong because those files may only be needed when you use an advanced feature of that program for example. Therefore, those bad files may be the reason why a program cannot be partly or fully uninstalled. They may have become jammed in the system or simply missing, which causes the uninstallation process to fail. In the above example all was well of course.
In Fig 1.4 above the message requester has a green progress gauge on it to give you some idea of when the next thing is going to happen, but how many times the gauge becomes empty and then full again depends on each uninstallation. So just ignore it basically until you see either a System Restart message requester, if one appears at all, or the Programs And Features control panel (window) minus the program you have just uninstalled.
If a System Restart message requester does not appear it means a system (computer) restart is not necessary in order to complete the uninstall. Once the uninstall (removal) process has completed, with or without a system restart and with or without an 'Uninstall Complete' message, the Programs And Features control panel (window) will be update the list of Installed Programs and Software Packages to show the program or piece of software you have just uninstalled is missing and therefore has indeed been uninstalled (Fig 1.6 above).
In the above example I only uninstalled iTunes, but Apple software also comes with extra, independent, pieces of software (Programs / PLUG-INs and/or ADD-ONs) that are installed during the installation of iTunes; Apple Application Support and Bonjour being examples. And it is the same for other software. Adobe Acrobat Reader may come with a Plug-In/Add-On called Spelling Dictionaries Support and Adobe Air. However, plug-ins and add-ons sometimes get overlooked when you are uninstalling a specific program, such as iTunes or Adobe Reader, simply because you may not think they are anything to do with the program (or piece of software) you are uninstalling. And how would you know? when these days software companies tend to put extra software onto your computer whether you like it or not, usually during installation time.
A Plug-In or Add-On is basically an extra program or extra piece of software that is normally independent of its main program or main piece of software, in terms of uninstallation for example. If a plug-in/add-on is not independent, uninstallation-wise, the uninstall process of the main program or main piece of software should warn you of this. For example: "You must uninstall Program-Name Plug-In/Add-On before you uninstall Program-Name".
One way to find out what extra software, plug-ins and/or add-ons needs to be uninstalled along with the actual program you are uninstalling is to look at the company's website, and more precisely to look at the System Requirements. For example: If you install OpenOffice, to use all of its features requires the addition of Java (which comes packaged with OpenOffice). And if you want to use Microsoft Word 2007 to save WORD 2007 Documents as PDF Files you will need to install the add-on called SaveAsPDFandXPS.exe or install a printer driver such as PrimoPDF) together with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (or similar software such as FoxIt) in order to view those PDF Files. Once you know what additional software (plug-in or add-in) is required, or not required but installed regardless, then you will know what you can and cannot install.
Fig 2.0 - Extra Apple Software that might get installed: Bonjour - Apple Application Support - QuickTime Player
In this next example I am uninstalling QuickTime Player simply because I do not need it. I do not use applications (programs/software) that rely on it being installed. And because it is an independent install it can be removed independently too; by right clicking on the QUICKTIME 7 listing and then selecting the UNINSTALL menu-item.
One thing to note here is that sometimes a program or piece of software will tell Windows 10 to use its own, company, uninstall script and not the Programs And Features control panel standard uninstall script, which these days is quite normal. On the good side, programs and software that provide their own uninstall script might tell Windows 10 to uninstall more specific folders/files than would of been uninstalled naturally by the Programs And Features control panel, but on the bad side they might tell Windows 10 to leave specific folders/files in place; so that you cannot re-register the program/software again.
Fig 2.1 - QuickTime Player has been uninstalled (removed/deleted)
Never look down the list of Installed Programs and Software Packages for the icon associated with a program or piece of software because sometimes a program or piece of software can have a generic system icon associated with it instead. For example: Do not specifically look for an OpenOffice icon if you are wanting to uninstall Java. They have completely different icons, even though Java is installed alongside OpenOffice. Hence the reason why you should look for a program, piece of software or plug-in/add-on by its name.
Together with iTunes and QuickTime Player, I have since uninstalled the other Apple programs (Apple Application Support (32-bit) - Apple Application Support (64-bit) - Apple Mobile Device Support - Bonjour - iCloud - Apple Software Update) so that the computer is free from Apple software (programs/plug-ins/add-ons). The next step is delete any fragments they may have left behind (known as: Leftovers).
When a program or piece of software is installed a .log file should of been created by that program, piece of software and/or Windows 10 itself to later inform the uninstall (removal) process about the location of all its installed folders and files. That way the uninstall (removal) process will know where to find them when it needs to uninstall (remove) them.
Unfortunately not all folders and files belonging to an installation are removed. This could be because no .log file was created, therefore Windows 10 makes the decision to only remove the main program/software file and some of its folders and files in order to deactivate the program or piece of software as a whole. Another reason could be that the .log file is created but does not mention some installed folders and files. This normally happens when a software developer wants to know if you have used their software before - The uninstallation process cannot uninstall folders and files it does not know about, therefore when you install the same software again (after an uninstall) that software first tries to find its unknown/hidden/still installed folders and files to determine whether or not you are permitted to install/use the software again.
If you have uninstalled some software that had a 30-Day Trail Period limitation on it for example and then 70 days later installed the software again it probably would not work, due to the installation process checking a hidden file that reports you have already used the software for 30 days. In this scenario it could be difficult to find hidden folders and files. Free-To-Use software, such as iTunes, tend not to use the hidden folders and files 'Trial Period' tactic simply because the software is free-to-use of course. This does not mean they have a good uninstallation process though or create a perfect installation .log file, as the 'leftover fragments" example below demonstrates.
Fig 3.0 - Right click over the APPLE folder and then select DELETE
With APPLE software they leave installation folders and files inside the LOCAL sub-folder of the APP DATA folder, as shown above, and also inside the following sub-folders: APP DATA - LOCAL (Apple Computer and Apple Inc), APP DATA - LOCALLOW (Apple Computer), USER NAME (iCloud Drive), PROGRAM DATA (Apple and Apple Computer), PROGRAM FILES (X86) >> COMMON FILES (Apple) and PROGRAM FILES >> COMMON FILES (Apple). Many of those folders (sub-folders) are naturally hidden folders of the Windows 10 operating system and normally should NOT be deleted. To view them simply tick the HIDDEN ITEMS option (drop-down menu-item or check box) on a folder's VIEW Tab (ribbon).
Fig 3.1 - Tick the HIDDEN ITEMS option to view hidden folders, sub-folders and files
Two main reasons why certain folders, sub-folders and files are not deleted during the uninstall (removal) process are because they are in-use by another application (program or task) and/or because they are a shared resource with another application (program or task).
Basic computer users will find, and even say, the Programs And Features control panel does an adequate enough job at uninstalling software for them. And intermediate users might even attempt the above folder cleanup. However, a "Computer Engineer" will probably go one step further with the 'Leftover Fragments'. They will want to look at the Regisry, in order to clean it up (rid it of leftover Regisry entries), manually with the RegEdit.exe program and/or by using a program such as CCleaner; depending on their level of expertise and so on. NOTE WELL - Cleaning the Registry is not always 100% guarantee to remove leftover software fragments. For example: It may be cleaned of APPLE entries but what if an APPLE entry is called AU9 (for Apple Update 9) and hidden (not logged) for example.....
The Registry is a main component of Windows 10. It is basically like a book full of folders, files and settings entries. Whenever a program, some software or some hardware is installed, modified or uninstalled the book is modified with entries about that program, software or hardware - Where folders and files are stored, who installed them (you or Windows 10), the location of the un/installation (.log) file, the name of the person(s) registered to use the program/software/hardware, the settings of the program/software/hardware and so on.
A Registry Cleaner is a program that searches the Registry (book) for redundant folder, file and setting entries. For example: Below is a redundant APPLE entry. A registry cleaner might find it and determine, through folder and file checking processes, that the entry is no longer valid - It might of determined that APPLE iTunes was uninstalled by looking for another entry that states this. The uninstallation process for example could of created such an entry (i.e. AIU- Apple iTunes Uninstalled). Once the entry is found to be invalid the registry cleaner should clean it (delete it). Over time as each piece of software is installed, modified and/or uninstalled there are so many invalid entries that need cleaning (deleting), so a good registry cleaner is another way to keep your installations/modifications/uninstallations neat and tidy.
Fig 3.2 - Invalid APPLE (QuickTime Player) Registry entries
Fig 3.3 - Can I delete the main Apple Computer Inc folder because QuickTime has been uninstalled already?
TIP! - In some cases you might not be able to delete a main folder's registry entry.....until you delete its sub-folders; like with the above example. The main APPLE COMPUTER INC folder could not be deleted until the QUICKTIME sub-folder and its sub-folders were deleted first.
NOTE WELL - I have explained the Registry and Registry Cleaner to a certain degree so that you understand a little more, but it must be said that Deleting Leftover Fragments, using a Register Cleaner and tampering with Registry entries manually should only be done by Advanced Experienced Users.