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Can't uninstall from control Panel

by toad45 / December 11, 2004 12:23 PM PST

For some reason, most of the programs listed in the add/remove programs tool don't give me the choice to change/remove the program. This is true of any program installed prior to 10/3/04. Did I accidently delete some critical files, and can anything be done to correct it? If not, how do I remove a program?

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Re: Can't uninstall from control Panel
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / December 11, 2004 8:38 PM PST

You haven't said which Windows OS you are using.

If you're using Windows XP or Win2000 you may need to be logged on as an Administrator.

If that doesn't work try downloading and installing TweakUI for windows.


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Re: Can't uninstall from control Panel
by Cursorcowboy / December 11, 2004 9:05 PM PST
This is true of any program installed prior to 10/3/04. Did I accidently delete some critical files, and can anything be done to correct it? If not, how do I remove a program?

You have had major registry corruption which has wiped out the recorded information in this section and there is nothing which can be done about it.

1. How an application is installed and configured by the operating system in question depends on whether it was created for use in Windows or MS-DOS. However, neither has an Uninstall feature:

Note: The Control Panel applet dialogue in Windows simply lists the uninstall feature of programs which were designed with a Windows-compatible uninstall wizard. Some programs add an uninstall reference to the "Add/Remove Programs list" which is part of the requirement for a 32-bit aware program to have the "official Microsoft Windows Logo" on their packaging, and some programs may simply provide a shortcut in the Start Menu or the parent folder instead. If an uninstall option is not listed in the Add/Remove Programs section, check any Readme files in the parent folder which may contain information concerning a removal process.

2. IMHO, here are the important questions?

a. Even when an Uninstall feature is added in the Add/Remove Programs listing or an icon exist somewhere else as mentioned above - perhaps in both places, did the author of that program ensure that when a user uses either his uninstall wizard or the uninstall feature in the Control Panel, it clears/cleans not only the system files but also the entry listed in the Add/Remove Programs dialog as well as every applicable system registry entries? And depending on which process is used, do they accomplish the exact same thing, and depending on which is used could Windows perhaps circumvent certain processes of elimination and leave junk behind regardless of how the author wrote it?

b. We know that uninstalling isn't a clean removal. When a program is uninstall, an uninstall wizard should remove all associated program files and registry entries (ALL, including DLL files too, provided a DLL file has not been subsequently registered for use with another recently installed program).

Note: I often wonder if many authors isn't a little lazy and simply do not write uninstall code to ascertain whether a DLL file included with their program is or is not subsequently registered for use with another application in order to remove it safely and simply ignore this fact and leave the task for a user to deal with.

c. However, it is normal for uninstall wizards to NOT remove:

? program-specific configuration files (usually an x.INI)

? data files

? custom files (eg: custom dictionaries)


a. Because of this, you'll find many folders outstanding in My Computer or the Explorer tree where the parent folder resides.

b. The purpose of this is to allow users to reinstall an application retaining existing customizations/options rather than spending hours and hours reestablishing setup features.

3. Using Add/Remove Programs with WIN32-Based Applications, [Q247501]:

a. Windows simplifies application/program installation and removal by providing this option in the Add/Remove Programs dialog in the Control Panel.

b. Windows adds information about the application to the system registry concerning parameters to use and run an application as well as the uninstall process recorded by the program installation wizard. For example, the following registry key is nothing more than a folder named 'UNINSTALL' with a 'value not set' "Default" in the right window. All programs installed normally (listed in the Add/Remove dialog), is listed under this key by name and the appropriate process for removing it in the right window.


c. Should the name in Add/Remove Program dialog not be descriptive enough for your taste, change it either there or use PowerToy's, TweakUI. TweakUI also will remove items listed in the dialog, but it does not uninstall - it simply removes a name.

d. For example. The entry concerning TweakUI (two lines), when installed on a system:

"DisplayName"="Tweak UI"
"UninstallString"="C:\\Windows\\rundll.exe setupx.dll,InstallHinfSection DefaultUninstall 4 C:\\Windows\\Inf\\Tweakui.Inf"

4. Caveats:

a. Windows may be unable to access files stored in cabinet (.cab) files. For example, when you are trying to install a component using the Add/Remove Programs tool, the component may not be installed and you may not receive any errors, [Q139426]

b. You may notice that all of the programs installed on the system may not be displayed in the Add/Remove Programs dialog. This behavior occurs if a program's DisplayName, or uninstall key name, is longer than 63 characters. To correct, edit entries in the system registry to less than 63 characters, [Q240348]. Otherwise, if TweakUI is installed, see if it is possible to edit the entry with it.

5. Removing Applications:

a. When applications/programs designed for Windows were installed, always use either the Add/Remove Programs tool or when otherwise provided, run the uninstall process discussed by the program vendor. Since the components and options of a program are tracked through the system registry, an uninstall wizard provided by the publisher should deletes everything applicable, with the exception of a few DLL files which may have been registered subsequently for use with a later program/application install. For more information about removing an application that was designed for Windows, see online Help. For all other applications, check for program documentation (Readme) files for resolution or uninstall instructions.

b. Removing a Win16-based or MS-DOS-based application is not always straightforward. You can delete the folder containing the program files, but especially in the case of Win16-based applications, additional files belonging to it may also exist anywhere on the system as determined by the install program used. There is no way to determine which files - if any, meet this scenario, and it is next to impossible to identify and remove them.

c. In the same breath, that scenario could apply to entries/options written to/in the Win.INI and System.INI files. Many Win16-based and MS-DOS-based applications write information to these files. When having removed certain files, a system may report system errors concerning a missing file which it cannot use or run. When this occurs, it is simply the user's responsibility to find and eradicate those bogus pointers. Be sure to check both files when receiving notices of this sort.

d. Conversely, should all files assumed associated with a removed application be removed from the \Windows or \System folders, a system file could inadvertently be deleted and render a system inoperable -- particularly if it is know that a DLL files was distributed with it but the DLL file has already been registered for subsequent use by another application.

e. To avoid problems when removing Win16-based or MS-DOS-based applications check their documentation for instructions before removal and keep backup copies of DLL and assumed essential files archived somewhere for a few days before actually eradication them totally. It is my contention to never delete DLL files from either the \Windows or \System folder since in most instances, their hard drive space use is nil.

Note: There is a fee-based program which is great for maintaining information during an initial install process that may be used later for eradicating junk installed -- both files and registry entries: "InCtrl5", Version 1.0 Copyright (c) 2000 Ziff Davis Media, Written by Neil J. Rubenking: First Published in PC Magazine, US Edition, December 5, 2000, v19n21

6. Removing Programs from the ADD/Remove Programs List:

a. To remove items listing in the Add/Remove Programs dialog which can not be removed conventionally because a user has already deleted some/all of the folders/files belonging a program or a registry has become corrupted, manually edit the system registry:

b. To start the System Registry Editor, click Start, Run, type regedit, and then press Enter.

HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Uninstall

Note: Click the Plus box in front of HKLM to expand it and continue clicking/expanding appropriate folders (each word preceded by a slash in the above key) until reaching the last folder named "Uninstall".

c. Under the "UNINSTALL" tree will be keys named for programs installed similar to those listed in the Add/Remove Program dialog.

d. Highlight a key name to remove or rename by clicking it.

e. To delete, click Edit, Delete; use a right-mouse click and Delete; or press the "Del key", and then press Enter.

f. To rename, right-click the key name and select rename and type information wanted.

g. Click Registry in the main menu and select Exit to save the session. Or simply click the x in the URHC of the window to close the Registry Editor tool. Respond with an affirmative to save the editing and to close the editor.

7. Reinstall the program and uninstall properly.

8. Use TweakUI to remove an entry from the Add/Remove Programs list. Note: TweakUI simply remove an orphan entries -- it does nothing else.

9. Other possibilities:

a. In most cases, Windows "Updates" can be safely and easily uninstalled and replaced with the original versions of the updated components. This is typically facilitated by an INF file copied to the Windows folder during installation of an Update. If they are not in the Windows folder, look for a sub-folder under the INF folder or use the Find function and search for *un.inf. This file typically has a name in the form <xxxxx>un.inf. This INF file can be used to uninstall the Windows "Updates" by using the right mouse button to click the file in Windows Explorer, and then clicking 'Install' on the menu that appears.

Note: When a Windows "Updates" is uninstalled, you are prompted for the original installation disks or CD-ROM. The original version of certain removed files are then copied back to the system. When this type of un-installation is complete you typically need to restart the computer for the change to take effect.

b. Some programs furnish a DEISL?.isu (where ? is a number) file for uninstalling and is usually placed in the parent folder of the program.

Note: If you try to remove a program through the Add/Remove section and receive an error that no DEISL?.ISU file was found, you'll have to manually remove the program and files as well as the registry entries.

c. In some cases an executable file UNWISE.EXE may be located in the individual program folder for uninstall the program.

d. If no other means is furnished, such as an uninstall shortcut created by the installation program wizard the usual procedure for running an uninstall may be:

Uninst.exe -f (pathname)\DEISL1.isu (sometimes it's ISUnist.exe)

e. In some instances you may find an Install.log file in the parent folder. For instance, you would type the following on the Start | Run line in Windows (substituting the correct paths and folder names):

Uninstall.exe (pathname)\INSTALL.LOG

f. If a program listing, or the entire list is lost from the Add/Remove Programs dialog, it is next to impossible to reconstruct so don't even try. Anyone who can maneuver to the above mentioned Registry key should take a look at the different varieties of uninstall strings associated with programs and I think they'll have to agree. However, for a computer which has lost the ability to record program in the Control Panel applet, they should ensure that the above mentioned registry key exist, and if not, add it. Hopefully, the next installation process will take affect and function as designed.
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Re: Can't uninstall from control Panel
by TONI H / December 11, 2004 10:41 PM PST

You might try using the MS Installer program which specifically will uninstall items listed in Add\Remove Programs that won't uninstall the normal way through that program.

From what I understand about this program (free) will list them all in a window that you can choose from the list of what you want it to unintall for you and it will remove it from the Add\Remove Programs list when it does.;en-us;290301

Windows Installer Cleanup Utility can be downloaded from the above link and it will remove installed programs that can't be uninstalled from the Add-Remove Programs List because you don't have the cd anymore or because the program itself can't locate its uninstall file info.

There is one version of this utility available for individual windows versions from W95, W98, ME, NT 4.0, 2K, XP, and Server 2003. Direct download can be reached at this link:


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