Computer Newbies forum

General discussion

Uninstalling AOL?

by Marie Boyer / July 11, 2005 7:58 PM PDT

I bought my sister a new computer last night. (Windows XP Home/EMachine). I uninstalled AOL, among other "trial" products. After unninstalling AOL, I went back into the "add or remove programs" and AOL was still listed (with many other AOL services). I clicked "remove" again, and the computer told me there was no evidence of AOL on her computer. Why is AOL still listed as a program under the "add or remove" list? Is there a way to remove it form the list now that it is off her computer?

p.s. This was after several re-boots, so I know it was not a matter of re-booting. And, you should know that every other program that I uninstalled last night removed like a charm (and no longer on the list).

Thanks in advance!!!

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Re: Uninstalling AOL?
by Tufenuf / July 11, 2005 9:35 PM PDT
In reply to: Uninstalling AOL?
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Follow up question
by Marie Boyer / July 12, 2005 1:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: Uninstalling AOL?

I am terrified about doing anything to the registry on this brand new computer (or on any computer for that matter).

Will this program do it for me so I do not mess up her computer? I guess what I am asking is: once I download this program, is it self-explanatory what I click to remove aol? (I have read strong warnings about doing anything to the registry. I would prefer not to touch it myself. But if the download will do it for me, I feel safer.)

Thanks for your help, all of you!

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Re: Follow up question
by Tufenuf / July 12, 2005 4:03 AM PDT
In reply to: Follow up question

Marie, AOHell leaves behind many,many registry entries which if you're uncomfortable with the registry just leave it alone. The left behind registry entries won't harm anything. What I'd recommend it for you to download Add-Remove Pro then just remove the AOL entries using the Remove Entry button.


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Thank you, Tufenuf
by Marie Boyer / July 12, 2005 7:06 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: Follow up question

What you suggest seems like it might be user friendly. I will download the product and give it a whirl. Hope you do not mind if I hop back on here if I encounter difficulty. Your help is much appreciated!!!!!

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How to rid your system of all AOL files.
by AOL_Hater / September 10, 2007 8:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Follow up question

1.)Press the Alt,Ctrl,Delete keys simultaneously.
2.)Click on the Processes tab.
3.)Scroll down the list and click on any processes that begin with aol,one at a time.
4.)Click the End Process tab at the bottom of the window for each one.
5.)Close the window.
6.)Click on Start,Search,All files and folders.
7.)Click on Advanced Options
8.)Select Search System Folders, Search Hidden Files and Folders and Search SubFolders.
9.)Click Search.
10.)Highlight each one found going down the list, right click it and click Delete.
11.)Empty your recycle bin.
12.)I used installed and subscribed to PC Tools,Registry Mechanic. It works great and so far has been 100% safe for me.
13.)I would suggest printing this out and following the steps closely.
Good Luck!

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Ummm.. 'Highlight each one found going down the list'? NO..
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / September 11, 2007 2:13 AM PDT

...."right click it and click Delete." Unless I missed something, you forgot to put AOL in your search criteria. It appears like you're suggesting a deletion of ALL FOLDERS AND FILES...

I suggest NOT performing the steps you've suggested as they could delete necessary files and folders for other programs as well.. (It's probably a typo but actually following step 9 would probably throw an error because you didn't include any text to search for..)

You might want to instead "fine tune" your instructions so files and folders which contain the words "AOL" are deleted..

Printing out those instructions and following them closely (Step # 13) might cause issues.

Hope this helps.


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You are right. That was a typo!
by AOL_Hater / September 11, 2007 7:52 PM PDT

I left out one VERY IMORTANT step. In you search boxes enter aol. Small letters instead of caps is fine. My apologies to all readers.
Thanks Grif.

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Unwanted Add/Remove Programs entries:
by Paul C / July 11, 2005 11:17 PM PDT
In reply to: Uninstalling AOL?

You should clean the Registry. You can try the freebie RegSeeker, available at . Please note that uninstalling AOL leaves a whole bunch of junk around that doesn't get removed in the uninstall.

If the problem persists, a simple Registry edit can be found here. In your case, you'd remove all references to AOL in that Registry key.

Or you could just download TweakUI, which will do it for you...

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Abit more...
by Willy / July 11, 2005 11:49 PM PDT
In reply to: Uninstalling AOL?

AOL has so many references to it under the registry, its a hard one to remove. AOL has its own uninstall feature under its pgm. listing which should have been more complete. Alas, you're stuck with at least the listing on add/remove, provided the pgms. themselves are gone. Other posters offered TweakUI and AddRemove Pro, darn good pgms. to use for such tasks, get them. Before you remove the last AOL listing, click(hi-lite) and using AddRemove Pro pgm. notice where it was installed directory. Thus, you can manually delete any leftover items as you now know the install location, just be sure you delete only that, then use Add/Remove Pro to delete the add/remove listings. done!

tada -----Willy Happy

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Removing AOL
by tlhorne / July 14, 2005 10:34 PM PDT
In reply to: Uninstalling AOL?

The only sure way to fully remove AOL is to reformat the Hard Drive and reinstall the entire operating system. Everything else is just partial. AOL is horrid about hiding in out of the way places and coming back to haunt you weeks and months later.

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Removing AOL Files, Folders and Registry Entries
by Zonny / July 15, 2005 2:24 AM PDT
In reply to: Removing AOL

I do this all the time for my customers. Here are the steps I follow:

1. Use Add/Remove from the Control Panel. Make sure you include all versions and special add-ins, if so prompted.

(While you are at it you might want to remove the onerous resource hog Real Player and Netscape which packages with AOL.)

2. Alternative to #1 is using AOl's uninstall feature.

Neither #1 or #2 catches all the files or folders.

3. Go to Start/Search/Find Files or folders. Then Search for: *aol*.* Should pick up a few.
Then Search for *america*.* Should pick up a few more.

At this point the files and folders should be gone.

4. I use a licensed registry cleaner called CLEANMYPC (cost $25.) Run it and find hundred of registry entries associated with AOL (and Real). There are a lot of good registry cleaners.

This is a 15 minute job. Good luck.

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Zonny and Paul C, would you say
by Marie Boyer / July 15, 2005 11:26 AM PDT

that CleanMyPC is better than the freebie that Paul C recommends in earlier post above? Are they the same type of product? (I would love to go with the freebie if I can.)

p.s. May seem like a stupid question, but will a "registry cleaner" ask me what to clean? Is there a place where I tell it to remove "aol" entries from the registry? Is it that simple?

Thanks to eeryone for your help on this!!!

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by Paul C / July 15, 2005 8:05 PM PDT

As Zonny note in his post, "there are a lot of good Registry cleaners." Alas, I know nothing about the program he recommends, but this I do know: Each Registry cleaner has its own quirks and ways it does things; each seems to concentrate on different areas, so there's no uniformity among them.

The program I recommended will let you just search for entries named "AOL", and delete those entries. All you do is use the "Find in Registry" option. It also creates a backup file of the deleted entries - just in case.

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Thanks so much, Paul C!!!!!
by Marie Boyer / July 15, 2005 8:22 PM PDT
In reply to: Marie,

Much appreciated!!!

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That freakin aol
by TheMadProfessor / August 20, 2005 7:18 AM PDT
In reply to: Marie,

What a pain. I eventually was so tired of dealing with their quagmire of spyware and b.s. that I went to regedit (windows xp) and typed in search for all aol references and deleted them one by one. It was to the point where I didn't care what else failed. Fortunatly for me, there were no ill effects after this, but in retrospect I would highly recommend using at least the trial version of jv16 power tools. It also creates backups, and if you take the time to read the manual (you'll need adobe, but I think it comes with the download) you'll be very happy. Good luck and death to the evil empire. (AOL)

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Registry Cleaners
by bderou2 / July 15, 2005 8:22 PM PDT

Hi Marie!
I do feel sorry for you, having to take on the task of cleaning AOL! That's one of the main reasons why I detest that program and that 'service'...boy do I use that term loosly.

Anyway, in nearly all the Registry cleaners I've ever used, they usually have a safe mode of sorts and an advaced mode. Since you say you're nervous, what I'd suggest is make sure that...

1. Before you do anything, Make sure System Restore is on and make a restore point prior to do anything. Do that by going to:

a. Start - programs - Accessories - System Tools, System Restore.
b. Follow the prompts to creating a restore point.

This is allow you to return to that point with your system, in the unlikely event something does go wrong.

2. Simply make sure that whatever one you use, you're using the safe mode or saftey settings...whatever that particular version calls it.

NOw this MAY not remove everything from AOL, but it's worth trying. Even if you do have to go to the advaced mode to get rid of it all, creating that system restore point should protect you by giving you a place to return to in the event of a problem.

Good luck!!


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RE: Registry Cleaners
by Tom500102 / July 15, 2005 11:06 PM PDT
In reply to: Registry Cleaners


There are several registry cleaner programs that can be found on the Internet. The one I use is Registry Mechanic, Version 5; it can be found at The download file size is about 3.5MB. I've been using Registry Mechanic for over a year and haven't had any problems. I've got 1 Dell desktop running Windows 2000, 1 HP desktop running Windows XP Home Edition, and a HP laptop running Windows XP Home Edition. Registry Mechanic is on all three computers.

Registry Mechanic has a feature that can create a restore point on a XP computer before any changes are made to the registry. It costs $ 24.95 and I think it is well worth the price.

Beware of some free registry cleaners you might find on the Internet. Before I started using RM, I tried a free cleaner that completely TRASHED the registry to the point the computer would not boot up to the Windows welcome screen. I got the dreaded message, "Windows cannot start due to the following file is corrupt or missing: Windows/System32/Config\System. This program was Tweak UI, I believe.

Good luck, I hope this helps.


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remove aol
by chattychris / August 17, 2005 12:57 PM PDT

Hi Zonny

After I find all files on aol (38 of them listed) I'm not sure how to eliminate them at that point....I tried to right click and delete, but it did absolutely nothing...thank you. Your instructions were geared towards me, however when I got that far, I was/am stumped. Thank you. Christy

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Removing AOL
by maymanj / June 12, 2006 2:26 AM PDT

My operating system is Windows XP. I was running AOL 9.0. I have gone through the steps you have listed but I still have a handful of aol files that come up "access denied" that I cannot delete. I've tried to go straight to my C drive and delete them and I still can't.

Thank You for any help you can give me,
Fred Linsley

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Fred, Try It In Safe Mode..
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / June 12, 2006 2:41 AM PDT
In reply to: Removing AOL

Start the machine in Safe Mode using the instructions in the link below:

How To Start In 'Safe Mode'

When you've finished making the deletions in Safe Mode, simply reboot the machine and it should start in "normal" Windows again.

Hope this helps.


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My AOL Removal Solution
by dcmorris / July 18, 2005 3:26 AM PDT
In reply to: Removing AOL

I un-installed AOL years ago (98SE) following instructions form this site. Although there were vestiges of AOL left over they had no further impact. (It was annoying, though, to see "Microsoft Internet Explorer Provided By AOL" every time I opened my browser.)
Final solution? It solved itself when I finally had to replace my PC.


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Too late now, but that
by Ray Harinec / July 18, 2005 4:03 AM PDT

title can be changed in the registry to say anything you want it to. Two different locations in the registry.

make by the "Greatest and your name. LOL"

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AOL Removal plus Norton
by taboma. / July 20, 2005 11:42 AM PDT

Without special software programs.
I had the same problems with AOL and also Norton Anti-Virus being deleated from my PC running Widows 95 recently. Keys Baker gave me the solution and how to do it. It worked. I also keep important posts and information from the Moderators (Toni) and knowledgeable posters in a folder that I call CNET Stuff. Good idea to do so.
Here it is and I think all can use it.

There are so many Norton products and programs and each version has its own pecularities. So in general the only things that can be said are:
- use Control Panel>Add/Remove
- use the uninstall shortcut the install has put in the Start>Programs menu
- find the manual uninstall instructions on, although it's doubtful if they are still available for old versions you probably have

Hope this helps.


It's safe to delete everything in c:\windows\temp. And it's safe to clean the Temporary Internet Files from IE>Tools>Internet options.
And it's safe to delete all files in My Documents you don't need anymore.

That should do it, in my opinion.


Posted by: Kees Bakker Posted on: 03/31/2005 1:07 PM

It's safe to delete them ... TEMP Internet Files

even in normal mode (I'm speaking from experience), but the TIF is something special, so there is no guarantee at all that these files really are duplicates. In fact, if you delete them, there's no need to delete them into the recycle bin. Using shift-del just delete them. Of course, you shouldn't be running IE at the same time.

But the 'official' way (and just as easy, if not easier) to clean this folders is using (in IE) Tools>Internet Options>General and clear-TIF-button. Nothing wrong with that, in my opinion.


t is 110% safe to delete the files in this
plus History and Cookies sub-folders.

The sub-folders name in TIF and History
folders are arbitrary. Since all the folders and sub-folders have Attribute +S, it is very difficult to
delete these folders or the sub-folders. Whether
you delete the files from IE interface or Safe Mode
or from DOS mode, there is nothing to worrry about.
On re-start of IE all these 3 folders will get

Alternate procedure. Make a Batch file and keep
it at C:\Windows


Posted by: Gatta Posted on: 03/30/2005 7:58 AM

Depending on the version of W95

there are other old Win3.1 or WFW files that can also be addition, making an adjustment to Scandisk will also eliminate all those File000.chk files that take up lots of space on a harddrive.

Here's a list of files I called 'safe deletables" back when I had W95A and most people were installing the update right over the top of W3.1 or WFW. Since I don't know if that's what version is installed, I'll include the list here and even if all of the files aren't located, you can just ignore what you don't find.








REGEDIT..EDIT..FIND..TYPE IN SHELLNEW DELETE ALL FILE TYPES SUCH AS AMNIPRO, ETC THAT YOU WILL PROBABLY NEVER HAVE A REASON TO NEED OR WANT. Note: If you are leery of using/editing the Registry, leave these alone as they aren't hurting anything to be there.
If someone is running low on disk space, a good place to look is at the .ibx and .mbx files in the Mail folder (If you are using IE5 or higher the file extensions will be .dbx instead). This folder holds every message they have received or sent plus all the ones they have "deleted". You can save important messages before you send them and can save read messages before you delete them by clicking File and then Save As. By going to your Tools\Options in the toolbar and on the General tab, check Empty Messages from the Deleted Folder on the Send tab, uncheck Save a copy in the
Sent Apply, then click OK. If you already have alot of messages in your Mail folder, you may have to read the .mbx files (open them in Outlook Express to do this), find the ones you want to save, highlight them, and save them to a separate file... then delete the .ibx and .mbx files for Inbox, Outbox, Sent, and Delete...they will rebuild themselves the next time you open your mail program when you send or receive new messages...but you won't be building up alot of harddrive space anymore with the new settings in your mail program.

Wanna free up some space on your hard drive(s)? What files could be safe to delete? Here's a short list that covers the major files that might disappear without disastrous ramifications. Keep in mind that YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY (YMMV), so instead of deleting the files first, move them to a "Delete" folder; when you've run your computer without encountering any related problems for a couple of weeks, it is probably safe to get rid of everything in that "Delete" folder. To find these files, hit the "F3" key and type in "*.XXX" with .XXX being the listed extension. Make sure you search your entire computer instead of simply one folder!
* .CHK -- Scandisk backup file; if there's lost clusters found when you run Scandisk, these files will be created. They will not come back, but new ones can be created with future Scandisk uses. Note: Some programs also create .chk type files so make sure you are deleting the ones that begin with File000.
* .GRP -- Program Manager Group file; if you never use Program Manager anymore, why keep these around? They will not come back, but an install program could create new ones.
* .GID -- HLP-related file; when you run a Help file, it creates a "GID" to make future accesses to that particular help file a tad quicker. They're a complete waste of space, and usually the worst disk-hog offenders. You'll have to delete these on a regular basis, as they are recreated with every Help file execution.
* .FTS -- HLP-related file; when you perform a search with a Help file, this is created to make all future searches be performed quicker. Eh, not worth having around unless you use HLP files on a daily basis. They'll reappear if you do a search in a HLP file, so these should be regularly scanned for and deleted.
* .CNT -- HLP-related file; ever notice those tables of contents when you launch certain Help files? If you don't need a table to help you navigate through a Help file, delete these. They will not come back.
* .AVI -- Movie file; if you know how to use Windows, don't keep these things around. Make sure you "watch" them before deleting them, because you might delete a movie you wanted to keep. Still, they could be lurking on your hard drive(s).
* .TMP -- Temporary file; when you exit out of Windows without shutting down everything, these files could be littering your hard drive (typically, they can be found in the \Windows\Temp\ folder). Many programs have temp files to help speed up processes; they're a necessary evil. You might find hundreds of these just waiting to be deleted.
* .~MP -- Temporary file; see .tmp.
* .BAK -- Old file; when a new version of a program comes along, sometimes it will rename the old version with an .bak extension. Be careful when removing these files.
* .$$$ - Old file; see .bak (usually, not always)
* .OLD -- Old file; see .bak.

* What to Throw Away
When you install (or upgrade) to Windows 98, there are many files placed in your root and Windows directories that can be deleted. These include:
In your root directory:
Anything with the extensions *.TXT, *.PRV, *.LOG, *.OLD, *.- - -, and *.DOS (unless you use the dual-boot feature)
If you don't plan on uninstalling Windows 98, you can delete WIN95UNDO.DAT (if it's there).
In your Windows directory:
Anything with the extensions *.LOG, *.OLD, *.- - -, *.BAK, and *.000, *.001 (and so on...)
Any files with the following dates can also be deleted, for they belong to old versions of Windows:
03-10-92 - Windows 3.1
09-30-92 - Windows for Workgroups 3.1
11-01-93 - Windows for Workgroups 3.11
12-31-93 - Windows 3.11
Do a search (Start Menu -> Find -> Files or Folders) and search for any *.BMP and *.TXT files in the Windows 98 directory. Use QuickView to view them, and delete them if desired.
In your Windows\System directory:
The entire WIN32S directory under your System directory - this is used only in Windows 3.x to allow certain 32-bit applications to run, but some older applications errantly install it in Windows 98. If you remove this directory, make sure to remove any references to it in your SYSTEM.INI file, and restart Windows 98.
In your Temp directory (usually Windows\Temp):
You should never delete any files from this directory, unless the dates of the files are earlier than the last time you booted up. Your applications use these files to store temporary information, and won't function properly if you try to remove them. Usually, any files in this directory that are more than a day old can be safely removed.
Anywhere on your system:
Other files that can be deleted include MSCREATE.DIR (an absolutely useless hidden file created by Microsoft installation programs - there may be hundreds of these empty files on your hard disk - see Slack Space.)
Any directory named, ~MSSETUP.T - this is a temporary directory created during the installation of a program, and can be freely deleted once the installation is complete.
Uninstallation Files:
There may be up to 70 megabytes of "uninstallation" information - files kept around if you decide to remove Windows 98 (assuming you've upgraded from Windows 95).
The best way to get rid of these files (surprisingly) is to use the Tune-Up Wizard - don't bother with the scheduling of Scandisk and Disk Defragmenter (unless you want to) - it will present you with a list of the useless files you can remove. Hack away!
Files NOT to delete:
Anything in your SYSBCKUP directory.
Your Registry (SYSTEM.DAT, SYSTEM.DA0, USER.DAT, USER.DA0), as well as SYSTEM.1ST, which you can use if the first four become corrupted.
Any files in your root directory not mentioned above.
If in doubt:
If you're not sure if something should be deleted, try moving it to another directory first to see if it makes a difference.
Check the file's date - if it's recent, most likely it's still being used.
For information on removing a particular application, contact the manufacturer of that application, or refer to the application's documentation.

Many times, after installing an application, the program will leave temporary or compressed work files on the drive, but not in a TEMP area. These files will clutter your drive, and would be difficult to detect if vendors didn't use some simple standards. There are several standards for these files, but fortunately not too many to prevent locating and cleaning them up. Search your whole hard drive with File Find for files named _*.* , ~*.* , *.??_ , and *.??~ .

Using File Find, locate *.GID. These files are help index files which get created whenever you use help in an application. Deleting the files will provide you with some disk space, and in the event you actually need to use help within an application, the files are recreated automatically upon usage.

Also locate *.AVI. Several applications, including many Microsoft applications use these animation files to help users master skills like pointing, clicking, dragging, maximizing, minimizing, etc. Chances are your hard drive contains many of these files which are of no use to anyone except the most novice of users.

When installing applications, most software vendors include simple text files to deal with problems that may arise. Sometimes the files contain important information about driver releases, and support contact information, but most are seldom needed past the installation stage. Use File Find to locate *READ*ME*. You'll be surprised at how many there actually are.


Posted by: TONI H Moderator Posted on: 04/01/2005 4:01 AM

That's the file that I saved from this Forum. Well worth saving files like this. Great info. Hope that I helped,


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AOL Problems
by jbellitti / July 16, 2005 1:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Uninstalling AOL?

One problem that you may of encounted is that you did not begin the un-install process correctly. You need to go to the control panel and go to add-delete software then choose un-install AOL. If you have an older Windows 95, 98 or ME OS then you could get a message at that point which gives you a choice of options...these options can destroy your OS in the way it works (given what you have already mentioned) i.e., if you answered yes to all then look out, you may need to reinstall the Windows OS again by doing a complete restore, however, if you ansered no to all then you would have better luck. The problem is no one tells the user that all programs share a portion of the OS in order to get its instructions for later use, that being the case if you delete part of the OS which is shared then you will have complications down the road.
My suggestion if you are using any of the above OS's is to upgrade either the software or both software and hardware for better overall performance.

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Did it work
by gutta / March 1, 2007 4:28 PM PST
In reply to: Uninstalling AOL?

I am thinking of removing aol for the second time the last time I tried removing it I was having problems accessing emails. Fortunately, it was my router unfortunately I thought it was aohell so i figured i would uninstall it and try reinstalling it. was I surprised at the out come? HELL yea! My OS was corrupted and it cost me a hundred bucks a week and a half without my cpu and i still had to pay my isp for that week. I was blind and stupid and never would have dreamed aol would install fail safe mechanisms to keep you pluged in to there network

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(NT) Uninstall all AOL software
by RichMack / February 22, 2010 10:38 AM PST
In reply to: Uninstalling AOL?
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AOL Removal
by Misterjinx / October 13, 2010 11:35 PM PDT
In reply to: Uninstalling AOL?

Hello, I was having some of the same problems I'm hearing about from some of you. You'r trying to remove AOL but it resurfaces . . . EVERYWHERE! doesn't it? I came across a gentleman a few years back who helped solve my problem within five minutes. Now I know this works for Vista but I've yet to have an opportunity to try it with another OS. Follow these instructions to a tee and THEN proceed to remove AOL icons, files, etc from the control panel "Add/Remove programs and hardware'
To remove AOL from startup, hold down the Windows Key, and press R

Then, type "msconfig", accept the UAC prompt, and go to the Startup tab

Scroll down till you see the programs that say "AOL" and uncheck them.

Then, click Apply/OK, and reboot your computer.

I hope this was helpful foor someone! Happy

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What a pain in the A&&!
by gl1200phil / December 1, 2010 4:14 PM PST
In reply to: AOL Removal

This thread being FIVE YEARS OLD sez a lot! Tired of not figuring out how to open a .art file, AOL's own file, thought I'd just go ahead and install AOHell (stole this from above), open the couple of files I wanted to open, uninstall the gargage. BIG MISTAKE! After using the XP ininstaller with the AOHell alledged search, a simple search came aup with 78 hits! I hit select all and deleted. I then went to the registry, so far, probably over 100 entries and many more to go... that why I'm here after google search trying to find faster method.... doesn't seem to be the case. Uninstalling will get rid of some stuff, BUT WON'T CLEAN OUT REGISTRY. MORE THAN LIKELY TO SHOW BACK UP! I might be wrong, I;m no whizz, but that has been my previous experience. I believe these are less than less than reputable practices...designed to keep coming back. Some people will just re-install to quit having to deal with the BS, trying to get them uninstalled for good, when they keep asking to be reinstalled.

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