From the Kenosha News on 2-26-06

Remove unwanted and annoying programs

In the past few weeks, three readers have asked how to remove some unused or pesky programs permanently. Perhaps you’ve installed Yahoo toolbar or WeatherBug and now don’t want them. Or perhaps you’d like to remove MSN Messenger or another program that came with your computer. In some cases, you’ll need to uninstall an older version of a program – like Symantec anti-virus or AdAware – before you can install the newer one. If you may need to free up space on your hard drive; removing programs helps more than deleting files. Finally, rather than just unchecking an item in MSCONFIG (as described in my Feb 5 column), you can remove the program to take if off the list completely.

There are two ways you can do this. First, some applications – including Google Desktop and WeatherBug – come with their own uninstallers. Access them through the Start -> All Programs menu. The uninstaller will be in the same program group as the program itself.

The second option is more universal and can be used to uninstall any program – even ones with their own uninstaller. Click on the Start menu and go to Control Panel. Double-click Add or Remove Programs. Scroll down through the programs, and click on the one you want to remove. Click the Remove button. Follow the prompts or menus to remove the program.

Be careful when removing programs. If you know you want to remove something, that’s fine, but don’t remove programs you can’t identify. Just because you don’t recognize a program’s name doesn’t mean it isn’t important. For example, if you remove a Java program, some web pages may not display properly any more.

When you click on a program, it should show you how often it’s used (never, rarely, or occasionally.) Often, this assessment is incorrect. Even though I use AOL Instant Messenger every day at work, the control panel lists it as “rarely” used. It shows that I use Microsoft Office “occasionally” even though I use that daily as well. If there is no classification, then it’s possible the program has never been used. Still be careful before deleting a program that might be a configuration tool for your computer.

Note that Internet Explorer is not listed among the programs. Consistent with Microsoft’s claim that IE is an integral part of Windows and not an application, it is listed under “Windows components” along with programs like Windows Messenger, Windows Media Player, and various Accessories. To remove any of these items, click on the “Add or Remove Windows Components” icon at the left.

Once you’ve removed a program, “dead” desktop shortcuts may still remain. Remember that removing a shortcut to a program will not remove the program itself, and sometimes removing the program does not remove the shortcut. You can delete the shortcut manually by clicking on it once to highlight it and then pressing the Delete key on your keyboard. For an automated cleaning of dead shortcuts, use a program like System Mechanic. You can get a 30 day free trial of System Mechanic from System Mechanic can also clean up any files left behind after removing a program.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 2-26-06