How to uninstall anything: free apps that get the job done


Forget Windows’ add/remove programs, there are free programs out there that can do a much better job uninstalling programs, cleaning up afterwards, and/or removing programs in batch.

This article presents three handy free programs designed to remove installed applications from your system: Appremover (uninstalls security applications), PC Decrapifier (removed preinstalled crapware), and Revo Uninstraller (cleans up after uninstalling).

All three are portable (or, in the case of Revo, have a portable version available).

1- Appremover: uninstalls security applications

Have you ever uninstalled a security application only to discover that related files/folders/registry entries still remain on your computer? For some reason (I cannot put my finger on) this is actually not uncommon when uninstalling various antivirus and security apps. I remember uninstalling Norton AV many (many) years ago only to find traces of it all over my PC; at the time I used a free “Remove Norton” type app that did the job of really removing it completely. Appremover is similar, except it is not simply Norton specific and uninstalls a wide range of security programs.

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick2- PC Decrapifier: uninstalls many pre-installed trialware/shareware/crapware programs that come pre-installed on PC – in batch.

This one came out a couple of years ago and has become an indispensable part of my repertoire of tools whenever I work on a brand new computer (or, occasionally, when I work on Friends’ computers). PC Decrapifier supports a database of trialware programs and/or programs that come pre-installed on many brand name PCs. This database is constantly being updated, so always update or get the latest version of this program from its website when you need to use it.

One thing to note, however, is that there may be some programs on the list that you *may* not want to uninstall, so make sure that you browse the list of apps it found on your computer and uncheck anything you would like to keep before you run. Be especially careful if you’ve bought a license for a program whose trial version typically comes installed on new PCs (e.g. Adobe Reader,

PC Decrapifier is free for personal use, for commercial use you need to purchase a license. Paid version includes

3- Revo Uninstaller: to say that this one is a replacement for Microsoft’s inbuilt Add/Remove is an understatement; it’s Add/Remove’s distant cousin who discovered a cure for cancer and now spends his time securing medical supplies to needy kids in the third world (when he’s not writing a freeware blog, that is ;) ).

What do you do if a program does not have an installer in Add/Remove? Look for an installer in it’s “Start Menu” entries first thing, then look in the program folder for an executable that looks like an uninstaller (something like uninstall.exe or unwise.exe). If you don’t find one then point Revo to the app (in hunter mode) and select Freewaregenius 5-Star Pickuninstall; it will remove the program and all associated files from the hard drive and will most likely clean all traces of it in the registry (I’ve done this on occasion with good results). Note: Revo will also uninstall .NET Framework, Java.

Revo’s attraction is its combination of form and function; where form is concerned, the program looks pretty and will let you filter your list by typing something in, will let you sort by the date column (or any other column) in detail view, and will display your list of installed programs as icons, which looks really good.

But the function part is even better; Revo will look for and clean all traces of the program on the hard drive and in the registry. It offers 3 uninstall modes (safe, moderate, and advanced), whereby the user can set the level of aggressiveness that Revo will use when looking for traces. I always use “Moderate” scan, and can report that in over a year of usage it has always performed admirably; consistently finding and cleaning up leftover files and registry items and never removing any entries it shouldn’t have or otherwise causing any problems. I will recommend, however, that you always take a look at the list of registry entries slated for deletion, especially if uninstalling an app that has a very similar name to another app on your machine (e.g. app 1 is named “file split and merge”, whilst app 2 is named “split and merge files” or “Bob’s file split and merge”).

Links to program pages:

  • Tima

    Thanks for the article! I,ve never heard of Appremover, though I used both others. What a hell of a time I had when I could not uninstall Norton Internet Security which was pre-installed on my vista PC when I bought it, and only after a while I removed it completly by means of Norton Removal Tool.
    If you state that Appremover is that good at uninstalling any security program then it,s gonna be a “must-have” one in my collection of portable progs.

  • charleskane

    Tima: Symantec offer a Norton Removal Tool will fix your Norton AV issues, there’s a McAffee Removal tool too

  • Toni

    In my experience the Norton removal tool isn’t very good. It does the job on shallow inspection but traces were left all over my computer; causing problems when I installed another security app. They say they can remove all kind of malware, but they can’t even properly remove their own products!
    I fixed the problem manually because I hadn’t heard of Appremover back then.
    But I do use Revo for uninstalling, excellent app. It helped me to fix a problem with a program which had a corrupted uninstaller.

  • boony

    Just a heads up.
    Your first link for Revo Uninstaller (3- Revo Uninstaller:) leads to the Appremover website, instead of (I’m guessing here) your full review of Revo.

  • Chucker

    Revo, along with a very good post-uninstall registry cleaner, has also bundled an impressive set of apps filed under “Tools”. The list includes Autorun Manager (control of pesky auto-start apps), Windows Tools (with easy access to ‘System Restore’) and Junk Files Cleaner.
    Overall, superb value!

  • Carbonize

    I find putting a big magnet near your hard drive removes all traces of the program.

  • aka Muttley

    RevoUninstaller really is the business. But can someone explain in simple terms how to use the Hunter mode and what it does?

  • Samer

    @Boony, thanks for the heads up. You’re right; I fixed the link.

    @aka Muttley: run hunter mode (from the main interface or look in the start menu its got its own shortcut). Drag the crosshairs to the open window of the program you want to kill or uninstall, release; you’ll get a bunch of options to choose from.

    @ Carbonize: want to write a post about that app removal method?

  • jfjb

    Revo beats the odds of not knowing your computer internals and activities, as well as keeping control. As long as you know what’s what but don’t worry, folks, the schoolroom is open here.

    Off topic — Looks like the Said family is growing. You’re a good father, Samer.


  • jfjb

    P.S. Where are you located, Samer? I just filled my blah-blah-blah and it clocked 1:10pm. I’m in Florida where the time is 5 something.

    • Samer

      Someone made that very joke a few months ago. Was it you?
      Except “Said” used to be capitalized then; I changed it to lowercase.

  • jfjb

    Yes, it was me. It was a statement more than a joke but, hey…
    So, your clock are off 4 hours with the (deep, deep south) east coast?
    Okay, i’m gonna save now: it’s 10:35 here. Watch!

  • jfjb

    oops, this time I’m the wrong guy, no?

  • jfjb

    no, I ain’t: 4 hours difference… stranger than fiction, and I’m a fiction writer

    • Samer

      Went into WordPress and fixed the time difference. Found this message in the settings screen “Unfortunately, you have to manually update this for Daylight Savings Time. Lame, we know, but will be fixed in the future”.

  • Gaurav

    @carbonize : LOL yup with the magnet;it will remove all traces of program including your OS and as a whole your HDD will become “Untraceble”

  • Kissol

    Since some years ago I use ZSoft Uninstaller to monitor the installations; I didn’t need never to use removal tools.

  • Wow…I tried an older version of Revo a long time ago and didn’t much care for it, but this new version is great! Hunter mode in particular is pretty sweet.

    i never thought of using special software/app to uninstall anything on my computer. maybe i shoul try this app
    free music soundtrack download

  • I would like to add very good Smarty Uninstaller Pro. I’ve been using it for quite some time, and it works great! It runs unwanted software’s original uninstaller, than scans registry, desktop and start menu for shortcuts and program’s path for undeleted files. Than you choose what you want to delete, if there’s anything left. There’s also Ashampoo Uninstaller, but I haven’t tried it yet.

  • greyowl

    I also recommend Zsoft Uninstaller. It monitors the installation process of an app and logs all the changes in the system. Then, when the app is uninstalled everything is reversed. This is also freeware.

    The new RevoUninstallerPro now does this as well, but it is the paid version.

  • Neil from Beachwood Ohio USA

    I like Revo, and it was my uninstaller of choice until I discoverd IOBit Uninstaller. Does everything Revo does, but comes in a small portable self-contained executable that does not need installation. And I prefer the way IOBit displays the files and registry entries that are candidates for deletion.

  • blue

    I second (third? fourth?) Zsoft Uninstaller. Great program, even when you don’t use it to monitor the installation. It seems to find much more than most.

  • Anonymous