How to add or remove (un)wanted Windows features, programs or apps

Each edition of Windows comes with a predefined set of programs, features and apps installed. You can customize Windows by removing the features that you don't need and by adding those which you do need, but are not installed by default. And if you remove unwanted features, programs or apps, you can save quite a bit of space on your hard disk. This tutorial will show in detail, how to add or remove Windows features in Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. There’s quite a bit of ground to cover so let’s get started:

All the required changes are done from a window named Windows Features. First, let’s see how to open it in Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

How to open the Windows Features window in Windows 7

The Windows Features window can be opened only from Add Remove Programs (also named Programs and Features). The easiest way is to search for the words "add remove" in the Start Menu search field and click "Add or remove programs".

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You can also open the Control Panel and click the "Uninstall a program" link, found in the Programs section.

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In the Programs and Features window, there is a link on the left-side column which says "Turn Windows features on or off". Click on it.

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The Windows Features window is now opened.

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How to open the Windows Features window in Windows 8.1

In Windows 8.1, go to the Start screen and search for the words “add remove”. Click or tap "Add or remove programs" in the list of search results.

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Alternatively, you can open the Control Panel and click or tap on the "Uninstall a program" link, found in the Programs section. Then, click or tap on "Turn Windows features on or off" and the Windows Features window will open.

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How to open the Windows Features window in Windows 10

In Windows 10, click or tap inside the search box on the taskbar and type the words “windows features. In the list of search results, click or tap “Turn Windows features on or off.

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The Windows Features window is now opened.

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Alternatively, you can open the Control Panel and click or tap the "Uninstall a program" link, found in the Programs section. Then, click or tap "Turn Windows features on or off" and the Windows Features window will be opened.

How to remove Windows features and programs

The Windows Features window lists all the Windows features, programs and apps available for your specific version of Windows. The checked entries are installed and available on your computer or device. To view more information about an entry and what it does, simply hold the mouse on top of it for a while, without clicking.

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To remove a Windows feature or program, uncheck it from the list. You can uncheck multiple entries at once. Then, click or tap OK.

When unchecking some features (not all), Windows warns you that turning them off will affect other Windows features, programs or default settings. To learn more, don't hesitate to click or tap the "Go online to learn more" link found on the bottom of the warning. If you are OK with the consequences of your choice, press Yes. Otherwise, press No and the removal process won't continue. Then, press OK one more time in the Windows Features window.

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Windows takes a while to make the requested changes. Some features may be removed without requiring a system restart. If that is the case for the features that you have selected, you are informed that Windows has completed the requested changes. Press Close and you are done.

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After removing some features, Windows may inform you that it needs to restart your computer to apply the requested changes. Press Restart Now and wait for the restart to be performed. Please note that the restart will take longer than usual, because Windows needs to spend additional time to configure itself according to your instructions.

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How to add Windows features and programs

Adding features to Windows involves the same steps as removing them. The only difference is that you check items instead of unchecking them.

During the installation process, depending on what you selected for installation, Windows might request your permission to download some files from Windows Update. Allow it to do so, in order for the installation to complete successfully. For example, this happens when you want to install .NET Framework 3.5 on Windows 10 and Windows 8.1.

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At times, it can even ask for the Windows installation disc. Insert it into your DVD/Blu-Ray drive and allow it to copy the files it requires from the disc. Also, depending on what programs and features you installed, you might be asked to restart your computer, in order for the installation to finish successfully.

What's different in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 compared to Windows 7 when removing Windows features?

The procedures involved are the same in Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and in Windows 7. It's just that in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, most dialogue windows are bigger than in Windows 7. Also, they are not transparent. You can see below an example:

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The questions, decisions and options available are the same in all three operating systems.

Do you save disk space by removing Windows features and programs?

I was really curious to learn if, after removing Windows features and programs, Windows occupies less space on disk. If you are running out of space, is it worth removing some Windows features and programs you don't use? It turns out that the answer is Yes.

I made some quick measurements on my Windows 7 computer: the "C:" drive where Windows 7 is installed, had 49.8GB occupied space and 3.49GB free space. The Windows folder used 24.8GB, Program Files used 2.94GB while Program Files(x86) used 4.49GB.

I do not use Windows features such as: Internet games, More games, Windows DVD Maker, Windows Media Center, Windows Fax and Scan and the Windows Gadget Platform. Therefore I decided to remove them.

After the removal process,  my "C:" drive had 49.5GB occupied space and 3.80GB free space. The Windows folder used 24.7GB, Program Files used 2.81GB while Program Files(x86) used 4.48GB. In total, the main folders used by Windows required approximately 0.24GB (245MB) less space. It is a decent space saving when free disk space is a real problem.

Conclusion

As you can see from this tutorial, adding or removing features in Windows is relatively easy. If you have issues with any of the steps described in this guide, don’t hesitate to share them using the comments form below. For more useful tips, don't hesitate to read the articles we recommend below.

About the Author: Ciprian Adrian Rusen
I love technology and I work in IT for more than a decade. I am the co-founder of Digital Citizen and its chief editor. Alongside my work as an editor, I am also an author. I have written and published 7 books, most of them about Microsoft products and technologies. They are translated into more than 12 languages. In 2014, I have been recognized by Microsoft for my technical expertise and involvement in the community with the title of Microsoft MVP - Windows Consumer Expert.