9 ways to remove desktop programs and modern apps in Windows

From time to time, we stumble upon applications that are hard to remove or delete, as some less knowledgeable users would say. Sometimes their Add/Remove Programs entry is deleted for whatever reason, or they don't have a handy Uninstall shortcut available. The problems vary from case to case. That's why we decided to make a roundup of all the methods that can be used to remove both desktop programs and modern apps, in Windows. Let's get started:

NOTE: This guide applies to Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

1. Uninstall desktop apps from the Command Prompt (cmd.exe)

We will start with a geeky way of removing apps from Windows. First, start the Command Prompt as administrator. In the Command Prompt window, type wmic and press Enter.

This command loads the Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line (WMIC) tool. Now you need to see which apps are identified by WMIC so that you can remove them from the Command Prompt. To do that, type the command "product get name" without the quotation marks and press Enter. The command lists all the desktop apps that can be removed with this method.

As you will see for yourself, the list of apps shown is a lot smaller than the total number of desktop apps that you have installed. If the app that you want to remove is shown here, continue and enter the command: product where name="name of program" call uninstall. Replace the string name of the program with the actual name of the desktop app that you want to remove, as shown in the list that was loaded previously in the Command Prompt. For example, we typed product where name="Adobe Refresh Manager" call uninstall.

You are prompted to confirm that you want to uninstall the program. Type y if you want to remove it or n, if you have changed your mind.

If the uninstallation is performed successfully, you see a ReturnValue=0 and a message saying "Method execution successful."

Of all the methods in this guide, this one is the most complex and least useful. We introduced it because a surprising number of people search for it. However, if you want more efficient methods, continue reading this guide.

2. Uninstall desktop applications from the Control Panel

This is the method most people know about. It works great for all desktop applications, but it cannot be used for modern apps that are distributed through the Windows Store in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

First, open the Control Panel. Then go to "Programs -> Programs and Features."

Select the desktop app that you want to remove, click or tap Uninstall and follow the wizard.

Please remember that the steps involved in removing a program are different from program to program.

3. Uninstall desktop programs using their Uninstall shortcuts

Some desktop applications, when installed, create a Uninstall shortcut. Usually, it is found in the application's folder from the Start Menu (in Windows 7 and Windows 10) or the Apps View (in Windows 8.1). Below you can see the Uninstall shortcut for Dropbox, in Windows 8.1.

Here is the Uninstall shortcut for qBittorrent, in Windows 10.

Click or tap the Uninstall shortcut to start the uninstallation wizard for the selected application.

4. Uninstall desktop apps using their Uninstall.exe

Many desktop apps (especially those which create Uninstall shortcuts) have an executable file named uninstall.exe or something along these lines. This file is always found in the installation folder of that application. You can see below the uninstall.exe file for the VLC Player.

Run it and follow the steps required to uninstall the program.

5. Uninstall desktop apps using their setup MSI file

Some programs (like the 64-bit version of 7-Zip) do not use a setup.exe file for their installation. Instead, their setup file has the extension ".msi." This format is used by the Windows Installer, a special installation format created by Microsoft for its Windows operating systems. The desktop applications that use a ".msi" installer are easy to uninstall. You right click or press and hold on their setup file and click or tap Uninstall.

The removal can also be triggered from the command line. Open the Command Prompt as administrator and type "msiexec /x " followed by the name of the ".msi" file used by the program you want to remove.

You can also add other command line parameters to control the way the uninstall is done. For more information, check this documentation from Microsoft: Msiexec (command-line options).

If you are interested in how to remove modern apps from Windows, which are distributed using the Windows Store, read the second page in this guide.