How to remove software leftovers on Windows 10 [COMPLETE GUIDE]

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Managing Editor
Loading Comments
Download PDF
Affiliate Disclosure

remove software leftovers

It’s a common practice for all computer users to install software programs regularly. As you know, whenever you install a piece of software, it creates files on the hard drive and usually adds registry entries to work efficiently. It’s perfectly fine as long as you are using the program and don’t forget about it.

Now, the problem comes when you opt to uninstall it, because the program might not completely remove itself from your PC. That’s where software leftovers come into play.

To remove a program in Windows, we normally uninstall it from the Control Panel. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always completely remove it. As a result, your system continues to have unused files that take up space.

Entries for the old programs can also remain in the Registry, which slow down the performance of your machine. These leftovers may not pose a major threat. But they tend to slow down your PC so there is no point in keeping them.

Various methods can help you get rid of these leftovers. In this guide, we are going to discuss two of the most commonly used methods for completely removing the software leftovers.

How can I completely remove programs on Windows 10?


1. Manually remove the software leftovers

This method is convenient as it doesn’t involve installations of third-party applications. It is the method you can use to manually clean entries from the Registry.

Nonetheless, care should be taken when cleaning entries from the Registry. A small mistake here might adversely affect the functioning of your machine. We are going to use Mozilla as an example in this tutorial.

Note: It’s important to do a backup before deleting anything from the Windows registry so that if something goes wrong, you can restore the system to its earlier state. To do a backup, right-click on the key you want to delete and select ‘Export’. It will save a REG file with the backup of that key.

Step 1: Uninstall the software using Control Panel

To do this, open the Control Panel, double-click on the Add/Remove programs, choose the program you want to uninstall and click on the Uninstall button. This will remove the program.

uninstall software remove software leftovers


You can’t open Control Panel on Windows 10? Take a look at this step-by-step guide to find a solution.


Step 2: Delete the remaining files and folders

Even though you have successfully uninstalled the program, some fragments of the file may be left in a few of the system folders. To remove them, you’ll need to check the program files and app data. Check the following folders for leftovers.

  • %programfiles%
  • %appdata%

Just type the above text one at a time in the search box and press enter. This will open the folders directly. If you find any folder with the name of the program you just uninstalled, delete it.

appdata roaming delete remove software leftovers


Problems deleting all your junk files? Follow this Disk Cleanup guide and save your drive.


Step 3: Remove software keys from the Windows Registry

You will need to be very careful when performing this procedure. When you uninstall a software program, in most cases, the uninstaller does not remove the program from the Windows Registry.

This increases the Windows Registry size. To completely remove the software, you need to remove its key from the Windows Registry. Follow the steps below to remove the program keys.

  1. Open the Start menu, type regedit in the search box and press ENTER. It will launch the Registry Editor.
  2. Type the following keys one by one:
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftware
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWARE
    • HKEY_USERS.DEFAULTSoftware
  3. Look for a key with the name of the program you just removed. If you find a key, delete it. You can also use CTRL+F to search for such keys.registry editor remove software leftovers

Can’t access Registry Editor? Things aren’t as scary as they seem. Check out this guide and solve the issue quickly.


Step 4: Empty Temp Folder

The final step is to clean the Temp folder. This is the folder that contains all the temporary files and cleaning it is safe. To empty the folder, open the Start menu and type the following commands one by one:

  • %temp%
  • temp

This will open the Temp folders. You can now empty them. If the system displays an error message when deleting some files, leave them. The files might be in use by Windows services or some running software.

how to uninstall software leftovers temp files

After following all the steps above, you will be able to completely uninstall a program without leaving a trace on your machine.


Can’t delete the temporary files? We’ve got the best solutions.


2. Use Third-party Software to remove software leftovers

The manual method described above may be tricky and difficult especially if you have never used the Registry Editor in the past.

If that’s the case, you can always install third-party software to completely remove all the remnants of old software with just one system scan.

Many free and paid uninstaller programs can get the job done instantly. Below you will find just a few of them.

IObit Uninstaller Free (recommended)

IOBit Uninstaller remove software leftovers

IObit Uninstaller is a fast cleaner for your computer that works without any unwanted programs, Windows apps and plug-ins. It provides a simplified uninstall and auto leftover scan to ensure thorough removal.

Below you can read the most important features of this software:

  • IObit Uninstaller Free removes unwanted programs to free up disk space and boost the PC’s overall performance.
  • This software detects all malicious programs including adware in real time, and it allows you to get rid of them easily.
  • Automatically removes all remnants of programs.
  • You can count on IObit Uninstaller Free even for the leftover file that cannot be deleted by other uninstallers.

You can get the software for free, and it’s good to know that it’s compatible with all versions of Windows.


Revo Uninstaller Pro (recommended)

revo uninstaller pro how to remove software leftovers

Revo Uninstaller Pro is a paid program but it comes with all the features you need to effectively remove software leftovers. The Uninstaller tool lists all the installed programs and components for all users and current accounts.

With a context menu and a choice of view, you can see all the program information. This includes registry entries, program properties, and links to the manufacturer’s website.

Revo Uninstaller Pro uses advanced algorithms that are fast, precise, and effective in searching for leftovers of Windows services, file extensions, drivers, program settings, and more. And for your convenience, a portable version is available.


Absolute Uninstaller (Freeware)

absolute uninstaller remove software leftovers

Absolute Uninstaller is an enhanced tool for Windows that you can use to remove all the software leftovers. Consequently, the program can wipe off all the junk files in seconds after uninstalling the software.

Absolute Uninstaller offers a more user-friendly way to remove software leftovers and improve your computer efficiency. What’s more, Absolute Uninstaller supports batch uninstall. This means you can even remove multiple applications in just a single click.

It also allows you to make backups so you will never lose important programs in case of mistakes.

GlarySoft also has a very useful Registry repair tool to scan computers, clean registry junks and fix registry errors.

It performs comprehensive and deep analysis for Windows Registry. It also repairs invalid entries or references that cause computer freezing, system crashes, instability, blue screen, and PC slowdowns.


GeekUninstaller (Free version)

geekuninstaller remove software leftovers

GeekUninstaller takes care of stubborn programs very well and can even uninstall programs that other programs can’t. Since the tool is portable, you can download it on a USB to help fix buggy PC’s on the go.

The tool performs deep scanning and removes all the junk files and other software leftovers. It also features an efficient user interface and instant startup. GeekUninstaller offers both clean uninstall and forced uninstall.

You can download GeekUninstaller from the tool’s official page. A free version is available for personal use. On the other hand, the Geek Uninstaller Pro version can be purchased at $24.95-lifetime license.

Conclusion

Compared to the manual methods, third-party programs are easier, faster, and safer to use. They also come with a friendly interface. This allows you to see even the registry entries as well as the link to the manufacturer’s website.

They also come in handy when you want to uninstall windows programs in bulk.

Have you used any of the methods described above? Let us hear your experiences in the comments section below. Also, leave there any questions you may have and we’ll surely take a look.

FAQ

How do I remove registry entries from uninstalled programs?

Use a third-party uninstaller from the list above to remove leftovers, including registry entries left behind by programs. If you’re concerned about the registry, you can also use these tools to monitor changes in the Windows registry (before installing and after uninstalling a program).

How do you delete registry keys that cannot be deleted?

Check out our fixes for errors while deleting registry keys.

Where are my leftover files after uninstall?

If you uninstalled a tool from Add/Remove Programs or Apps & Features in Windows, the leftover files might be in the installation path, Documents, or AppData folders. To auto-delete leftovers, use the best uninstaller software instead of uninstalling the tool from Windows.

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated in March 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Was this page helpful?
Thanks for letting us know! You can also help us by leaving a review on MyWOT or Trustpillot.
Get the most from your tech with our daily tips
Tell us why!