Killing “Add/Remove” Ghost Entries

Have you ever uninstalled a program only to find it still listed under Control Panel’s "Add/Remove Software" list? That ghost entry in "add/Remove" is an annoyance, and impossible to delete by normal means: If you click it, and select Uninstall, you simply get an error message.

Reader Edgar Sanchez, who runs in Chicago, offers this simple way to rid your Add/Remove menu of such ghosts:

Use Registry Editor (Regedit) to delete the registry key that contains the name of your program in the following registry key:


Under this key, there are number of sub-keys, each representing an installed program. To determine which program each sub-key represents, open it and find the following values:
DisplayName – The value data for DisplayName is the name listed in the Add/Remove Programs tool.
UninstallString – The value data for UninstallString is the program used to uninstall the program.

Thanks, Edgar! Note that this method does not uninstall a program— it just removes the Add/Remove entry for a given program. Thus, this is not a substitute for using normal uninstall methods: You should still uninstall programs the normal way, whether through Control Panel, or through a program’s own uninstall routine. But if that normal uninstall leaves a ghost in your Add/Remove menu, well, Edgar’s now made you a ghost buster. 8-)

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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.