Missing “Add/Remove” Menu Items

Fred, After being a long-time reader of the LangaList Standard version, I recently became a Plus member.  I greatly enjoy the newsletter, and learn something new with each issue.  You also helped me out with a tough problem I had a while ago, trying to uninstall a stubborn piece of software…

Now, I have a problem I’ve not encountered before.   My OS is XP Home, SP1.  When I uninstall software, I routinely use the Add/Remove Programs applet in Control Panel. A few days ago, I noticed that the list of installed software in Add/Remove is incomplete.  That is, only *some* of the files on my computer show up on the list.  I do not know why the list isn’t complete, nor do I know how to get the entire list to display as it once did.  I have needed to uninstall software that did not show on the list by going to Start/Programs, then selecting the program’s uninstall from there.

How can I get my Add/Remove Programs list restored? Everything else seems to be working normally. Thanks! —Karen Carter

Let’s attack this from the general to the more specific:

First, not all programs end up on the add/remove list. Some programs have their own uninstaller (although that’s becoming rarer); these programs must be uninstalled via their own "Remove" or "Uninstall" applet that may appear on the program’s own menus or may exist as a separate file in the program’s own folder.

Other simple and completely self-contained programs— ones that don’t need Registry entries, component sharing and such— may not need any formal installation or uninstallation at all. To use this kind of program, you don’t "install" it— you just run it directly. To remove this kind of program, you just delete the program’s folder and/or files, simple as that. There’s no need to "uninstall" because nothing was formally installed in the first place.

So, in and of itself, a program’s not showing up in the Add/Remove list isn’t necessarily a sign of major trouble, especially if the missing uninstall entry is something like the above. But it *would* signal trouble if a program that previously appeared on the list disappeared; or if you installed a large, complex program that you *know* should show up in the Add/Remove list (say, something like Word or Excel); and it doesn’t.

This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.

Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.

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.