Removing Invalid Entries in the Add/Remove Programs Tool


To add, remove, or change a program on a Windows 2000-based computer, use the Add/Remove Programs tool in Control Panel. Occasionally, a program may not be uninstalled completely and a reference to the program may remain in the Currently installed programs dialog box. Changing or removing a program may result in a number of messages about files that cannot be located, but are needed to complete the change or uninstallation. This article describes how to remove these invalid entries from the Add/Remove Programs tool.

For information about how to edit the registry, view the "Changing Keys and Values" Help topic in Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) or the "Add and Delete Information in the Registry" and "Edit Registry Data" Help topics in Regedt32.exe. Note that you should back up the registry before you edit it. If you are running Windows NT or Windows 2000, you should also update your Emergency Repair Disk (ERD).

Removing Invalid Entries in the Add/Remove Programs Tool

The following steps remove only the registry entries related to a program as it appears in the Add/Remove Programs tool. To completely uninstall a program that was not completely removed by clicking the Change/Remove button in the Add/Remove Programs tool, you need to clean up the physical directory structure on disk and in the registry also. Use extreme caution when you perform either of these tasks.

  • Start Registry Editor (Regedit.exe).
  • Locate the following key:


  • Locate the key to be deleted by locating the key name created by the program. If the name of the key is not apparent, browse through each key and note the value for DisplayName. This is the viewable string in the Add/Remove Programs tool.
  • Using the Registry menu, export the selected registry key to make a backup. Store the .reg file in a safe location in case you need to import it at a later date.
  • Delete the selected registry key and its values. Do not delete the entire Uninstall key.
  • Quit Registry Editor.
  • Verify that the reference in the Add/Remove Programs tool is no longer visible.

You may have to contact the manufacturer of the program you want to remove if you need to clean up the disk and registry entries. The above procedure does not remove all the files and registry entries used by the program, it removes only the reference in the Add/Remove Programs tool.