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General Tips and Tricks for deleting objects and programs

Always Back up your data before doing any maintenance

Barrettism: Deleting is not easy, but must be done and done correctly.

This page will teach you how to delete programs, icons, menu items, files, folders and other objects in Windows. It will tell you the correct and incorrect way to delete. It will cover a variety of ways to accomplish the same job. It will cover using the uninstall feature in Windows and other programs.

Is your Desktop a mess? Is your hard drive full? Do you get crashes frequently or just irritating error messages? Has your computer slowed down? Like some help? Read On.......

Before doing any of the suggestions on this page, do a cleanup first. Click here for instructions.

Lets review a few concepts first. There is a Delete key (Del) on the keyboard in the group of 6 keys between the main keyboard and the number pad. All 10 keys in this area are called the cursor movement keys. There is also a Del key as a secondary function on the number pad that only works if the Num Lock is toggled Off. Common keyboard use today is to leave the Number pad active and use the cursor control function keys directly.

Deleting can be done by any one of these methods: touching the Del key, clicking a Delete icon if available (Often has a crossed X as the picture), using the keyboard shortcut. When I say touch delete, it can refer to any method.

Anytime something is highlighted, Delete will trash the highlighted object, so be careful what you click on.

Watch what you click on. It might disappear.
Watch what you Drag. It will disappear

Deleting Icons

Icons fall into two types. Shortcut icons and Object icons. Shortcut icons just lead you to a program or file. Deleting these does not delete the object. Shortcut icons are identified by a small arrow in the lower left corner. (There are programs that offer to modify these icons to remove the arrow. Do Not Do This)

Object icons are the actual object. If you delete this type of icon, you delete the actual object. In most cases, it goes to the recycle bin and you can recover from a mistake, but not always. I'll describe times when the recycle bin is automatically bypassed or is done by choice.

To delete an Icon on the desktop (or anywhere for that matter), just highlight it and touch delete. An alternate method is to drag & drop the icon into the Recycle bin. I do not recommend dragging in most cases. It is too easy to drop it in a wrong place. See the Barrettism above.

Deleting Menu Items

The Start Menu is completely customizable. All entries are shortcuts (no arrow). The start menu is represented by a folder in the hard drive that contains the shortcuts. We will discuss this in a later paragraph.

This is where there is a big separation between Windows versions. Windows 1st version in the 3x series had no start menu, so this discussion does not apply to it. (Is anyone still running it?). Windows 95 was the first version to include the start menu, but you could not modify it directly. You had to use the Windows Explorer program to make changes. This was a real protection that kept the user from really messing up the menu as you will see can be done in 98/Me.

Windows 98 modified the start menu to allow revising the menu directly by dragging and right clicking, as many of you have already found out the hard way. You can rename, drag and delete menu items with the flick of the mouse. (See Barrettism above) Windows Me still allows this. You can turn off the feature in Me, but not in 98. To turn it off, click Start, Settings, Task Bar and Start Menu. In the dialog box, click the Advanced tab. Scroll down and look at the options. The item that says Enable Dragging And Dropping is checked by default. If you don't want it, uncheck the box. Same with any other options you want changed. See left figure below. The figure on the right represents the new XP taskbar properties. Note it looks very different. Play with the settings. Note the new "Lock the Taskbar" feature. This stops the dragging and resizing. It is on by default. Nice job Microsoft.

With the option checked, you can just right click on any menu item and choose Delete. With the item unchecked, you must use the same procedure described below for Windows 95.

In Windows 95, Right click on Start and choose "Explore". This opens the Windows Explorer at the Start menu level. Click the + box to the left of Programs to see the entire menu. Selecting any item allows you to Delete it.

Deleting Files and Folders

Any file or folder that is highlighted can be deleted. Deleting a folder also deletes all it's contents. Obviously caution is in order here.

Deleting Programs

There are many ways to delete programs. If you want to delete a program, the first thing to check is the listing in the Start, Programs menu. Many programs include a link to Uninstall their program.

If you don't find it there, go to the Control Panel and select Add/Remove Programs. Select the program from the list and click Add/Remove button.

If the program is not in the list, you will need to try some other methods. If you have the original disks, try installing the program again over the top of the existing one and see if it places a listing in the control panel Add/Remove list.

If this doesn't work, you may need to use a third party Uninstaller program.

When uninstalling from the Add/Remove dialog box, there are some cautions. You may get a box saying that a file is a shared file and ask if you want to delete it or keep it. If the file can be identified as belonging only to the program you are removing, then delete it. If not, keep it. Look at the name of the file and the path. For example, if you are removing Ace Games and the file in question is C:\Program Files\Ace Games\abc.dll, you know it is only related to Ace Games since it is in the Ace folder. OK to delete. On the other hand if the file says C:\Windows\abc.dll, you have no idea if it may be a shared file with another program. Leave it.

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