Properly Uninstall Problem Apps By Deleting Preferences And Saved Settings

Upon removal, a good program will give you the option to clear old settings, be they in a folder or the registry. This lets you get rid of every last remnant to calm your OCD, or troubleshoot issues caused by preferences from older versions. When you aren't given the ability to do this easily, you'll have to do some investigating yourself.

Recently I started experiencing a problem where VLC would crash if I let it run to the end of a video. It didn't matter what the codec was, or the container format, if I didn't hit pause or switch to another clip, I'd have no choice but to kill the VLC process via task manager.

I tried rolling back to an older version and reinstalling the current version to no avail. What I didn't do was clear the old settings and preferences because, well, it takes time to get a program set up the way you want it and I'd never had trouble in the past.

Of course, after exhausting all other avenues I reinstalled VLC 2.1.5, but this time made sure to check the box to delete my preferences and bang, the issue was gone.

Unfortunately, not all programs provide an easy way to purge lingering user files and you might be left to dig them out yourself. Here are some tips if you do find yourself in this situation:

  • The usual ports of call are the "My Documents" directory and "Users\[Username]\AppData". You'll still need to track down the precise folder of the troublesome program, but it almost always boils down to looking for a path containing the application or developer's name.
  • If this turns out to be a false lead, you can dive into the registry, specifically the Software keys under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and HKEY_CURRENT_USER. Like the AppData folder, spotting the app / developer name will usually uncover any lingering settings.
  • If you still can't find anything, you'll have to engage the services of Process Monitor, which will show you exactly what parts of your system running applications are accessing. With the right filters in place, it won't take long to find the app's settings folder and registry location, which you can then get rid of with a few taps of the Delete key.

The usual disclaimers applies -- tinkering with the inner workings of your operating system can lead to sadness (usually in the form of blue-screens and boot problems), so be sure you know what you're deleting and why!


    Use "Revo Uninstaller" to both install, and uninstall programs... It's free and it works..!

    Oh man... That's what you get for using VLC!

    If you want top quality playback with minimal hassle and no bs issues install KCP.

    This also has A LOT of great tweaking that you can do, but you can leave the configuring to the installer if you don't know what you're doing.

    Last edited 31/08/14 5:00 pm

      Is that just a codec pack or a player? I switched to VLC from Media Player Classic + codecs (usually K-lite or CCCP) years ago now and it's been fantastic, way less trouble than I ever had with MPC.

        Yes, it's similar sort of thing to them, but it's kept more up to date and has all of the proper settings preconfigured to make sure you should have no issues. It also uses MadVR and Xy subtitle filter which have fixed issues with things like 10bit video and miscoloured text in the past (a couple of years back when I switched) for me. But it looks like the those other guys might be starting to adopt these too... So really I would just look at these guys as being 3 steps ahead of the rest of game. This is also run by the anime fansubbing community who notoriously strive for elitism. ;)

        Last edited 31/08/14 11:14 pm

    Double post. Gizmodo'ing after seedy Sunday session!

    Last edited 31/08/14 6:51 pm

    Whenever someone sees that I use VLC they suggest I download codecs and media player classic and this and that and oh god. That's why I started using VLC in the first place, so I wouldn't HAVE to deal with codecs! Never had a problem with VLC since (most) people standardised their releases a few years ago with the glorious h264 revolution.

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