Windows Management and Maintenance : The Windows 7 Control Panel (part 10) - Programs and Features

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13. Programs and Features

Programs and Features performs most of the same tasks for Windows 7 that the Add or Remove Programs applet performed for Windows XP. However, there is no provision for installing programs with Programs and Features. Because this feature was hardly used in Add or Remove Programs, its absence in Programs and Features is no great loss. The major functions of Programs and Features include

  • Changing or uninstalling existing programs

  • Viewing installed updates

  • Enabling or disabling Windows features

Programs and Features is available from the Programs category of Control Panel and is also available in Large or Small Icons view.

Uninstall or Change a Program

You may occasionally have programs on your system that don’t show up in the Uninstall or Change a Program listing you see when you open Programs and Features (see Figure 25). Only programs that comply with the 32- or 64-bit Windows API standards for installation have their filenames and locations recorded in the system database, allowing them to be reliably removed without adversely affecting the operation of Windows. Many older or less-sophisticated applications simply install in their own way and don’t bother registering with the operating system. These programs, which are increasingly rare today, must be removed manually.

Figure 25. The main window of the Programs and Features applet lists programs that can be uninstalled or changed.


Never attempt to remove an application from your system by deleting its files from the \Program Files folders (or wherever). Actually, “never” may be too strong. Removal through manual deletion should only be done as a last resort. Always attempt to use the Programs and Features applet or the uninstall utility from the application first. Contact the vendor for help if you cannot uninstall the application. In a few cases, it might be necessary to go into the system Registry to remove pieces of an application.

What’s more, the built-in uninstaller lets you make changes to applications, such as adding or removing suboptions (assuming the application supports that feature).

Use of the uninstall feature of the applet is simple:

Open the Programs category, then Programs and Features applet from the Control Panel.

Check the list of installed applications. A typical list is shown in Figure 25. To sort applications by criteria such as size or date of installation, click the appropriate column head. You can use this information to find space-hogging programs you don’t use.

Select the program you want to change or uninstall.

Click the Uninstall or Change button above the program listing. Note that program listings marked as (Remove Only) don’t offer Change as an option.

Answer any warnings about removing an application as appropriate.


Obviously, removing an application can’t easily be reversed by, say, restoring files from the Recycle Bin, because shortcuts on the Start menu and Registry settings are also deleted.

At the end of the process, the selected program is removed from your system and from the list of installed applications. Depending on the program you uninstalled, you may need to restart your system.

Some applications (for example, Microsoft Office) prompt you to insert the program CD when you attempt to change or remove the app. These prompts can be annoying, but what can you do? The setup, change, and uninstall programs for some large suites are stored on their CDs, not on your hard disk. So, just insert the disc when prompted.


Incidentally, Add or Remove Programs can be run only by users with Administrator credentials on their local computer. Although some applications can be installed or removed by nonadministrators, most do require Administrator privileges.

View Installed Updates

To see updates for Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Office applications, and other applications that receive updates through Windows Update, click View Installed Updates in the Tasks list of Programs and Features. All installed program (but not driver) updates are shown. Figure 26 shows a typical listing.

Figure 26. Viewing updates for Microsoft Windows 7.

If you determine that an installed update is not working correctly, select it and click Uninstall. (Note that some updates cannot be uninstalled.)


To view updates for separate programs bundled with Windows 7, such as Windows Defender and Windows Media Player, or hardware driver updates, open the Windows Update icon in the Control Panel’s Large Icons or Small Icons view.

Turn Windows Features On or Off

In addition to managing add-on products and applications through the Programs and Features applet, you can also enable and disable Windows 7 features. Click the link in the Programs and Features Tasks list to open the Windows Features dialog box, shown in Figure 27.

Figure 27. Preparing to configure Windows features.

Generally, you should need to add features only if you are configuring Windows 7 for specialized situations. For example, if you need to manage a remote client with Telnet, you should add the Telnet client. To learn more about a feature, hover your mouse over the feature to see a brief explanation.

An empty check box indicates that the feature is turned off. A check mark in a box indicates that the feature is turned on. Shaded boxes indicate that only some features are turned on. For example, note that the only active parts of Print and Document Services on this system are the Internet Printing Client and Windows Fax and Scan.


Enabling or disabling a feature doesn’t change the size of your Windows 7 installation; it merely changes whether you can use the feature.

To enable a feature, click an empty check box. To disable a feature, clear a check box. Click OK when you are finished.

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