Why does my app’s uninstaller disappear from the Start menu?

Raymond Chen

Raymond

A customer reported that their installer creates a shortcut on the Start menu called Uninstall Contoso Deluxe, but a few seconds after their installer completes, the Uninstall Contoso Deluxe icon disappears from the Start menu. The main Contoso Deluxe shortcut is still there. What’s going on?

The uninstaller shortcut is removed from the Start menu to reduce clutter. You can uninstall apps from the Apps page in Settings, or from the Programs and Features control panel (formerly known as Add or Remove Programs). You can also get to the uninstaller by right-clicking Contoso Deluxe and selecting Uninstall.

Adding an uninstaller icon to Start menu is triply redundant, and it puts uninstallers in a high-traffic area of the user interface, when users are mostly looking for apps to run, not apps to uninstall.

The uninstaller shortcut is still there, so your uninstaller won’t get confused when it tries to delete the uninstaller shortcut. But the Start menu doesn’t show it.

Raymond Chen
Raymond Chen

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19 comments

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  • Avatar
    Ian Boyd

    It’s quite annoying when I type “Uninstall” in the start menu, and every program’s uninstaller appears.
     
    No! If I wanted to remove your app I’d go to the appropriate spot.
     
    Just as bad are apps that insist on adding a shortcut on the desktop.
     
    There are even installers that offer to add an icon to the Quick Launch – when the Quick Launch hasn’t existed since 2007. And they shouldn’t have been adding them in the first place.
     
    Microsoft needs a way to quarantine desktop icons added by installers.

      • Avatar
        David Walker

        I have a “Quick-launch-like” toolbar in Windows 10 (which I also had in Windows 7).  It’s just a toolbar pointing to a folder that I created, and the folder contains shortcuts, and only the icons are displayed on the taskbar.
        I didn’t know that the original, official, Windows-supplied Quick Launch “still exists” in Windows 10.  It’s not available as a choice to enable, under “Toolbars”… You say it’s “hidden by default”.  What did you do to make Quick Launch visible again?

    • Avatar
      Antonio Rodríguez

      The idea was obsoleted by Windows 95. Back in the days of Windows 3.x, there was no Add/Remove Programs applet in the Control Panel, so applications had to offer the uninstall program as an icon in the Program Manager group. Windows 95 introduced the Add/Remove Programs applet, and IIRC Microsoft guidelines recommended *against* creating uninstall icons in the Start Menu group because they could be confusing (how many newbie users would end uninstalling the very application they intended to launch?). 24 years later we are still speaking about this, which in itself sheds a lot of light on how much some developers care for Microsoft guidelines.

      • Avatar
        cheong00

        That said we do still have a few well known software that you cannot uninstall at that Add/Remove Programs applet.
        Say Eclipse and Sybase, just to name 2 that I just verified.

      • Avatar
        Murray

        The add/remove programs applet, if you don’t recall, was absolutely terrible and almost completely unusable until Vista; which is probably why so many programs continued to create uninstall start menu icons at the time.

  • W S
    W S

    My only gripe with this is that choosing Uninstall in the context menu does not try to pre-select said program in the list of things to uninstall.
     
    To make this a sure thing Microsoft could let programs define the name of their uninstall key in their manifest, or add a AppUserModelID value to the uninstall entry.
     

  • Avatar
    Archi Goodwin

    Why Visual Studio Installer is not affected by this behaviour?
    PS.How do I re-sort the comments? Now latest coments are on the top.

    • Avatar
      Vince Valenti

      I would guess because it doesn’t have ‘uninstall’ in the name. Also the VS Installer does get used much more than the typical uninstaller for adding workflows, optional components, and updating. I use it pretty frequently.

    • Avatar
      Ivan Kljajic

      My haha thought too, but it’s more of a fat “install manager”, so haha good (in my opinion). I only wish Qt’s start menu (or maybe search..  same thing) equivalent wasn’t so shy and didn’t default to the “remove all” radio option instead of upgrade / update.

  • Avatar
    Langbein, Thilo

    I don’t want Microsoft to take care of my start menu!!!f a installer makes an uninstall entry I want to see this. MS isn’t smarter than me. Thanks for trying AI.

    • W S
      W S

      The recommendation for a very long time has been “Don’t put shortcuts to the following items on the Start screen: Uninstallers, Help, Settings, Homepage, Wizards.” “Don’t create shortcuts to features or functionality that can be launched from within the app itself.”In Vista this became more important because of Start Menu search. In Windows 8 it became critical to reduce clutter on the Start Screen.

    • Avatar
      Ralf Berkvens

      MS isn’t trying to be smarter than YOU. It’s trying to be smarter (and succeeding) than the devs who think that they need to clutter the start menu with uninstall options which can be foound in three other places.

  • Henrik Andersson
    Henrik Andersson

    So I wasn’t the only one who thought “this seems like an useability hazard”. I mean seriously, this is as bad as the nuke the world button in Monsters vs Ailiens.

  • Avatar
    Kalle Niemitalo

    Two folders in my Start Menu contain shortcuts titled only “Uninstall” (the file names are “Uninstall.lnk”, no localization tricks), and Windows 10 Pro Build 17763.rs5_release.180914-1434 isn’t hiding them. It does hide shortcuts in which “Uninstall” is followed by some other words, however.
    I don’t really care whether the shortcuts appear but I’m curious why it was implemented this way.

  • Charles Milette
    Charles Milette

    It’s a bit annoying when a Cortana search shows the uninstaller as first result when searching the program’s name though.