Uninstall Windows XP Components Not Listed in Add/Remove Programs

This tutorial will show you how to uninstall programs that aren’t listed in the Add/Remove Windows Components section of the Control Panel in Windows XP.

Please note: This guide explains how to remove items in Windows XP. If you’re looking for help removing apps, games or components in newer versions of Windows, see this guide for help uninstalling things in Windows Vista, and this guide for help uninstalling things from Windows 7, 8 and 10.

  1. Some programs (Windows Messenger, WordPad, Pinball to name a few) are “hidden” from the Add or Remove Programs and/or Add/Remove Windows Components lists, making them difficult to uninstall. This tutorial will show you how to uninstall them – using Windows Messenger as the example.
  2. Start out by selecting the Add/Remove Windows Components section of Add or Remove Programs (in the Control Panel).
  3. the Windows XP Add/Remove Programs Panel with an arrow pointing at the Add/Remove Windows Components icon
    click to enlarge

  4. You’ll notice that Windows Messenger is listed, but if you read the fine print, when you opt to remove it it’s only actually removing the entry from the Start menu. Which is hardly useful. To really remove Windows Messenger (and other programs not listed) keep reading.
  5. the Windows Components wizard
    click to enlarge

  6. Navigate to the folder C:\windows\inf. If you don’t see the inf folder, you’ll need to enable displaying hidden files and folders. To do so, follow steps 2 and 3 in this tutorial. Once you can view that folder, open it and then open the file sysoc.inf in a text editor like Notepad.
  7. a Windows XP Explorer window with a list of inf files displayed

  8. This is the ‘heart’ of this tutorial. Any item that has the word hide in it, isn’t displayed in the Add/Remove Windows Components section. Locate the line that starts with msmsgs. In that line, locate the word hide, and remove it. Also, make sure to remove the comma (,) after it. The new line should read:

    msmsgs=msgrocm.dll,OcEntry,msmsgs.inf,7

  9. the sysoc.inf file open in Notepad.exe
    click to enlarge

  10. Now open the Add/Remove Windows Components section of Add or Remove Programs. You’ll see that “another” Windows Messenger entry now appears – this one allows you to actually remove the entire program, not just its Start menu entry. Place a check in the box next to it, and click the Next button to remove it.
  11. uninstall hidden Windows XP Components
    click to enlarge

  12. To confirm that it’s really gone, click Start, select Run and enter msmsgs.
  13. Run dialogue box

  14. You should get an error message stating that Windows cannot find msmsgs. That means it’s really uninstalled.
  15. error confirming a file has been deleted
    click to enlarge

  16. Again, you can remove several Windows XP programs that aren’t listed using the same method. Just remove the hide, entry. But remember – be careful what you uninstall. Some of the hidden items are hidden for good reason – they’re required by Windows.

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