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How to clean bloatware off your PC

How to clean bloatware off your PC


If your new PC came with a bunch of garbage preinstalled, you can get rid of it easily.

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An Asus gaming alptop with the settings menu open over a background of keyboards, Windows logos and open Zoom Windows.
Illustration by Samar Haddad / The Verge

It happens to the best of us. You’ve just purchased a new PC, and you’re excited about all the blessed empty storage that’s there for you to load with your favorite programs. But why is so much of the drive already full? What are all these notifications you’re getting from apps you’ve never heard of? And why is some antivirus program trying to scan everything you download?

It sounds like your new device may have a bad case of bloatware. It’s quite common for PCs (even fairly expensive ones) to come preloaded with a bunch of third-party software. Some will be free trials included with the hope that you will upgrade to paid services. There may be apps here and there that you actually want and find useful, but many will likely be garbage that you don’t need. Not only will that take up storage space, but the constant scans, pop-ups, and other bells and whistles can slow your computer down and decrease your battery life.

Here’s how to clear preinstalled programs off your PC so that you can truly start fresh.

A screenshot of the Installed Apps menu in Windows 11 settings with Uninstall highlighted next to Solitaire.
I’ve never once played a card game on this computer. Goodbye.

There are a dizzying array of programs you can download that claim to be able to clean out your PC for you. You can also add or remove programs using the command line. But Windows 11 makes it so easy to uninstall bloatware in Settings that I recommend just doing that.

  • Type Add or remove programs into the search bar. Once you see the feature pop up (probably under the subhead Best match), click on that.
  • A list of the programs that have been installed on your computer will pop up.
  • On any program you want to uninstall, click the three dots to its right. A menu will pop up; select Uninstall.

If you’re not sure whether a program should stay or go, just ask yourself: Will I use this? If not, chuck it. Beyond that, you can do some research on any programs that you’re not sure about. Sites like Should I Remove It can help you decide what should stay.

A screenshot of the Windows 11 Menu with Uninstall highlighted next to Microsoft office.
This can take as few as two clicks.

You can also uninstall directly from the Start Menu.

  • Click the Windows icon next to the search bar.
  • Click All apps.
  • Right-click on any program you want to uninstall. Select Uninstall on the menu that pops up.

It should be as simple as that. Some programs don’t make it easy for you, though — you may end up needing to close other tabs and restart your device.

If you’ve uninstalled everything that looks like bloatware but you still feel like things are slowing your PC down, you may want to invest in a tool like CCleaner, which can automatically scan your device to remove gunk. (But be warned that these clean-up programs can also generate very annoying pop-ups — ask me how I know.)