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With the many years that Windows has behind it, it’s no surprise what a wealth of software exists for the platform. Over the life of your Windows installation, you’ve probably picked up a variety of programs yourself.

We hope that you’re using some of the best Windows software The Best Windows Software The Best Windows Software Windows is swimming in a sea of free applications. Which ones can you trust and which ones are the best? If you're unsure or need to solve a specific task, consult this list. Read More , but there’s another side. Many people keep unnecessary software installed on their systems. Some programs are just outdated, others are downright malicious.

Let’s take a look at commonly installed software you don’t need to have on your PC.

How to Check Your Programs

Not sure how to check the installed programs on your system? It’s easy! For Windows 7 and above, click on the Start button and type Programs and Features. This will open your Programs list, where you can review everything currently installed on your system.

To remove a piece of software, just right-click it and choose Uninstall. Depending on the software, it might uninstall immediately or require you to advance through some dialogue boxes. This method should work fine for most users, but if you find you need to uninstall lots of software, have a look at our methods for removing programs in bulk How To Install & Uninstall Windows Programs In Bulk How To Install & Uninstall Windows Programs In Bulk A mass installer or uninstaller can save you heaps of time. Remember the last time you set up a new computer? We are going to teach you how to do these tasks in a flash. Read More .

1. Microsoft Silverlight

Once upon a time, having a variety of browser plug-ins installed was essential to having a smooth experience. One site needed Flash to play videos, another required Java for an applet, and a third needed Silverlight. That time is largely gone, and as insecure plugins Browser Plugins - One Of The Biggest Security Problems On The Web Today [Opinion] Browser Plugins - One Of The Biggest Security Problems On The Web Today [Opinion] Web browsers have become much more secure and hardened against attack over the years. The big browser security problem these days is browser plugins. I don’t mean the extensions that you install in your browser... Read More continue to fade in use, they have become unnecessary.

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Microsoft Silverlight was sort of an alternative to Flash, and used to be required for watching Netflix in your browser (it’s since switched to HTML5 video Netflix Announces Plans To Switch To HTML5 Video Streaming [Updates] Netflix Announces Plans To Switch To HTML5 Video Streaming [Updates] Netflix's developers have officially announced their intentions to switch the service's playback interface from Microsoft Silverlight to HTML5. The announcement came shortly after Microsoft revealed that support for Silverlight 5 will stop in 2021, giving... Read More ). However, very few sites use Silverlight these days, and security patches will only support it until its end of life in 2021. Neither Chrome nor Edge support it, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever find a site that needs it nowadays.

2. Any and All Toolbars

Toolbars used to infect browsers like the plague 4 Annoying Browser Toolbars & How To Get Rid Of Them 4 Annoying Browser Toolbars & How To Get Rid Of Them Browser toolbars just don't seem to go away. Let's look at some common nuisances and detail how to remove them. Read More , but modern versions of Chrome and other browsers have gotten better at blocking them. But you might still be running one of these useless toolbars.

Aside from wasting screen space, they slow down your browser speed and replicate features already in the browser, like shortcuts and Google searching. Even the Google Toolbar for internet Explorer, while not malicious, is just unnecessary, as internet Explorer 11 includes a search bar.

Have a look in your programs list for toolbars like the Bing Bar, Google Toolbar for internet Explorer, Ask Toolbar, Yahoo! Toolbar, or the Babylon Toolbar. If you find any of them, throw them out. Afterwards, make sure to check your browser to ensure it’s been completely cleaned 3 Essential Steps To Get Rid Of Chrome Hijackers In Minutes 3 Essential Steps To Get Rid Of Chrome Hijackers In Minutes Have you ever opened your browser of choice and been greeted with a bizarre-looking start page or an unsightly toolbar glued to the top of the page? Restore your browser to tip-top shape. Read More .

3. Coupon Printer for Windows

The purpose of Coupon Printer for Windows is to give access to the deals from Coupons.com. However, since this software is typically found bundled in with other programs, chances are you that you didn’t want to install it in the first place.

If you’re a die-hard Coupons.com user, you can leave this one installed so you can access your discounts. Everyone else, however, should check out the best online coupon sites The 3 Best Online Coupon Sites to Save You Money The 3 Best Online Coupon Sites to Save You Money Coupon sites are one of the best and easiest ways to save when shopping online. From quick deals to guides on how to control your budget, here are the best coupon resources on the Web. Read More that don’t require you to install anything.

4. PC Cleaners

Many users have installed (or accidentally installed) a PC-cleaning app at one time or another. The majority of these products range from useless to harmful, as registry cleaners don’t improve Windows performance Don't Believe The Hype: Registry Cleaners Don't Make Windows Faster Don't Believe The Hype: Registry Cleaners Don't Make Windows Faster Much advice has been given on how to keep your computer running smoothly, as well as how to fix it when it has become slow. We have even published a Windows on Speed guide, written... Read More at all. If you find MyCleanPC, PC Cleaner 5000, or Advanced Windows Cleaner in your installed list, you should remove them.

To clean your PC for real Use This PC Cleaner Software To Keep Windows Running Smoothly Use This PC Cleaner Software To Keep Windows Running Smoothly Overzealous PC cleaning can break things, but some cleaning will help you free up space and keep your system running quickly. Read More , we recommend using a combination of built-in Windows tools and trusted software to safely remove unneeded files.

5. Java

Java is a runtime that includes two components: Java on the desktop, found under Programs and Features in Windows, and the Java plug-in for browsers (which is notorious for having security problems Think Flash Is the Only Insecure Plugin? Think Again Think Flash Is the Only Insecure Plugin? Think Again Flash isn't the only browser plugin that presents a risk to your online privacy and security. Here are three more plugins that you probably have installed in your browser, but should uninstall today. Read More ). Though far more common than Silverlight, Java is similar in that its use is dropping steadily. Last year, Chrome cut support for Java The Web Just Became More Secure: Google Drops Support for Java The Web Just Became More Secure: Google Drops Support for Java When Java was first released in 1995, it was revolutionary. But now, it's safe to say that Java has lost its shine, and Google is about to drop support for it in Chrome. Read More .

For a long time, many people kept Java installed because Minecraft required it. However, this is no longer the case, as the game now includes its own version of Java bundled in. We’ve discussed the issues with Java on Mac Disable Java on Mac OS X for a Secure System Disable Java on Mac OS X for a Secure System Macs are generally secure, but Java has been causing security problems for years. It's finally time to get rid of Java on your Mac; here's how. Read More , and many of the issues also pertain to Windows.

Unless you’re an Android developer or use other specialized software that relies on Java, such as MATLAB, LibreOffice Base, or PDF Split and Merge, you can uninstall Java and probably never notice a difference. If you do need to keep Java installed on your desktop, check our guide on disabling the browser plug-in and making it safer to use Is Java Unsafe & Should You Disable It? Is Java Unsafe & Should You Disable It? Oracle’s Java plug-in has become less and less common on the Web, but it’s become more and more common in the news. Whether Java is allowing over 600,000 Macs to be infected or Oracle is... Read More .

6. Manufacturer Junk

Unless you’re running a premium device like the Surface Pro 4 (our review Surface Pro 4 Review and Giveaway Surface Pro 4 Review and Giveaway If you’re looking for a flexible portable hybrid computer, one that is capable of replacing your notebook and iPad or Android tablet, the Surface Pro 4 Core M3 device is a perfectly adequate replacement. Read More ) or installed Windows from scratch on a new desktop, chances are you have lots of junk from the manufacturer installed. Laptops from HP, Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, and more are prone to this issue.

None of this software is included in Windows by default, so it’s not required for Windows to function. Some of the pre-installed branded programs, like photo and gaming apps, or those that duplicate Windows tools, are completely unnecessary. Others, such as driver/BIOS update utilities (like Lenovo System Update), are worth keeping around.

Of course, we can’t comment on every single piece of manufacturer software. To find out about yours, it’s a good idea to check out Should I Remove It? Know What Software To Uninstall With Should I Remove It? Know What Software To Uninstall With Should I Remove It? Here at MakeUseOf, we've put out many articles reviewing and highlighting software that allows you to completely and cleanly uninstall applications from your system. One issue many of you run into is not knowing which... Read More , which gives an overview on what each program does and how others have rated it. When in doubt, it’s probably not a necessary tool. Have a look at how to remove bloatware How To Remove Bloatware & Avoid It On New Laptops How To Remove Bloatware & Avoid It On New Laptops Tired of software you never wanted consuming your laptop's resources? Your computer isn't free ad space. Here's how to get rid of bloatware. Read More and you’ll be ready to go.

7. Windows 10 Modern Apps Bloatware

You’d think that fighting manufacturer bloatware was annoying enough, but Microsoft has included it in Windows 10 Tired of Bloatware? How to Purge Windows 10 Store Apps Tired of Bloatware? How to Purge Windows 10 Store Apps For Microsoft, Windows 10 is a cash machine. With future updates, more apps will be pre-installed and promoted on the Start Menu. Let us show you how to easily remove pre-installed Windows Store apps. Read More , as well. It comes in the form of Modern apps, but can thankfully be easily uninstalled.

Some of the default Modern apps, like Xbox and Weather, are useful to some people but not others. Others, like Get Office and Candy Crush Saga, are junk and should be removed by everyone. You can check out how to uninstall these apps one-by-one or all at once in our Windows 10 bloatware removal guide How to Easily Remove Bloatware From Windows 10 How to Easily Remove Bloatware From Windows 10 Windows 10 comes with several pre-installed apps that take up space on your device and aren't easy to remove. Sounds like bloatware, doesn't it? We show you how to remove these apps. Read More .

8. Skype Click to Call

You’d think that Microsoft would be aware of the issue of programs installing extra unwanted junk, but they’re actually guilty of this issue themselves with Skype. Installing Skype gives you not only the base program (which is a fine tool), but often brings the Skype Toolbar and Skype Click to Call extension along.

Click to Call enables you to click on phone numbers in your browser to call them with Skype. However, unless you’ve made Skype your primary telephone line How To Use Skype As Your Main Home Phone Line How To Use Skype As Your Main Home Phone Line It's 2013 - stop paying for a land line. If you've got broadband Internet you can set up Skype, pay for a subscription and and keep your total home phone bill under $5 a month... Read More , you’ll probably never use this features, as calls often cost money. You can feel free to remove this extra software and Skype will continue to work fine.

9. QuickTime

A few months ago, QuickTime would have fallen into the same camp as Silverlight — an old tool that’s just been phased out. However, in April of this year, Trend Micro released a warning that QuickTime for Windows has major security problems that Apple seemingly doesn’t plan on fixing. Thus, there’s now no reason to keep QuickTime around.

Removing QuickTime shouldn’t cause any disruptions, as iTunes doesn’t rely on it. If you need to open a specific video format that you used to use QuickTime for, like MOV, use the free, versatile, and secure VLC Media Player The Top 5 Free Media Players for Windows The Top 5 Free Media Players for Windows Strong media player apps always rise to the top and it's not important which one you use. The best media player for you is the one you most enjoy using. We suggest the following... Read More instead.

10. Shockwave Player

Adobe Flash Player is dying a slow death Why Flash Needs to Die (And How You Can Get Rid of It) Why Flash Needs to Die (And How You Can Get Rid of It) The Internet's relationship with Flash has been rocky for a while. Once, it was a universal standard on the web. Now, it looks like it may be headed to the chopping block. What changed? Read More , but its widespread use for videos and games mean that it’s still wise to keep around for the time being. Adobe Shockwave Player is a different tool and isn’t necessary to keep around.

Shockwave Player lets you view content created with Adobe Director, which isn’t nearly as common as Flash content. You can remove Shockwave and you’ll, again, probably not encounter anything that needs it. Note that some browsers, like Firefox, display Flash Player as “Shockwave Flash” — you shouldn’t turn this off unless you want to disable Flash How To Stop Auto-playing Flash And HTML5 Videos In Firefox How To Stop Auto-playing Flash And HTML5 Videos In Firefox Does auto-play video drive you mad? We'll talk you through the best ways to stop auto-playing videos in your Firefox browser. Read More .

What Other Programs Are Just Unnecessary?

For the vast majority of users, the above programs are unnecessary because they don’t serve any useful function or are outdated. When in doubt, you should remove the respective program because you can always re-install it, if needed.

Looking to strip out more stuff you don’t need? You’ll be happy to remove these unnecessary Windows 10 features 9 Windows 10 Features You Can Safely Disable 9 Windows 10 Features You Can Safely Disable Windows 10 is packed with features, but a lot of them are unnecessary. Here's how to safely prune unwanted features off your Windows 10 system for a more streamlined experience. Read More .

Now, we want to hear from you. What other programs do you see installed all the time that just aren’t necessary? Leave a comment with your input!

Image Credits: rodimov/Shutterstock

  1. Thomas
    October 31, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Actually most video editors rely on QuickTime to open ?'s media files, so if you use video editing softwares - install an alternative QuickTime release (like QuickTime lite)

  2. jasray
    October 19, 2016 at 1:15 am

    So delete the comment that shows the original links to the article rather than delete the article, admit to plagiarism, and be a responsible tech writer. Hmmm . . . I don't think the original writer will be please.

    • Tina Sieber
      October 27, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Jasray, I don't understand your comment. What comment was deleted here and are you sure you left your comment under the right article? This article is an original.

  3. Quantum foam
    October 18, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Agreed, but as I said, I think they are referring essentially to the Java Plugin, not the Java Runtime Environment. I wish the article's sub-heading had made that distinction clearer.

    • Tina Sieber
      October 27, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Thank you for your feedback! I believe Ben was referring to the Java browser plug-in, as well as the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) found under Programs and Features in Windows.

      Since the vulnerabilities are usually located in the JRE, it makes sense to remove both, though the browser plug-in is the most likely port of entry for malware exploiting weaknesses in Java.

      As you've pointed out though, several programs rely on the JRE to work, in which case only the browser plug-in should be removed. We'll add a note of warning to the article.

  4. Glenn Berry
    October 18, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Sky Go uses Silverlight unfortunately.

    • Ben Stegner
      October 31, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      I've never used the service myself, but that's a shame. Hopefully they switch to a more modern setup soon.

  5. Bornik
    October 18, 2016 at 10:24 am

    I don't think Java is an unnecessary software that everyone should uninstall.

    • Quantum foam
      October 18, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      Sure, Java environment has is uses, MATLAB, a scientific programming tool for example requires it, which is why I have it installed. However most users don't run software that needs Java.

      But I think they are referring to the Java plugin here, which is a known soft target for threat vectors. And hardly any website nowadays uses that.
      I personally have only encountered it on the nVidia website where it users the plugin to auto gather system hardware data, when you are downloading drivers manually from their website and don't want to type in the graphics card model.
      That and one or two sites, non mainstream, in over 6 years.

      • Jouni "rautamiekka" Järvinen
        October 18, 2016 at 3:30 pm

        LibreOffice Base requires Java, as do Java macros for LO. Then there's Vuze. Not sure if installable RuneScape Clients require.

        • Quantum Foam
          October 27, 2016 at 6:36 pm

          Thank you for that, I didn't know some of the software you mentioned here.
          But I believe most people will not use any of those applications. Yes, thousands or even millions would, but 100s of millions wouldn't. No one article will capture every use case, but for most people, they don't need JRE (and shouldn't even have it installed in the first place).
          The (relatively) few who run software that needs JRE will have to keep it installed, but the writer has commented above that they will update the article and acknowledge this use case exception.

    • Ben Stegner
      October 31, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks for the responses here, everyone. Yes, my main point with including Java is that most people don't use much (if any) software that requires Java any more. Coupled with its security risks, the best strategy for most people is to uninstall Java, then reinstall if needed for some software. And of course, turn it off in the browser.

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