Last updated 2-27-10 with fresh download link for jv16 PT 2006.
Problem: How to uninstall AOL.
Solution: jv16 PowerTools.
Difficulty Level: Advanced
Uninstalls/Cleans Up After: Any Version of AOL
Good for: XP users only. Vista and Windows 7 users: give jv16 PT 2009 or CCleaner a try.
I’ll be honest: this tutorial is not very quick, so if you don’t have some spare time and a firm desire to clean out every last trace of AOL, see How To Remove AOL with CCleaner instead. Take these steps at your own risk. I’m not responsible for what happens. Bookmark this page, since you’ll need to restart your computer to finish removing AOL.
All visitors running Windows ’98/2000/ME/XP: Before we get started, visit this page to learn how to back up your registry, files, and folders. See this tutorial to uninstall the AOL WAN Miniport after you’ve removed AOL.
Mac users, please read this advice for removing AOL at Mac Rumors.
Issues for all AOL users running XP, Vista or Windows 7: I’ve had email that some PCs are infected by viruses when removing AOL, so run a scan with the free online Trend Micro tool before you get started. Some versions of 9.0 SE will not uninstall because a process won’t shut down and all versions of AOL may become corrupted and unremoveable by normal means; if that’s the case use my instructions to stop the AOL Connectivity Service from running before you remove AOL. See this (for XP) or this (for Vista) if you can’t find or run the AOL Uninstaller.
This tutorial helps you remove AOL and it cleans up and optimizes your PC. It’s especially good for removing older versions of AOL (like AOL 9.0 SE) which leave lots of leftovers behind in Explorer and the Registry. It will take you under an hour to pull off with a free 1-month trial of (click to download) jv16 PowerTools 2006, a powerful uninstaller and registry cleaner.
- 1. Tools we’ll use…
The first screen you’ll see in the jv16 PowerTools program is home base; it’s where you’ll find each tool we’ll use.
- 3. Let’s uninstall AOL…
To uninstall AOL, click the Software Manager. You will see multiple entries for AOL and America Online. Look for and place a check mark next to the AOL Uninstaller, then click Uninstall. From here follow these steps (starting with step 2) to run the AOL Uninstaller correctly. Even if you’re removing an older version of AOL, the instructions will work as a rough guide.
Let the AOL Uninstaller run, restart your computer when prompted, then return to jv16 PT’s Software Manager and remove the remaining AOL and America Online programs. You may remove more than one at a time if you like. You will not need to restart your PC to finish removing them. When you’re done return to jv16’s main window.
- 4. To further clean up, uninstall AOL’s Registry Directories.
Important note: If you have AIM or any AOL or AIM Toolbars installed that you don’t want to remove you should skip these steps.
To get any leftover installed bits of AOL, click the Registry Manager. The contents will display the same way that the Startup Manager’s does – in one long list. Place checks next to unwanted AOL entries, click Remove or Uninstall (Remove is most likely the only option that will work), then return to jv16’s main window.
- 5. Cleaning up some more – delete AOL’s Registry Entries.
AOL can leave hundreds (sometimes thousands) of registry entries behind after you remove it. The more bloated your Registry is, the more RAM your PC will use trying to sort through it. To remove unneeded registry entries, click the Registry Finder and type AOL into the search box. There will be a long list of results. Follow the next steps carefully.
- 5a. Deleting AOL’s Registry Entries…
Click Select and All to highlight the entire list of results. Most of them belong to AOL’s now-missing software, but some of them may not, so check each entry carefully. Sort by clicking on the Key and/or Value Tabs along the top of the window to pinpoint what you’re looking at. Click on the entries you want to keep to deselect them. Once the scan is done, be sure to back up the results, then click Remove to delete the highlighted entries (this step is definitely not for the dyslexic – double check your selections before you proceed). Repeat steps for America Online only if you do not have AIM or any AOL or AIM Toolbars installed, then return to jv16’s main window.
- 6. Clean the entire Registry.
There may be a few stray AOL registry entries on your PC after following the last step. Also, removing AOL might cause a few other dead entries in your Registry that may seem unrelated, but in fact are quite related to it. To clean out the last bits of AOL, click the Registry Cleaner. From the “Quick Select” options on the lower right-hand side of the Registry Cleaner choose Normal for a quick, basic scan, then click Start.
- 6a. Cleaning the entire Registry…
Once the scan is done, click Select and All to highlight the entire list for deletion (as in the step above, you might want to check the results over to make sure you’d like to remove them), be sure to back up the results, choose Fix or Remove (“Remove” is quicker, but “Fix” will repair what it can), then return to jv16’s main window.
- 7. Compact the Registry to gain hard drive space.
When you remove a lot of entries from the Registry, like we did in the steps above, the Registry will fragment (ie, it will throw links to it’s files all over the place). To make your PC respond quickly and use less RAM, you will want to compact the Registry (squeeze all the remaining files back together again). To do so, click the Registry Compactor. You will see the computer’s Registry Hives. Click Select, All, and Compact. It will take a few minutes and the Compactor window may temporarily turn white. When it’s finished the Compactor will say how much space was regained on your hard drive. Keep jv16 PowerTools open for the next steps.
- 8. Gain more space – delete AOL’s leftover files and folders.
To get at AOL’s leftover files and folders, we’ll hunt them down through Explorer Search. As in the steps above, this step will give you more space on your hard drive and reduce RAM usage. To open Explorer Search, on jv16’s main screen, click Shortcuts, System Tools, and Find files or folder.
- 8a. Gaining more space – deleting AOL’s leftovers…
In Explorer Search click All files and folders. Type AOL into the search box and choose to “Look in” Local Drive C:/ (or whatever drive you had AOL installed on). Click More Advanced Options, click Search for hidden files and folders and Search subfolders, then click Search.
Unless there’s a file, folder or bookmark you want, you can delete whatever turns up. Repeat steps for America Online and keep jv16 open for the next step.
- 9. Clean up with Disk Cleanup.
Disk Cleanup is another way to gain more space on your hard drive. It takes files you’ve deleted and compresses them so that they take up less space. To open Disk Cleanup from jv16’s main window, click Shortcuts and Run.
- 9a. Cleaning up with Disk Cleanup…
We’re going to run the Disk Cleanup tool, so type Cleanmgr.exe into the Run dialog box.
- 9b. Cleaning up with Disk Cleanup…
Disk Cleanup will open. Place checks next to files you don’t need and click “Yes” to delete them.
- 10. Get your PC running like a dream – defragment your hard drive.
Defragmenting the hard drive AOL was on will compress the remaining files and folders so your PC will run faster and use less RAM. To Defragment: On jv16’s main screen, click Shortcuts, System Tools, then click Disk Defragmenter. This will open the Disk Defragmenter.
- 10a. Defragmenting your hard drive…
Click Analyze for a Defragmentation Report.
…or just click Defragment and let it do its thing. Imagine files neatly lined up next to each other, instead of thrown all over the place, and you’ll get why doing this is a good idea.
Note: Once you’ve uninstalled AOL this way, you’ll see you can uninstall anything else, like AIM, RealPlayer, QuickTime, etc., using the same method — you’ll just need to change the file names.
Further Reading: Check the FAQs if you have a question; if your question is not answered in the FAQs, please feel free to send me an email. See my How-to Section for more ways to get AOL out of your life.