How to Uninstall Any Version of AOL with CCleaner

Last updated 3-16-09.

Problem: How to uninstall AOL.

Solution: CCleaner.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Uninstalls/Cleans Up After: Any Version of AOL

Good for: XP and Vista/Windows 7 users.

Easy...uninstalling AOL with CCleaner

Advanced Vista/Windows 7 users only: I suggest you use CCleaner first, then follow up with jv16 PT 2006 to get at AOL’s leftover registry entries – if you use CCleaner first you can remove every leftover reg entry with jv16 afterward. No other method tested so far on Vista does that.

Credit for the idea to write this tutorial goes to William (the page no longer exists), who’s comments made me check out CCleaner’s neat features.

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 unremovable 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 will show you how to remove AOL and help you clean up and optimize your computer at the same time. The average person who wants to get rid of AOL’s leftover files and registry entries should be pleased with the results. If you’re a little pickier (like me) and prefer to remove every trace of AOL, you’ll want to see How To Remove AOL with jv16 PowerTools instead.

An excellent video on how to use CCleaner was made by Help On Demand, an IT Specialist who makes made short educational videos for the masses.

Before we get started let’s download CCleaner. Save the installer to your Desktop and follow the next steps.

1. Before you install CCleaner…
Uncheck unwanted items before installing CCleaner. Click to enlarge all shots.

You’ll see a dialog box asking if you want CCleaner shortcuts installed (this is the “Slim” installer, so you won’t be asked if you want the Yahoo! Toolbar installed). To stop a shortcut from being installed simply uncheck the box for it. When you’re done making your choices, click Install.

2. How to access CCleaner…
Choose how to access CCleaner

There’s a few ways to access CCleaner: add a shortcut to your Desktop, your Start List, or add a right-click shortcut to your Recycle Bin.

3. How to uninstall AOL…
Begin the AOL removal process

To uninstall AOL, open CCleaner and click the third icon down on the left hand side of the window marked Tools. The Uninstall Tool will open. 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 CCleaner’s Uninstall Tool 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.

4. Delete leftover files and folders…
Looking for AOL files and folders in Explorer

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. Right-click the item and click Delete, or highlight it with your mouse, hold down Shift on your keyboard and highlight more items, then right-click the block and click Delete.

5. Delete (most of) AOL’s registry entries…
Remove leftover registry entries

Before you get started, see this to make sure you use this feature safely and effectively. Important note: If you have AIM or any AOL or AIM Toolbars installed that you don’t want to remove you should skip this step. If you choose to proceed and later have a problem, here are the steps for restoring CCleaner’s registry backup.

Open CCleaner again and click the box marked Issues. You’ll see a list of registry issues that CCleaner will check. You can uncheck any issues you want to skip. Once you’ve chosen what to check, click the button marked Scan for Issues. Once the scan is done, look over the results to make sure they’re safe to remove, make a backup of the results, then click the button marked Fix Selected Issues.

You have a choice of how to remove registry issues: you can remove them all at once, or one at a time. My preference is to remove them all at once (it’s quicker).

6. Use CCleaner to clean up your PC…
using CCleaner to clean up PC

Click the Cleaner box, then click the Analyze button. See this to make sure you use this feature safely and effectively. In a few minutes (or less) you’ll be given a result list that tells you what can be removed from your PC. Once you’ve made sure the items listed are safe to remove, click the Run Cleaner button.

7. Defragment your PC’s hard drive…
Defrag your hard drive

Download Auslogics Disk Defrag (told you this was easy). Save it to your Desktop, then click the shortcut to install it. Once it’s running, keep hitting the Next button until you see it’s defragmenting your hard drive. Click Finish when it’s through; it will tell you how much space you regained.

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.

16 thoughts on “How to Uninstall Any Version of AOL with CCleaner

  1. have cc cleaner went to tools and aol is not listed…its also not listed in add/remove control pannel….but I ahve aol 9.0 vr which if fully functional on the computer ….how do i get rid of this and all other versions of aol…thanks Paul


  2. On XP –
    On Vista –
    Seriously, how hard is it to look around my blog before you ask me a question? The information you need is linked to right there in the sidebar. Here’s a screen shot to illustrate how much of my time and your own that you have wasted by leaving me a comment to ask me this easily self-answered question:

    Please look around harder (scanning the list of articles in the sidebar is not that difficult, is it?) .


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  11. I plan on using CCleaner to remove AOL,but when i tested it using the the AOL uninstaller (via CCleaner) it prompted me to let it scan for other aol related software , so if i let it (aol uninstaller) scan-search,can it inadvertently re-enable the Aol Connectivity services in the “windows services” menu that i have already disabled , so possibly or not , to compromise a smoother uninstall ?
    I’m just trying to play it safe….
    thanks !


    • No, it can’t. In fact, one of the choices that the AOL Uninstaller will present to you is to uninstall the Connectivity Service. Make sure you choose to remove it before you complete the uninstall.


  12. sorry , I also forgot to ask if this procedure can be performed in “safe mode” as well? and is it more thorough & effective doing it that way ?

    sorry for the extra posting,
    thanks again,


    • Yes and possibly yes. You can remove AOL in Safe Mode (don’t choose “with Networking”, just use the regular Safe Mode to keep the computer offline).

      How much more “thorough and effective” AOL removal is in Safe Mode is up for debate; the Connectivity Service, if it will not uninstall, will not uninstall any better offline, since it starts automatically in any networking mode and must be disabled manually if AOL’s Uninstaller won’t do that for you.

      9-7-2010: OK, I screwed this reply up: the Connectivity Service is completely and automatically disabled in Safe Mode, so to get it to uninstall, you can’t go wrong switching into Safe Mode.

      But – and this is a big “but” 🙂 – being the chronic geek I am, I was so curious to see how this worked out that after I replied to you I re-installed AOL 9.0SE on my home desktop running XP SP3 and it was impossible, even in Safe Mode, to remove it. But not for the usual reason (the Connectivity Service!).

      The Connectivity Service uninstalled without a hitch, and AOL 9.0SE appeared to, but when I switched back to normal boot, there were still 3 aolsoftware.exe processes running that I could not disable by uninstalling the remaining AOL programs on my computer (AOL Coach, AOL Screensaver, AOL Pictures, and in addition to those, AOL (Choose Which Versions to remove) was still present on my Add & Remove Control Panel).

      So while it still helps to visit the link below for more information on removing AOL when the Connectivity Service ties things up, I need to write another article on what to do when it’s something like aolsoftware.exe that screws everything up.

      For problems with stopping and removing AOL’s Connectivity service, please see this article:


      • Thanks intoo , for making this removal totally painless & hitch free !
        all went very well, and thanks for taking the time for the quick response ,much appreciated !



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