How to remove AOL (any version) when there’s no icon for it in Add/Remove Programs?

Updated 3-10-2009.

There are a few reasons why you won’t find an icon for AOL under Add/Remove programs on XP or Vista….

  • AOL did not install properly.
  • The AOL Uninstaller can’t find its own files when you ask it to (sounds unbelievable, but see next item).
  • The Add/Remove icon was removed by a partial or aborted uninstall done manually or with a program such as CCleaner or jv16 PowerTools.
  • AOL “hung” when you tried to remove it, thanks to an internal process that could not shut down.

Any of the above problems will result in XP or Vista “thinking” AOL has been removed, so the icon for AOL will disappear from your Add/Remove list whether AOL is still installed or not. There is no way to tell exactly why the icon for AOL is not on the list once it is gone, but as I have written in two previous posts (XP | Vista or Windows 7), you can uninstall AOL without it, so there’s no need to worry.

Today’s email from “RM” touches on this topic.


I was just on your great blog trying to remove AOL from my computer. But, I was unsure about some things so wanted to ask you. (Thought it was a bit involved to leave a comment. Hope you don’t mind an email.)

First, I am using Windows XP (Ver 2002, Service Pack 3).

I tried to remove AOL from Add or Remove Programs and although AOL is listed – size 68.23MB, when I click on “Remove” it takes awhile and comes back advising there is no AOL files on my computer. But, when I followed your XP advice, on Program Files- there is an icon AmericaOnLine 9.0 and another one AOL Companion.

I know you said to go to Common Files at this point, but double-clicking on AmericaOnLine 9.0 brings up a huge amount of files (there is an uninstall icon in the list). Also double-clicking on AOL Companion brings up several files (no uninstall).

Back to Common Files/AOL/ACS – there are several uninstall icons for ACS.

So, wanted to be sure I was removing the right files. Do I need to remove anything under AmericaOnLine 9.0 and/or AOL Companion. Or, only under ACS and will clicking on uninstall remove all of the ACS files?

Sorry, if this is confusing, but I am a novice and unsure of what to do but know I need to remove some of these programs since I now only have 17% free space on my hard drive and my computer is slowing down a lot.

No need to apologize – those are actually some pretty good questions.

You should always use caution and ask yourself these questions before removing an involved program like AOL, so I admire the fact that you felt you should write to me before you proceed.

  1. To answer your first question, you should click on the uninstaller or uninstall icon (the name of it will depend on the exact version of AOL you are using) in your AOL 9.0 folder to remove AOL.

    It’s not a bad idea to check the files listed under AOL Companion for an uninstaller, but since you found no uninstaller in that folder, check Task Manager to make sure no process is running for AOL Companion and end the task for the process if it is. You can simply delete the AOL Companion folder once you’ve removed AOL 9.0.

  2. To answer the second part of your first question, you say that I mentioned checking under Common Files for an AOL Uninstaller. That’s not necessary unless you have AOL Desktop installed or unless you can’t find the AOL uninstaller in the AOL 9.0 program folder.

  3. To answer your second question, you’re right – there are multiple uninstallers for ACS (the America Online Connectivity Service) but the only one you need to concern yourself with is the one you will find under C:Program FilesCommon FilesAOLACS, named uninst.exe. There will be some files and folders left over after you shut down and remove ACS but you can delete them once you’ve removed AOL 9.0.

Update, 11-21-08: “RM” wrote again to say: “Thanks a lot, Marah. I believe I was able to remove all traces of AOL. (I say “I believe”, because it appeared in so many places – amazing.) Anyway, I followed your instructions and was able to uninstall and remove AOL and ACS.”