Whenever you install new programs, it introduces a bunch of new registry keys and creates several files sometimes in several different location. This wouldn’t be a problem if at the time of uninstallation, the program could remove all of these files and registry keys from the system. Often, this doesn’t happen.
Whether or not you can completely remove all traces of a program from the system depends on the uninstaller that came with the program and the developer who wrote it. The “Programs and Features” section in Windows 7 (previously “Add/Remove Programs”) is just a place from where you can run these uninstallers. Windows by itself cannot remove a program from the system. But some third party uninstallers can detect changes made to the system by installed programs and remove them completely when the default uninstaller fails.
Install Monitor is one such software. Unlike other uninstallers, Install Monitor automatically tracks program installation without the user having to manually start the monitor/tracker before installing a program.
When you launch Install Monitor for the first time, it creates a list of all application already installed in your computer. Because these applications were installed before monitoring was enabled, Install Monitor doesn’t have accurate information about the program. It still provides many details that you can’t obtain from Windows “Programs and Features” tool, such as registry keys associated with each programs and files belonging to the programs. Once Install Monitor is installed, subsequent program installs are tracked more accurately.
An interesting feature of Install Monitor is the ability to remove specific files and registry keys from an installation. This allows you to remove additional components that get installed without the user’s permission such as toolbars.
In case you cannot identity a program, Install Monitor offers an option to search on the Internet the name of the program or registry keys.
Install Monitor is an excellent aid for those looking for more control over programs and the installation process.