Friday, July 20, 2007

Missing buttons in Add/Remove Programs applet

One day not too long ago, I started my Add/Remove Programs applet to uninstall an application. To my initial surprise and later horror, all of the buttons were gone. I could view the list of installed applications, but couldn't do anything with them -- no Remove button!

After spending most of the day searching on the web for a fix, I came to realize that many others had the same problem but there wasn't a definitive answer to fix the problem. The point of this post is to give the reader several options to fix the problem.

  • Q: Where did the buttons go?
  • A: It was a corruption of the registry. Keys were deleted. Windows could no longer find the uninstaller associated with the application. Programs like Registry Mechanic cannot fix this problem. I know because I tried.
There are four ways to fix the problem. They are ordered by increasing impact on your computer and possibly your life:
  1. If you have Windows XP, run System Restore. Slowly step backwards in time until the problem is fixed. System Restore keeps backups of your registry. This is what I did to fix the problem and it worked great. I did have to reinstall a few programs that were installed after the problem started.
  2. If you use some other utility to keep backups of your registry, restore it to a point before the problem started.
  3. If you use programs like Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image, restore a backup saved before the problem started. By restoring your disk image, you restore your registry.
  4. Reinstall Windows XP.
That last one could be really painful.

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