So a customer called our Hotline this week asking for the steps to do a ‘clean’ uninstall a SolidWorks 2011 64-bit version. In previous years we would have done a long GoToMeeting with the customer to uninstall the software, then delete the correct folders, then walk the customer through the computer’s registry carefully removing exactly the folders related to SolidWorks. (Removing the wrong folder in the registry can cause the computer to stop booting up. So call us first if you’ve never done it!)
But now in the futuristic year 2011 we have a better option, a great feature the developers added to the program this year and then never told anyone about. It’s called “Total Uninstall”.
Go to your Windows Control Panel, then “Programs and Features” (or “Add/Remove Programs if you’re still on XP), find SolidWorks 2011, right click on it and hit the “Uninstall” choice. The ironically named “Installation Manager” will come up, looking like it always does:
If you just hit the “Remove Items” button, it will only do the plain, old-fashioned uninstall, and you would still have to muck about in the registry to get really clean. Here’s the hidden gem: right click on the gray bar running across the top of the install manager and a menu will come up. In that menu choose the “Total Uninstall (removes all user settings)” option:
There is of course, one pop-up asking if you’re sure you want to do this, but no other feedback from the install manager that you’ve turned on this powerful setting and you have to hit “Remove Items” on faith.
The uninstall doesn’t seem to take any longer than it usually does, but when it’s done, if you try to go to your SolidWorks keys in your registry, they are gone! And if you try to go to your SolidWorks installation folders… they’re still there. But they’re empty. Yeah, I don’t know why they did that. But at least they’re empty!
Finally, the uninstaller nicely makes a back-up copy of your registry keys and if you miss the quick little message that tells you where they are saved, I’ll repeat it here: they are saved in the “Documents” folder of the currently logged in user.
So there you have it: an incredibly useful feature that you may only need to use once a year, that gives no indication about where it’s hidden or if it’s on! Total Uninstall, everyone! Now you have something to talk about at the next SolidWorks User Group (SWUG) meeting you go to!
(What’s that? You don’t know when or where the next SWUG located within New England is? Check out the New England SWUG‘s page for details. We can discuss Total Uninstall over a free meal!)