Windows 10 apps: Which are worth keeping? Which ones should you dump?
Written by gcole on April 10, 2022
Most (but not all) Windows 10 apps can be uninstalled
Microsoft has done a s dialog box to the new Windows 10 user experience: Settings > Apps > Apps & Features.
Click any app in that list and, most of the time, you’ll expose an Uninstall button like the one shown here. Using that button, you can systematically remove most of Microsoft’s built-in apps. Most, not all. As you’ll see in this gallery, however, the Uninstall button is missing from the listings for a small but significant number of built-in apps. Although there are alternative ways to remove these apps (using PowerShell, for example, or third-party apps), I don’t recommend those options.
Uninstalling a built-in Windows 10 Universal app removes it from your user profile, but it doesn’t remove the source files for the app from the system. If you set up an additional user account, you’ll need to go through the uninstall routine for that account.
Get rid of the sponsored apps quickly
If you’ve installed a fresh copy of Windows 10 Pro lately, you’ve probably been unpleasantly surprised by the es and consumer apps splattered on the Start screen.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid installing Candy Crush and its companions in the first place, as I explain in “Avoid Windows 10 crapware: How to get rid of Candy Crush and all the rest.”
Beginning with version 1903, Windows 10 groups these sponsored apps into a single folder; you can remove that folder with a right-click.
Internet Explorer 11 is one of several ‘optional features’
Not all of the unwanted pieces of Windows 10 are delivered through the Windows Store. A few are considered “optional features,” which can be managed by clicking the Optional Features link on the Apps & Features Settings page.
There, you’ll find tools for managing and removing some of the most ancient parts of Windows. You’ll want to keep features like voice and handwriting recognition, but you can clear away the dinosaurs (including Internet Explorer 11 and Windows Media Player) away by tapping an item and then tapping Uninstall.
Remove a few more legacy features using this dialog box
There’s one more place to look for some of the ancient Windows cruft that never moved to the new Settings page. Open the Turn Windows Features On Or Off dialog box to see the full list of features. (To find it, click in the Windows search box and start typing Turn Windows Features On Or Off until the shortcut appears.)
The list includes some up-to-date features. This is where you turn on Hyper-V, for example. But it also includes alternate ways to disable Internet Explorer 11 and Media Player as well as a way to get rid of features like the Print To PDF and XPS Document Writer options, which can clutter the Print dialog box.
These system utilities are considered essential and can’t be removed
Three of the preinstalled Windows 10 apps are considered essential system utilities and can’t be removed. Nor should you try.
The Microsoft Store manages apps, and the App Installer utility is a system component that allows Windows 10 to install packaged apps directly. Administrators can manage user access to these features, but trying to remove them will almost certainly damage the system badly.
Likewise, the Get Help app adds direct links to Microsoft support reources for consumers, partners, and enterprise customers. Don’t try to remove it.
You can’t uninstall Edge, but you can hide it
Microsoft Edge is the default web browser in Windows 10. You can’t remove it, for a very good reason: Without it, how would you download your preferred web browser? Beginning in 2020, Microsoft is slowly replacing the original Edge with a new default browser, based on the open source Chromium codebase. Confusingly, it’s also called Microsoft Edge.