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Posted 25 Jul 2012

Uninstalling applications programmatically (with WMI)

, 23 Aug 2012
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Uninstall applications with WMI


Recently I was faced with the challenge of uninstalling an application programmatically. I had scoured the internet only to find a large amount of developers taking the registry key approach (finding the uninstall string then shelling to Windows installer). This however has its disadvantages…this uninstall string is located in different areas depending on your Windows build and architecture (x86 or x64). I decided to do a little research with Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and came up with the following solution.

Using the code

The first step is to add a COM reference to System.Management, adding the namespace is not enough, the COM reference contains the classes we will use.

using System.Management

Listing installed applications

Next, let's get a collection of applications that are installed on the system (note that some items may show up in Win32_Product that don't actually have an uninstall string and are not listed in add/remove programs, i'm unsure why...)

The first step in achieving this is by creating a ManagementObjectSearcher which Retrieves a collection of management objects based on a specified query, our query is based on the Win32_Product class:

ManagementObjectSearcher mos = new ManagementObjectSearcher("SELECT * FROM Win32_Product");

After the query has been set the command needs to be executed, to do so we call the ManagementObjectSearcher Get() function (which we initiated as mos):

*Take note that the Get() method is resource intensive and may take a bit to return*

foreach (ManagementObject mo in mos.Get())

Since the Get() statement is IEnumerable we can enumerate its contents in a for loop, exposing each ManagementObject. We are simply looking for the "Name" property (you can find others on the MSDN site: )

We get a ManagementObject property by using the following format:


Since it is an Object, we need to convert it to a string (which is the [Name] data type), this is very simple in C#.

The full block of code to list installed applications:

using System.Management
private List<string> ListPrograms()
    List<string> programs = new List<string>();

        ManagementObjectSearcher mos = 
          new ManagementObjectSearcher("SELECT * FROM Win32_Product");
        foreach (ManagementObject mo in mos.Get())
                //more properties:

            catch (Exception ex)
                //this program may not have a name property

        return programs;

    catch (Exception ex)
        return programs;

Now that we have a list of installed applications we should be able to pass the [Name] property to our uninstall method.

Uninstalling an application

Now it's time to uninstall. Note that the uninstall method is pretty much the same as our method to enumerate and list installed applications, the only difference here is we now need to Invoke the Win32_Product method to “Uninstall” (there are a list of other available methods in the link above).

The query has also changed. Now that we know the name of the application, we do not need to enumerate the entire list of applications installed:

"SELECT * FROM Win32_Product WHERE Name = '" + ProgramName + "'"

Here is the entire block to uninstall an application, I'll get in detail after you take a look.

 private bool UninstallProgram(string ProgramName)
        ManagementObjectSearcher mos = new ManagementObjectSearcher(
          "SELECT * FROM Win32_Product WHERE Name = '" + ProgramName + "'");
        foreach (ManagementObject mo in mos.Get())
                if (mo["Name"].ToString() == ProgramName)
                    object hr = mo.InvokeMethod("Uninstall", null);
                    return (bool)hr;
            catch (Exception ex)
                //this program may not have a name property, so an exception will be thrown

        //was not found...
        return false;

    catch (Exception ex)
        return false;

After the search is executed with mos.Get() we will have a list (most likely just 1 instance) of the chosen application to uninstall (You can see that I placed a simple safety net of comparing the application about to be uninstalled with the actual application we want to remove). Now lets focus on the method that actually uninstalls the application:

object hr = mo.InvokeMethod("Uninstall", null);

Note: ManagementObject.Invoke() requires Full trust for the immediate caller. This member cannot be used by partially trusted code, so you should be an administrator or add a manifest to your application with “requireadministrator” set.

Now that our ManagementObject is set to an instance of the application we want to uninstall we need to invoke the Win32_Product class' “Uninstall”. Above I demonstrated on how to call this synchronous method (the second parameter in InvokeMethod() is to pass any parameters, which "Uninstall" takes nothing, thus null... There are several more overloads). Cast hr to a boolean value to get the results returned.

That's it!

Take note that the attached code contains a BackgroundWorker that prevents the UI locking up during the WMI search (which I do not cover here), yes, this search is resource intensive and may take a bit to list applications depending on your system specs...

Points of interest

After facing trial and error I have successfully used this code in my own personal projects to uninstall my applications during certain update scenarios… I have found this method more reliable than looking for registry keys that contain the applications Uninstall string.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Software Developer (Senior) Electronic Vision Access Solutions
United States United States
I currently develop software for people with disabilities. I enjoy my job and the chance to help others that aren’t as capable as most of us. I have been using .Net since it first debuted with 1.0, my favorite language out of the suite is C# of course. I have been using C++ and MFC for over 8 years and have just recently learned C++/CLI. I'm a pretty fast learner at picking up new languages. Besides my lifestyle as a developer I enjoy spending time with my wife and 2 kids, they are my world!

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 4 Pin
Member 1182679028-Apr-16 0:43
memberMember 1182679028-Apr-16 0:43 
QuestionNot work with Windows XP Pin
Bob Stoom31-Jan-16 21:36
professionalBob Stoom31-Jan-16 21:36 
QuestionNot Uninstalling any application. Pin
Member 1003106715-Mar-15 6:04
memberMember 1003106715-Mar-15 6:04 
QuestionHow to not silent to uninstall programs like Windows Uninstaller? Pin
stevenyoung11-Jan-15 15:51
memberstevenyoung11-Jan-15 15:51 
Questionerror Pin
Member 112989559-Dec-14 13:36
memberMember 112989559-Dec-14 13:36 
QuestionBut how to achieve it in mfc??? Pin
Member 1105203730-Oct-14 1:18
memberMember 1105203730-Oct-14 1:18 
QuestionExcellent Pin
navhin10-Apr-14 23:24
membernavhin10-Apr-14 23:24 
GeneralExcellent Pin
Aster Veigas1-Aug-13 21:01
memberAster Veigas1-Aug-13 21:01 
QuestionThanks for the code it looks pretty well written... Pin
Member 986382426-Feb-13 15:03
memberMember 986382426-Feb-13 15:03 
AnswerRe: Thanks for the code it looks pretty well written... Pin
programmerdon1-Mar-13 10:11
memberprogrammerdon1-Mar-13 10:11 
GeneralRe: Thanks for the code it looks pretty well written... Pin
Member 98638241-Mar-13 11:45
memberMember 98638241-Mar-13 11:45 
GeneralMy vote of 4 Pin
Christian Amado23-Aug-12 7:09
memberChristian Amado23-Aug-12 7:09 
QuestionNot uninstalling in windows 7 "C:\Program Files (x86)" location Pin
Ravindra.P.C30-Jul-12 21:13
memberRavindra.P.C30-Jul-12 21:13 
GeneralRe: Not uninstalling in windows 7 "C:\Program Files (x86)" location Pin
programmerdon31-Jul-12 3:10
memberprogrammerdon31-Jul-12 3:10 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Carsten V2.025-Jul-12 18:33
memberCarsten V2.025-Jul-12 18:33 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 Pin
programmerdon26-Jul-12 3:09
memberprogrammerdon26-Jul-12 3:09 
Generalwell written Pin
darcaro25-Jul-12 10:29
memberdarcaro25-Jul-12 10:29 
GeneralRe: well written Pin
programmerdon25-Jul-12 10:30
memberprogrammerdon25-Jul-12 10:30 

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