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How to Remove Bloatware from New Windows Laptops

Is your new Windows laptop loaded with bloatware? Learn what bloatware is, how to safely remove it with Windows Settings and PowerShell, prevent it from returning, and optimize your PC.

How to Remove Bloatware from New Windows Laptops

When you first boot up a brand new Windows laptop, you expect a clean, speedy, and bloat-free experience. Unfortunately, many PCs come pre-loaded with unwanted software, commonly referred to as "bloatware". While it may not seem like a big deal initially, bloatware can have some significant downsides.

What Qualifies as Bloatware?

Bloatware refers to any pre-installed software on a new computer that users generally don't want. Common examples include:

  • Trial versions of paid antivirus suites trying to get you to upgrade
  • Various utility apps like video editors and file managers
  • An assortment of "free" games, most of which are low quality
  • Promotional apps for computer manufacturer products

You'll also find web browser toolbars, marginally useful desktop widgets, and other types of programs that don't really enhance your experience. These all consume storage space and system resources.

The Impact of Bloatware

So what's the actual harm of having some extra programs you don't use on your PC? Here are some potential issues bloatware can cause:

  • Takes up a chunk of your storage space unnecessarily
  • Consumes RAM which leads to worse overall performance
  • Causes annoying pop-ups and notifications
  • Loads on boot, slowing down startup time
  • Some programs run constantly in the background further taxing resources
  • Pre-installed antivirus trials nag you and slow things down until you pay up
  • Too many desktop shortcuts and Start Menu icons clutter things up

Over time, a Windows laptop loaded with bloatware will feel much more sluggish compared to a clean installation. This leads to frustration for users who just want a smoothly functioning new computer.

Why Do Manufacturers Include Bloatware?

If bloatware only hurts the user experience, why do manufacturers cram it full of unwanted software? There are two key reasons:

  1. Revenue from software companies
  2. Lower retail pricing

Computer makers are paid by software vendors to pre-install programs on their new PCs. The software vendor gets a new potential customer, while the PC company gets a bit of revenue to help offset manufacturing costs.

This allows PC retailers to advertise lower prices to move more volume. Of course, the true cost to the customer comes later in the form of bloatware annoyances and wasted storage.

Now that you understand what bloatware is and how it impacts your Windows laptop, let's explore the various methods for removing it.

Finding and Removing Bloatware in Windows Settings

Now that you know what bloatware is, let's get down to business and start deleting those useless programs!

The good news is Windows Settings gives you an easy way to uninstall apps directly, no extra tools required. Here's a simple step-by-step guide to hunt down bloatware and banish it from your system for good.

Accessing "Apps & Features"

The first step is accessing the Apps & Features menu where you can see all programs installed on your Windows laptop:

  1. Click the Start Menu and select the settings gear icon to open Windows Settings
  2. Click on Apps
  3. Select Apps & features or now it's called Installed apps from the left side menu. Or simply click this link Check installed apps

You should now see a list of all apps, drivers, and software installed on your PC.

Identify and Analyze Bloatware

Now it's time to inspect this list and identify any potential bloatware.

We recommend first sorting by install date which easily separates newer software that likely came pre-installed on your laptop:

  • Click the "Sort by" column header and select "Date installed" to sort by most recent
Sort by Date installed
Sort by Date installed

Programs that came on your new computer will group near the top.

Scan through this list looking for things like:

  • Trial antivirus apps
  • Utility programs you don't need
  • Games you have no interest in
  • Any other unfamiliar software

Make sure you don't uninstall anything important like hardware drivers, so do your research if you're unsure about a particular app.

Uninstalling Bloatware

Once you've identified your target bloatware apps, uninstalling them is simple:

  • Click on the three-dot icon button of the application you want to remove
  • Select Uninstall
  • Click Uninstall again on the confirmation prompt

And just like that - one piece of bloatware down!

Uninstall apps
Uninstall apps

Repeat this process for every unwanted app you flagged.

Removing Taskbar and Start Menu Clutter

In addition to uninstalling unwanted programs, you should also clean up your Start Menu and taskbar for a bloat-free experience.

Right click on any app shortcuts or pinned items you don't need and select Unpin from Start or Unpin from taskbar.

You'll be left with a clean taskbar containing only the apps you actually use regularly.

Celebrate Your Bloat-Free Laptop!

After following these steps, your Windows laptop should now be bloat-free and feel much cleaner.

While it may not be a dramatic difference on modern hardware, eliminating bloatware optimizes your system and improves the overall user experience.

Pat yourself on the back - you've successfully de-bloated your new computer. Time to enjoy that crisp, bloat-free Windows experience.

Customizing What to Remove

In the previous section, we discussed hunting down and uninstalling obvious bloatware like antivirus trials and random utility apps. However, not all pre-installed software should necessarily get purged right away.

Evaluating Each App

Rather than blindly deleting every single unfamiliar program, it's important to evaluate each one and decide if it provides value to you or not.

For example, your Windows laptop may come with:

  • Microsoft Office apps
  • Manufacturer-specific hardware utilities
  • A media player like VLC or iTunes
  • Gaming services like Steam or Epic Games Launcher

These types of programs may be useful to keep if you plan to use them.

Microsoft 365 apps | Source: Microsoft
Microsoft 365 apps | Source: Microsoft

Don't go on a rampage deleting everything in sight without careful consideration!

Start Menu Shortcuts vs Full Installs

Another key factor is whether an app pinned to your Start Menu is fully installed or just a shortcut.

Many pre-installed games and social media apps like Facebook only place a shortcut in your Start Menu.

The actual app doesn't get downloaded until you click the shortcut, which triggers the install.

You can safely remove these without uninstalling anything, as it's just eliminating a shortcut link.

Analyze Your Needs

Do some self-reflection about your usage habits and needs when deciding what to remove.

✔ Keep useful utilities like media players, Office apps, etc.

✔ Delete trials, unnecessary toolbars, widgets

✔ Remove shortcut links for apps you definitely won't use

✔ Don't blindly delete everything unfamiliar!

Taking the time to customize the removal process avoids deleting software you may actually find helpful down the road.

The goal is to remove bloatware - not ALL pre-installed software indiscriminately. With some prudent app analysis, you can craft the optimal bloat-free Windows experience.

Using Dedicated De-Bloating Tools

Manually uninstalling bloatware through Windows Settings works great, but it can be a tedious process. Lucky for you, there are dedicated PC cleaning utilities that can automate the de-bloating process.

Automated Bloatware Removal

Tools like PC Decrapifier and CCleaner maintain databases of common bloatware programs.

They can scan your computer and detect which ones are installed, removing them automatically with just a few clicks.

This saves you the hassle of manually analyzing and uninstalling each piece of bloatware.

CCleaner | Source: CCleaner
CCleaner | Source: CCleaner

Pros of Automated Cleaners

Dedicated de-bloating utilities offer some great benefits:

  • Saves time by automatically detecting and removing bloatware
  • Provides centralized management for cleaning multiple PCs
  • Can detect bloatware that doesn't appear in Add/Remove Programs
  • User-friendly interfaces simplify the cleaning process

For those looking to optimize and clean multiple computers, these tools can be a real timesaver.

Potential Drawbacks

However, there are some downsides to weigh as well:

  • Paid software with recurring subscriptions
  • Could delete useful programs if not configured properly
  • Requires downloading and installing untrusted software
  • Not as transparent as manually uninstalling apps yourself

Make sure to do your due diligence vetting any third-party utilities before running them on your system.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

At the end of the day, whether to use an automated cleaner comes down to personal preference. They provide convenience at the cost of some control.

  • If you only need to de-bloat a single PC, manual removal may suffice
  • For IT teams with many systems to optimize, a de-bloating tool can greatly accelerate the process

Evaluate your specific needs to decide if the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to dedicated software.

Leveraging PowerShell for Advanced De-Bloating

For the uninitiated, PowerShell is a powerful scripting language built into Windows. It allows executing commands and automating tasks through code rather than clickable interfaces.

Think of it as the "command line on steroids"! While learning PowerShell takes some effort, it offers immense control over optimizing your PC.

Here's a quick guide to get started with PowerShell de-bloating:

Accessing PowerShell

The first step is you'll need to call up PowerShell on your Windows machine. Look for "PowerShell" in the Start menu search bar, right-click the result, and open it as an administrator.

Windows PowerShell (Run as administrator)
Windows PowerShell (Run as administrator)

Listing Installed Packages

Once the PowerShell window appears, it's time to start using commands.

Run the following command in an elevated PowerShell prompt and hitting Enter key:

Get-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage command output
Get-AppxPackage command output

Or you can also use this command:

Get-AppxPackage | Select Name, PackageFullName
Get-AppxPackage | Select Name, PackageFullName command output
Get-AppxPackage | Select Name, PackageFullName command output

This will output all appsdrivers, and other programs on your PC.

Now you can inspect this list and identify any potential bloatware.

Uninstall the Apps and Packages

Now you can feed those app names into a simple one-line command to uninstall them. It will look like:

Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers *Name* | Remove-AppxPackage

For example, run this command to remove a fictional bloatware app called 5319275A.WhatsAppDesktop:

Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers *5319275A.WhatsAppDesktop* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers *Name* | Remove-AppxPackage command output
Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers *Name* | Remove-AppxPackage command output

Simply replace "5319275A.WhatsApp Desktop" with the package name in the list.

You can pack multiple uninstall commands into a script to automate the entire de-bloating process!

No more tedious manual clicking.

Additional Optimization

Besides removing bloatware, PowerShell allows configuring other Windows optimizations like:

  • Disabling unnecessary features like Cortana
  • Customizing taskbar layout
  • Tweaking performance and privacy settings
  • Automating everything to run on new user accounts

The possibilities are endless for gurus proficient with PowerShell scripts!

Downsides of PowerShell

There are a few cautions to note with scripted PowerShell de-bloating:

  • Steeper learning curve than GUI tools
  • Requires manually creating scripts or copy-pasting from websites
  • Potential to cause issues if you run malicious scripts
  • Changes impact entire machine including all user profiles

As with any powerful tool, make sure you test thoroughly and proceed with care.

Best of Both Worlds

To get the maximum de-bloating benefits, we recommend using a combination of methods:

  1. Manually uninstall obvious bloatware through Settings
  2. Run trusted PowerShell scripts to automate advanced tasks
  3. Configure scripts to run automatically on any new PCs

Employing both graphical and command line interfaces gives you simplicity, customization, automation, and control over your Windows bloatware removal.

Leveraging Command Prompt for De-Bloating

In addition to PowerShell, the Command Prompt tool also allows you to uninstall programs via the command line.

Opening Elevated Command Prompt

  1. Search for "Command Prompt" in the Start menu.
  2. Right click the result and choose "Run as administrator".
  3. This opens CMD with admin rights needed for uninstalls.
Command Prompt (Run as administrator)
Command Prompt (Run as administrator)

or

  1. Use the Windows logo key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run dialog box
  2. Type "cmd" and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter.
  3. This opens CMD with admin rights needed for uninstalls.

Using Commands to Remove Bloatware

  1. Type "wmic" and press Enter.
  2. Next type "product get name" and press Enter.
  3. This lists all installed programs. Identify the bloatware app names.
  4. Type "product where name="Name" call uninstall". Replace Name with the bloatware.
  5. Press Enter key.
  6. Confirm uninstallation by typing "Y" and pressing Enter.
  7. Repeat for other bloatware using the app names.
product get name command output
product get name command output

The steps may be slightly different from PowerShell but achieve the same result

Preventing Bloatware from Returning

You finally achieved a perfectly optimized bloat-free Windows laptop. But before you get too comfortable, there's one potential issue - bloatware creeping its way back onto your system!

Fortunately, with the right strategies, you can prevent bloatware from reappearing and ruining your pristine PC.

Windows Updates Reinstall Bloatware

After removing pre-installed software on your new laptop, Windows Update may try to add some of it back.

Manufacturers often make deals with Microsoft to have bloatware distributed through Windows Update. Sneaky!

So even if you already uninstalled those programs, they could return after future system updates.

Use Group Policy to Block Bloatware

To stop this from happening, you can use Group Policy Editor to permanently block bloatware applications or installation behaviors.

Some examples of useful policies:

Group Policy tweaks apply across all user accounts and are rarely overridden by updates.

Scripts to Prevent Reinstallation

For advanced users, PowerShell scripts can automatically configure policies and registry settings to prohibit bloatware reappearing after updates.

Run these scripts after initial de-bloating and they'll keep your system lean over time.

Sysprep for Clean Windows Images

Finally, IT pros can use Sysprep to build a master Windows image with bloatware removed and desired policies enforced.

Deploying this standardized system image to new PCs ensures they remain perfectly debloated from day one!

Stay Vigilant!

While no single method can prevent bloatware indefinitely, staying vigilant can help you maintain an almost permanently bloat-free Windows laptop.

So stay vigilant by:

  • Keep an eye out for newly installed software after Windows Updates.
  • Periodically re-run your debloating scripts
  • keep your standard image updated.

With some savvy tweaks and ongoing diligence, you can prevent most bloatware from creeping back onto your system.

WATAFAQ

What's the easiest way to remove bloatware from a new Windows laptop?

The simplest method is using the Settings app. Go to Apps & Features, sort by recent install date, and uninstall any unwanted programs. Just a few clicks and that bloatware is gone for good!

Will a clean install of Windows completely remove all bloatware?

Yes, doing a fresh Windows 10 or 11 setup using installation media is the only way to completely wipe out 100% of pre-installed bloatware. Manufacturer recovery partitions will just reinstall all the junk.

Should I keep or uninstall pre-installed antivirus software?

Absolutely feel free to uninstall resource-hogging third party antivirus trials. Windows Security provides reliable protection for most users.

Can I delete bloatware that doesn't appear in Apps & Features?

Those are likely just Start Menu shortcuts, not full installs. You can safely remove them by right-clicking and selecting Unpin from Start.

Why does bloatware keep coming back after I already uninstalled it?

Windows Updates may reinstall bloatware. You'll need to use Group Policy or scripts to block this behavior. Check the prevention tips in this guide.

And that wraps up the key questions around banishing bloatware for good! Still have any other burning questions? Let us know in the comments.

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