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  • Removing built-in Apps from Win10 2004/20H2/21H1

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 10 Removing built-in Apps from Win10 2004/20H2/21H1

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      • #2372689
        PKCano
        Manager

        Purpose
        I am currently running a combination of up-to-date Win10 Pro versions 20H2 and 21H1. Although I do not like Microsoft’s continued collection of what I consider personal data, removing the telemetry is not the main purpose of this exercise.

        Microsoft includes, by default, a large number of its UWP Apps in Win10. These Apps not only take up storage space on the computer but constantly use bandwidth and computer resources to report their activity to Microsoft, communicate with each other, update themselves (unless the Store is placed on manual update), etc.
        I use NONE of them, including Edge.

        So, the main purpose here is to unload these unnecessary Microsoft Apps.
        Others have mentioned removing the Apps, but I have not seen the “How-to” posted on AskWoody.
        Although some of the telemetry is reduced in the process, I use other methods for reducing the telemetry farther. You can’t really eliminate the telemetry altogether without extreme effort.

        Methods
        I have tried not to use third-party removers. Because I want to know what changes have been made (and how to reverse them if necessary), Too many times third-party blockers/removers are uninstalled leaving behind their unknown settings to complicate matters. I have tried to use Microsoft’s own tools against it in order to achieve the results.

        In the removal process, I have used Administrative PowerShell, Administrative Command Prompt, RegEdit, Group Policy (Pro only), Task Scheduler, Task Manager, Services, Settings App, Control Panel, and simple deletion.

        I use Open Shell (previously Classic Shell) as a menu system, since I do not use/need any of the “tile” apps. But, with the UWP Apps removed, the built-in menu system will also work as well. The other benefits of Open Shell are to provide Search not connected to Bing/Cortana, configuration of the File Explorer interface, and easy access to some of the older areas of system controls.

        It is recommended that certain Apps NOT be uninstalled. The Microsoft Store is at the top of that list. I have also left the Feedback Hub, App Installer and some Extensions. Leaving Get Help, Snip & Sketch, Camera and Voice Recorder was a personal choice. I have used O&O AppBuster (Portable, does not install) simply to show what is left, not as a removal tool.
        I was unable to remove all of the XBOX suite and ended with the four remaining Services disabled. You will also need other than the general method to remove Edge.

        OOAppBuster

        ***********
        ***********
        Disclaimer
        : Before you try any of this, be sure you have a full disk image backup and a separate file backup of your User data. If you have problems, you will need a fallback. It is also advisable to document any other changes you make to the settings.
        My four test installations have been through several Patch Tuesday monthly updates plus upgrades from v20H2 to v21H1 without failure. No guarantees on the move from Win10 to Win11.

        8 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2372696
        PKCano
        Manager

        App Removal
        There are several steps prior to the removal of the UWP Apps.
        + Run in the background should be turned OFF (Settings App\Privacy\Background Apps) for ones to be removed.
        + Run on Startup should be turned OFF/Disabled (Task Manager\Startup tab)
        + “Live tiles” should be turned OFF (Start Menu)
        + Uninstall the App from the Menu using the tile or “All Apps” menu if possible and/or unpin/remove the tile from the Menu Flyout.
        + Microsoft Store App – click on “…” in the upper right corner. Choose Settings and turn OFF “Update apps automatically,” “Live Tile,” “Video Autoplay,” and “Xbox App.”

        I have used information from TenForums.com as a reference for the PowerShell and Command Prompt commands. Caution: Check the commands before use. The syntax of some of the commands is entered incorrectly. See TenForum’s Tutorial on uninstalling Win10 Apps.

        + Create a list of the installed Apps using Admin PowerShell, then copy/paste it to Notepad or other Text Editor.

        Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers | Select Name, PackageFullName

        This command will copy the list to a Text file on the Desktop for you

        Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers | Select Name, PackageFullName >"$env:userprofile\Desktop\InstalledApps.txt"

        + Download O&O AppBuster (or portable s/w of your choice) and place it on the Desktop to compare the list of installed Apps with the PowerShell list. This will give you an idea of what to remove and what is left.
        + Use this command format in Admin Powershell (replacing Microsoft.Zune.Music with each successive App) to remove individual Apps from the computer. If you omit the “-Allusers” switch, it removes the App only for the current user. You can also use the “*” wildcard in App names.

        Get-appxpackage -allusers *Microsoft.ZuneMusic* | Remove-AppxPackage

        +  Prevent the Apps from installing for future Users, I used the the Admin Command Prompt (again replacing Microsoft.Zune.Music with each successive App). I could not get the PowerShell version of the command to work, but I am not versed in PowerShell. This is the format for the Admin Command Prompt

        powershell -command "Get-appxprovisionedpackage –online | where-object {$_.packagename –like '*Microsoft.ZuneMusic*'} | remove-appxprovisionedpackage –online"

        + Using the “-online” command Deprovisions the Apps. It automatically creates a Registry entry key for each of those deprovisioned Apps, which can be used to verify removal, at
        HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Appx\AppxAllUserStore\Deprovisioned

        DeprovisionedApps

        Removing XBOX
        + In Settings App\Gaming turn off all settings related to XBOX.
        + Try removing XBOX components (XBOXGameOverlay, XBOXApp, XBOXIdentityProvider, XBOXOneSmartGlass, XBOXSpeechToTextOverlay, Xbox.TCUI) the same way other components are removed. For the local removal in PowerShell, some will appear to be removed, some will give a red error message. For the “-online” removal in Command Prompt, if there is no False/True message following the command, it did nothing, was not successful.
        + Disable the remaining Services in Services. After running the commands, XBOX disappears from the removable Apps in O&O AppBuster, but four Services remain. Go to Services and disable XBOX Accessory Management Service, XBOX Live Auth Manager, XBOX Game Save, and XBOX Live Networking Service.

        Removing Chromium Edge
        + Locate the Chromium Edge setup.exe file and note the Edge version number. C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\Edge\Application\<current version of Edge>\Installer
        + Open an Admin Command Prompt and copy/paste this command to the default C:\Windows\System32 prompt. Substitute your current version of Edge for “89.0.774.68.”

        "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\Edge\Application\89.0.774.68\Installer\setup.exe" -uninstall -system-level -verbose-logging -force-uninstall

        Note of Caution: The first instructions I saw for the removal said to execute the command from the folder where Edge setup.exe file resides. If you do this, the Edge browser is removed, but the file structure under C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\Edge is not removed because it is in use. If the file structure is NOT REMOVED, it will cause the next Win10 update to fail with error code 0x800f0922.
        + In RegEdit.exe, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft.
        Right-click the Microsoft (folder) key, select New, and click on Key. Name the key EdgeUpdate and press Enter.
        Right-click the newly created key, select New, and click on DWORD (32-bit) Value. (creates new DWORD)
        Name the DWORD DoNotUpdateToEdgeWithChromium and press Enter.
        Double-click the newly created DWORD and change the value from 0 to 1.
        Click OK.
        + Create a Group Policy setting in GPEdit.exe (Pro only).
        Download Microsoft Edge Blocker Toolkit and save it to a folder on your Desktop.
        Double click on the file and extract it to that folder (use “browse” to find the path).
        Copy EdgeChromium_Blocker.admx to C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions
        Copy EdgeChromium_Blocker.adml to C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions\en-us
        In Group Policy (gpedit.exe) navigate to /Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Windows Components/Windows Update/Microsoft Edge (Chromium-based) Blockers. Set Do not allow delivery of Microsoft Edge (Chromium Based) through automatic updates = Enabled.

        5 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2372699
        PKCano
        Manager

        Other settings

        I have used settings in Services, Task Scheduler, Task Manager, Settings App, the Registry, and Group Policy (Pro only) to manage Win10 Apps. Some of these settings deal with privacy/telemetry, as well as App control. This is a list of some of them. I highly recommend you document any changes you make in the event you need to reverse them.

        Services:
        + Disable XBOX Services – Four Services mentioned above – after attempting removal with PowerShell & Command Prompt.
        + Disable Connected User Experience & Telemetry (DiagTrack)

        Task Scheduler:
        + Under Task Scheduler Library\Microsoft\Windows\ Disable then Delete tasks under \Application Experience, \Autocheck, and \Customer Experience Improvement Program
        Some of these may be restored with Updates/Upgrades. If so, try disabling the ones that return, but don’t keep fighting Microsoft.

        Task Manager:
        + Open Task Manager to the Startup tab. Disable the Startup of any of the items you have not been able to remove.

        Settings App:
        APPS
        + Apps\Default Apps Set Default Apps of your choice
        + Apps\Default Apps\”Set default apps by file type” Run through the list looking for UWP apps and change the default association to your chosen program. Example: Change .pdf default from Edge to your chosen PDF Reader.
        PRIVACY
        The settings here, for the most part, deal with the UWP Apps, not the third-party programs you have installed. Read the top section of each category carefully and decide whether you want to leave the function ON or OFF. When you see “Allow Apps to access,” it is referring to UWP Apps (see that the list is UWP). You can turn OFF access for individual Apps, or turn OFF access for the entire UWP list.
        + Privacy\Windows permissions\Diagnostics & Feedback The best you can do with this setting is allow Basic
        + Privacy\App permissions\Background Apps Pay particular attention here. Apps running in the background use the computer’s resources. You can prevent individual Apps from running in the background, or you can turn the entire feature OFF (at the top).

        Registry Settings.
        Disclaimer: If done incorrectly, making changes to the Registry can adversely affect the operation of your computer. It is highly recommended that you backup the Registry, and separately any specific keys, before you start. If the keys and DWORDs do not exist, create them.
        Some of these settings may no longer be recognized by Microsoft, but I have left them in place.
        + HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\EdgeUpdate DWORD DoNotUpdateToEdgeWithChromium VALUE = 1
        + HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search (notice space between Windows and Search)
        DWORD AllowCortana = 0
        DWORD AllowCortantAboveLock = 0
        DWORD AllowSearchToUseLocation = 0
        DWORD AllowSearchToUseWeb = 0
        DWORD ConnectedSearchToUseWeb = 0
        DWORD DisableWebSearch = 1
        + HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Feeds
        DWORD ShellFeedsTaskbarViewMode = 0 (Show icon and text) or 1 (Show only icon) or 2 (Hide everything)
        + HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search
        DWORD BingSearchEnabled = 0
        DWORD CanCortanaBeEnabled = 0
        DWORD CortanaConsent = 0
        + HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
        DWORD ShowSyncProviderNotifications = 0

        Group Policy Settings (Win10 Pro only)
        Under Local Computer Policy\Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Compoents\
        + Microsoft Edge\
        Allow Microsoft Edge to pre-launch at Windows startup, when the system is idle, and each time Microsoft Edge is closed = Disabled
        Allow Microsoft Edge to start and load the Start and New Tab page at Windows startup and each time Microsoft Edge is closed = Disabled
        + News and interests\
        Enable News and interests on the taskbar = Disabled
        + OneDrive\
        Save documents to OneDrive by default = Disabled
        Prevent the usage of OneDrive for file storage = Enabled
        + Search\
        Allow Cortana = Disabled
        Allow Cortana above lock screen = Disabled
        Do not allow web search = Enabled
        + Windows Update\Microsoft Edge (Chromium-Based) Blockers\ (This policy created above Removing Chromium Edge)
        Do not allow delivery of Microsoft Edge (Chromium-Based) through Automatic Updates = Enabled

        8 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2373561
        PKCano
        Manager

        I have attached Complete-AppRemoval-List.txt to the second section of this thread.
        The commands may make life easier during the operation.
        Please read through the NOTES before you use it.

        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2372721
        Susan Bradley
        Manager

        Thanks for all of your hard work. In addition to “I highly recommend you document any changes you make in the event you need to reverse them” I’d add to that ensure that you have a good backup each month and be a bit cautious when you patch. I guarantee you that Microsoft does not test in this configuration.

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady

        • #2372724
          PKCano
          Manager

          So far, the four test installations have been through several months of CU updates plus upgrades from v20H2 to v21H1 without problems or loss of settings. I’ve been holding up posting this till I was fairly certain it works.
          Of course, there are no guarantees on the move from Win10 to “Win11” (?) in the upcoming months.

          I have loaded these installations with third-party programs (Open Shell, Firefox, Waterfox, Thunderbird, Libre Office, Acrobat Reader, Irfanview, VLC Player, HP and Brother printer software, an old copy of HP Photosmart Essentials, CDBurner XPPro, Speccy, etc) and it tops out at about 20-21GB.

          2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2372733
        Sandro
        AskWoody Lounger

        I always wanted a safe way to create a generic, clean Win10 Virtual Machine without resorting to esoteric tools. Thanks @PKCano!

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2372742
        Cee Arr
        AskWoody Plus

        As always @PKCano this is the nitty gritty I have been waiting for from this web site. Very well written and explained.  Expert information from an expert – well done. All I have to do is get it done. Thank you.

        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2372790
        anonymous
        Guest

        Try Windows10Debloater, it shows you what it’s doing and has been around for years.

        https://github.com/Sycnex/Windows10Debloater

        I’m not sure how far any attempt will go in Home but in Pro and Enterprise, it’s quite possible to strip Windows down to a nice OS and keep it that way, even after updates.  Home is an ad server, best you might be able to do is run startup scripts and hope the OS doesn’t delete them.  The upcharge to Pro is more than worth it just for gpedit.

        Manual removal is possible via the Modifiable Apps Folder, same as you can remove drivers from the Driver Store.  But…you need to take ownership, maybe for registry keys, too, maybe remove ALL security for the files (have a restore default ownership utility ready), maybe activate the Superadmin account,  to be complete.  Not newbie stuff.  Defender will try to block your efforts.

        You can remove/rename/scramble apps such as the Store but depending on what you do, updates, your account, app downloads (graphics gui’s) won’t work.  Definitely make restore points before any change and document what you did, paths and settings.  Years ago, I went nilly willy resulting in quite a few reinstalls.

        For excellent insight into which registry changes do what, winaerotweaker is superb.  You don’t have to use the utility, just read what each setting does.  One of the softwares I donate to and there aren’t many.  Actually, do use it, the portable version!

        https://winaero.com/the-list-of-winaero-tweaker-features/

        —-TLDR, in a way—-

        Yeah, Open Shell Menu makes Windows usable again.  If you right click on an App in the menu, there’s the usual option to uninstall it that disables it.  That’s one of the things I do (it’s easy) along  with blocking apps in the firewall (updates will reset some unless done offline, diag tracking, e.g. is needed to do live updates.)  Along with any gpedit changes, disabling services, scheduled tasks and using a slim 3rd party AV (not internet suite) that’s it for the OS.  You don’t really need to remove apps, just hobble the ones you never use.

        For smooth browsing, Firefox ESR with about:config tweaks and AdGuard System level, not the browser extension, work very well.  The typical increasing number of Chromia roadblocks encountered with extended sessions don’t occur.  FF profiles can be saved and moved to other machines, huge time saver.

        Takes the better part of a day and modest investments in software to do everything needed to make Windows smooth and fast, no utility I’ve encountered does it all.

        MAKE RESTORE POINTS!

        🙂

        • #2372796
          PKCano
          Manager

          I have tried not to use third-party removers. Because I want to know what changes have been made (and how to reverse them if necessary), Too many times third-party blockers/removers are uninstalled leaving behind their unknown settings to complicate matters. I have tried to use Microsoft’s own tools against it in order to achieve the results.

          You never really know what the third-party removers do.
          This thread is about using Windows OWN tools.
          It is NOT about using third-party removal tools to do the removing.

          2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2373574
        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        Great stuff PK, Nice investigation, surgery and explanation, TOP post once again! 🙂
        just what members and anons want to read about and perhaps try out.
        As you well know, I tested this whilst on 20H2 and can verify that these changes held over a FU to 21H1 and June’s CU patch (W10 pro version)..result!

        | Quality over Quantity |
        3 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2377857
          Microfix
          AskWoody MVP

          another month’s CU and still no ChrEdge or removed crApps!

          winver

          | Quality over Quantity |
      • #2374236
        AlexEiffel
        AskWoody_MVP

        Great post, thanks PKCano.

        I did the same thing a long time ago on 1607 or before using Windows built-in tools only and I didn’t run into any problem after updating many times. I often ended up with less privacy invading and marketing issues than some users reported after feature updates, probably due to some group policy settings having an effect on what gets installed and set.

        From memory, I am not sure -allusers does what you say it does. It might list for all users, but I am not sure the delete deletes it for all users, it tries to delete what is listed, but the delete applies to the current running user. I might have posted my procedure a long time ago and maybe wrote about that. It might work like the pipe in Linux where you get a listing for all users, then you send it to the other command to delete what is listed but the other command only run for the current user. I remember having to log into each account to first delete the apps in all accounts before being able to deprovision them when there was multiple accounts with different apps installed. I thought -allusers did the job but ended up understanding it didn’t and I had to dig to understand how Microsoft made it so difficult to get rid of these annoyances.

         

        4 users thanked author for this post.
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