Add/Remove Programs Missing Programs

By the grip
Dec 22, 2008
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  1. I have no idea how I did this, but here goes.

    My Add/Remove Programs is missing Programs that I have in my startup menu. So I go to the startup and try to open one. error: "This action is only valid for products that are currently installed". So of course I start freaking, but if I go under my C:Drive to program files there all there. This was like Microsoft Office (all of them Word, Excel, Powerpoint, ect) and then there were others that I wasn't worried about like Abbyy Fine Reader.

    Where did they go and how did I lose them from the program list. Also I still have all of their icons listed in my startup menu I just can't open them.

    If anyone can help me fix this problem I would appreciate it.
    By the way, I'm running Windows XP SP3 on a Dell inspiron 1100.
  2. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,392   +32

    You have all the programs> they are listed in All Programs.
    You can't see them all in the Add/remove Programs sections of the Control Panel> this is normal.

    Some contradiction here: between the Control Panel and All Programs:
    First, understand that these two sections do no necessarily 'match.'

    Second, there may be some icons showing in Add/Remove Programs that are 'left over' from an uninstall, or may possibly be an entry put on by the manufacturer.
    To remove the 'trash:
    Use the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility. It is a small download that you Save to the desktop> double click to run (install). Once done, open the program> locate the entries> highlight and remove.
    http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;290301

    To verify the presence of the programs:
    Right click on Start> Explore> Programs:
    This should be a full list of all the programs on the system> if you are missing a shortcut to any on the Start menu:
    Click on the program in the left pane> find the .exe file on the right> right click on the .exe file> Send to> Desktop to create a shortcut.

    Once done, you can pin the shortcut to the start menu or you can drag it to the quick Launch Toolbar.

    If I haven't addressed the problems, please clarify.
  3. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,267   +149

    1. When you say "in my startup menu" i want to be certain: You mean you are missing programs you see by clicking Start->All Programs menu? Cuz there is something called your startup menu and pretty sure this isn't what you mean. Please clarify

    2. Just fyi.. When something uses Windows Installer to get installed on your computer it is only visible in Add/Remove programs if it wants to be. (Microsoft allows installed programs to control this option themselves as to whether MS will show it when it displays Add/Remove Programs. Again, another reason not to expect a 1-1 match

    3. A program is simply an executable program that can run on your computer. You can download and install many simple programs (that only require maybe one or two files for example) and they don't use (or need) the Windows Installer function. Add/Remove program entries are only created when using the Windows installer to install something.

    4. What you see on All Programs menu are "shortcuts" to programs. That is, the actual program is stored somewhere on the disk (typically under C:\Program Files but not a requirement they store themselves there). And the menu is a shortcut that points to a Program.
    ==> Sometimes these shortcuts don't get deleted or even updated if you reinstall a program which has now moved and shortcut still points to OLD location (now empty)
    ==> Try Start->All Programs and pick a program you want BUT right-click (not left-click) and choose Properties. You now see the shortcut
    => Click the Shortcut tab and look at what it says for Target: This is the target location the shortcut is pointing to
    => See the Find Target button in that shortcut as well? Click it. It takes you to the target. If it exists it opens an Explorer window into the target file's parent directory. If it doesn't exist, it will say it's searching for it. You can intterupt it and manually reassign the target if you want.

    Final note: Some special shortcuts have Target field and Find Target button dimmed. IF you see this case, you'll have to find the target files the old fashioned way and can't use the shortcut to help
  4. the grip

    the grip Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 47

    re: Thank you

    thank you for all your help and suggestions. It was when I clicked Control Panel - Add Remove Programs.
    The problem that I had must have happened when uninstalling a program on my computer. For some reason I could not see my Microsoft Office products in Add/Remove Programs. When I would go to start/All Programs and see the Microsoft Office Folder I could open it and see all the Programs listed ie...Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, but when I clicked on any I got an error message that the action could only be done by a program that was installed.

    Since I felt this was a problem create by a program that was installed and then uninstalled I figured there were probably more that I didn't see yet. I had recently done a backup on my whole system using Acronis True Image 2009 so I just reinstalled the backup and now everything is working perfectly.

    Thanks again.
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