how to make an uninstaller on windows

im writing my own installer for windows and im wondering how i can let windows know what file to run in order to uninstall the installed program.

so, for example, if you go to your control panel and press the "remove a program" button, it comes up with a big list of programs, that is installed on your computer, which you can double click on to uninstall.

how would i go about getting my program in there?

do i make an uninstall.exe file and place it in a special folder or what?
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Windows Installer has command line options for uninstalling a program.
OP says he is writing his own installer, not using Windows Installer.

You need to register your uninstaller with Windows. Specifically, you'll have to add your application to the registry


Create a new unique key. Many applications create a GUID, but the (unique) name of your app is fine.


Under your app's key, create a REG_SZ value called "UninstallString" with the full path to your application's uninstaller, plus any command-line arguments (if needed).

Other useful values are:

  DisplayIcon      REG_SZ "C:\Program Files (x86)\RRabits\rrabbits.exe"
  DisplayName      REG_SZ "Rabid Rabbits"
  DisplayVersion   REG_SZ "Version 3.14 AKA Easter Bunny Pellets"
  HelpLink         REG_SZ "http://some.url"
  InstallLocation  REG_SZ "C:\Program Files (x86)\RRabbits"
  Publisher        REG_SZ "Stav Industries Inc"
  VersionMajor     REG_DWORD 3
  VersionMinor     REG_DWORD 14

The DisplayIcon usually points to the executable because the executable has an embedded ico resource. If you wish, you could easily point it to an .ico file instead.

If you peruse other application values with regedit, you'll see a lot of different values in there in addition to the ones I listed for you above. Don't bother -- they only have meaning in a specialized context that you are opting out of by writing this yourself.

You're killing yourself to write this yourself. Go get a copy of Inno Setup

Hope this helps.
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thank you for the response, very detailed and high quality.
i wish we had a reputation system so i could "+rep" you :)
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Duthomhas wrote:
OP says he is writing his own installer, not using Windows Installer.

I was very much aware of that.

If someone doesn't know how the Windows Installer does the work, the steps needed, the options available, creating a custom installer becomes much, much harder.

I could just as easily suggested a third party installer, as you did.
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