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FAQ: How do I uninstall WDS?

by Brandon on July 23rd, 2007

If you have installed WDS on Windows XP / 2003 and wish to uninstall it, read the instructions below.  Also, please post a comment with your reason for uninstalling – user feedback is very important to all of us.

Standard answer:

  1. Click on the Start button
  2. Click “Control Panel”
  3. Click “Add / Remove Programs”
  4. Check the “Show Updates” box
  5. Look for “Windows Desktop Search” in the list.

If that doesn’t work:

Try looking for the uninstaller, it normally resides in:


If it’s not there

Then you probably deleted it, or some ill-conceived “tweak” or “disk cleaner” did.  Unfortunately, this puts you in a tough spot, since it’s really not a supported scenario or something we can design for (“I deleted the uninstaller – now I can’t uninstall!  Help!”).

Your best bet in this case might be to look and see if you have a System Restore point that you can revert back to, from before WDS was installed.  That should remove everything it added to the registry. 

From → WDS FAQ

  1. Tony permalink


    Regarding uninstalling WDS: We have users that frequently search for numerical data in an excel file (asset numbers, budget numbers). Before installing WDS, we could right click on a folder, select search, enter in a number in the ’search for text in file’ and have the resulting spreadsheets returned. After installing WDS this didn’t work. Then, we uninstalled WDS and it *still* doesn’t work. We really need this functionality back, can you help?


  2. mathias permalink

    I feel like such a fool for deleting the uninstraller. Of course I’ having trouble getting WS4 preview to work when the old version can not be proberly removed. I guess I’ll just have to pray that the final realease of WS4 will at least be able to owerwrite the existing version of WDS3.

    thanks for the tip!

  3. Steen permalink


    I just installed “Windows Search 4.0 for Windows XP”. I don’t like it, and want to remove it. But, using Add/remove programs in control panel gives this me the following message: “Une erreur s’est produite lors de la tentative de suppression de Windows Search 4.0. Cet élément est peut-être déjà désinstallé. Voules-vous supprimer Windows Search 4.0 de la liste AJout/Suppressoin de programmes ?”.

    Can someone help me ?

  4. Konya Ova permalink

    I gave Windows Search 4 a try on an XP SP3-system – a big mistake! I just tested it for a week. Then I decided unistalling the program, because it didn’t find anything outside of the indexed area – with a lot of external harddisks frequently attached and removed, you urgently need finding files outside inelastic directory lists.
    I ran no tweak software since installation. Despite, there is no entry in “Add / Remove Programs” (Show Updates box checked), and there is no such directory nor an appopriate uninst.exe-file on my entire system disk.
    As often with Microsoft, I feel the guy who gave the above uninstall recommendations tried to have users feel like idiots, themselves liable for their problems.

  5. High Noon permalink

    I even reinstalled WDS4 to uninstall it directly thereafter, and there was no wax, 2!

  6. asdex permalink

    Won’t find alot of stuff. Bring back Lookout which I use all the time and is much better.
    Gaviri Pocket search is better too but doesn’t show Outlook emails very well.
    Windows Search needs an uninstaller exe too.

  7. Konya Ova permalink

    that doesn’t really help getting rid of Search.
    Isn’t there a way by hand? I can switch off all services but I can’t find where the limiting Search engine latches onto Explorer’s search dialog – even though there is no Serach-related service running, I cannot get around this limitation.

  8. Konya Ova permalink

    Meanwhile I found out that at least the old Search interface is accessible via a link “Use Search Companion” right at the bottom of the WDS4 input mask. So I can live with WDS4, which is quite useful for searching in the indexed areas.

  9. ubie permalink

    I’ve been trying to uninstall WDS 4.0 (after it buggered up)
    and I am having no luck.

    1) tried add/remove programs – it says it can’t uninstall

    2) I’ve extracted the hotfix package in c:\temp\wds
    copied the files: spuninst.inf, spuninst.exe updspapi.dll
    to that directory ran spuninst.exe
    this launches the GUI and starts the uninstall … after several click “yes” to proceed the uninstall is finished and it needs a reboot: After the reboot .. parts of desktopsearch are still present.
    I can still start up the desktop search GUI . .but now it’s totallly not doing anything.

    I was wondering if there isn’t another way to completely get rid of WDS4.0? (ATM I can’t even get it to install again. (MSI error 1603))

  10. Ron permalink

    Thanks for the uninstall instructions. I decided to uninstall for two reasons:

    1. After installation of WDS, Windows XP logon was delayed by at least one minute while indexing (of what I don’t know) was performed.
    2. Today I tried searching for a file on the C drive and WDS said it could not be searched because the drive was not indexed! Why then the delay for indexing during every logon? Windows Search 4.0 appears to be be worthless. The older version of Windows search was much better.

  11. Ron –

    Any delay at logon is not due to indexing. In the past I recall a group policy related bug causing logon delays, but I thought that had been fixed. Unfortunately diagnosing logon delays on Windows XP isn’t as easy as on Vista or later. However, you could start by looking for errors in the Event Viewer logs.

    If a location is not indexed, Windows Search should offer to let you add that location to the index. That said, indexing an entire hard drive (especially the system drive) is not advised. For simple filename matches, indexing is often overkill, and searching for a DLL or something in the Windows directory really isn’t the kind of searching that indexed search is designed for. However, if you keep documents, media, projects, etc in a folder or drive outside of your user profile, you can add them to the index using the Indexing Options control panel, or make use of the option that the Search interface offers you when you try to search an unindexed location.

    This behavior is unchanged from earlier versions of WDS.

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