Dealing with stubborn antivirus software can be a real headache. Norton and McAfee are notorious for being difficult to fully uninstall, often leaving behind unwanted files and registry entries even after you try removing them through the standard Control Panel route.
If you want to completely wipe Norton or McAfee off your Windows PC and start fresh with a new antivirus, this guide will show you the most effective ways to get the job done.
Table of Contents
- Norton and McAfee can be sticky when uninstalling, leaving behind registry entries and files.
- Use the Programs menu in Settings or Control Panel to uninstall first.
- Download and run the Norton or McAfee removal tools to clean up leftovers.
- Use third party uninstallers like Revo or Geek Uninstaller for a deep clean.
- In extreme cases, reset or reinstall Windows to fully remove all traces.
- Replace Norton/McAfee with a lighter, less intrusive antivirus like Avast, AVG or Windows Defender.
Uninstall Through Settings or Control Panel
The most straightforward way to begin removing Norton or McAfee is to go through your operating system's built-in uninstall process.
Here's how to completely remove Norton or McAfee using Settings:
- Open Settings and go to Apps > Apps & features.
- Find Norton or McAfee in the list of installed programs.
- Click on it and select Uninstall.
- Follow through the prompts to confirm removal.
Alternatively, you can use the traditional Control Panel route:
- Open Control Panel and go to Programs > Uninstall a program.
- Find Norton or McAfee, right click and select Uninstall.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to confirm.
This will get rid of the main antivirus program, but some leftover files and registry entries usually remain. To completely remove Norton or McAfee from Windows, keep reading.
Use the Official Norton/McAfee Removal Tools
Both Norton and McAfee provide official tools to fully get rid of all remaining bits after standard uninstallation.
Norton Removal Tool
To completely remove Norton Windows, grab the Norton Remove and Reinstall tool:
- Download the Norton Removal Tool from Norton.com.
- Save and run the tool. Click “Remove Products“.
- Check “Remove all Norton related entries from registry and hard drive” and click Next.
- After removal completes, restart your computer.
McAfee Consumer Products Removal Tool
McAfee's equivalent for completely removing McAfee Windows is the McAfee Consumer Products Removal tool:
- Download the McPR tool from McAfee.com.
- Save and run the exe file. Click “Remove” to start uninstall.
- Restart your computer when prompted.
Using the respective company's dedicated removal tools is the safest way to completely wipe McAfee or Norton from your Windows system while avoiding any leftover traces.
Use Third Party Uninstallers
If for some reason the Norton or McAfee removal tools fail to completely obliterate all traces of the antivirus from your Windows PC, specialized uninstallers from third parties can help.
Here are some top options:
- Revo Uninstaller – Scans for leftovers after standard uninstall and deletes them. Has a “hunter mode” for stubborn software.
- Geek Uninstaller – Like Revo, scans and forcefully removes any remnants left behind after regular uninstall.
- IObit Uninstaller – Deep cleans and removes hidden files and registry entries other uninstallers may miss.
- BC Uninstaller – Completely removes leftover files, folders and registry keys in a few clicks.
These more powerful dedicated uninstallers will hunt down and remove every last piece of Norton or McAfee that may be clinging on to your Windows system. Most offer free trials so you can download one and give it a shot.
Just be careful not to delete any important system files in the cleaning process.
Reset or Reinstall Windows
In the unlikely event that Norton or McAfee proves impossible to completely remove from Windows using the above methods, a nuclear option is to reset or cleanly reinstall Windows.
This sledgehammer approach will guarantee that any lingering traces of the antivirus get wiped from your system for good. Just be warned that resetting or reinstalling Windows also removes everything else on your PC.
- To reset Windows 10 or 11 while keeping personal files, go to Settings > System > Recovery and select “Reset this PC“.
- To do a clean install of Windows, boot from a USB installer drive and select “Custom install” during setup to wipe the hard drive.
Again, resetting or reinstalling Windows is an extreme measure when all else fails. But it ultimately provides a fresh start, completely removing Norton or McAfee in the process.
Replace Norton/McAfee with a Better Antivirus
Once you've succeeded in completely removing Norton or McAfee Windows, it's time to replace it with something better. Rather than dealing with nagging popups, bloated software and difficult uninstallation again, consider switching to:
- Windows Defender – Microsoft's baked-in antivirus is simple, quiet, and significantly less obtrusive than traditional options.
- Avast Free Antivirus – Reliable real-time protection that's lightweight and won't slow down your PC.
- AVG AntiVirus Free – Another popular basic antivirus to guard your system without hassles.
Most importantly, choose a security solution you can easily uninstall should you ever want to switch again in the future!
FAQ About Removing Norton/McAfee from Windows
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about completely wiping Norton or McAfee off your Windows computer:
What's the best way to completely uninstall Norton or McAfee?
For the most thorough removal, use the dedicated Norton or McAfee removal tools provided by the companies. This cleans up any leftovers missed by standard uninstall.
Is a Windows reinstall necessary to fully remove Norton/McAfee?
A clean Windows install or reset is an extreme last resort if all else fails. In most cases, the removal tools or third party uninstallers will completely obliterate all traces of stubborn antivirus software.
What are some alternatives to replace Norton/McAfee?
Good, lightweight replacements include Windows Defender, Avast Free Antivirus, AVG AntiVirus Free or Bitdefender Antivirus Free.
Will a system restore completely remove Norton/McAfee?
Unfortunately no, a system restore does not actually uninstall software. The antivirus will still be present and running after restoring to an earlier point.
What happens if I can't completely remove Norton/McAfee from registry?
Try the dedicated removal tools first. If those fail, use a specialized uninstaller like Revo or Geek Uninstaller to deep clean the registry. Worst case – a full Windows reinstall wipes the slate clean.
Is completely removing Norton/McAfee after subscription ends required?
Strictly speaking no, but it's highly recommended to get rid of the expired software entirely rather than leaving it dormant on your system. The removal tools make this easy.
Completely wiping Norton or McAfee off your Windows PC gives you a fresh start and freedom to choose a new, lighter antivirus solution. With the specialized removal tools and advanced uninstallers covered here, you can banish every last trace of frustrating antivirus bloat.