This article explains how to uninstall Windows 10, the most used desktop operating system, followed by Mac OS and Linux.
Windows 10 gives you all the modern features needed today while retaining the familiar feel of the Windows 7 desktop.
If you have a Windows PC, you may have several reasons why you would want to uninstall Windows 10 from your computer. You might have cluttered up your system to the point where a full sweep makes sense.
Please note that uninstalling Windows 10 will also remove programs from your computer. After the uninstallation, you might want to install Windows 10 and reinstall all the programs and applications.
Another possible situation is that you want a fresh install of a new operating system, say Windows 11.
Maybe you are making hardware changes to your Windows 10 PC. Or you’re a tech nerd like us, and you like to dual/multi-boot and juggle with several OS installations at once.
Since Windows is the face of your computer, uninstalling it can be a daring task for simple users. Doing it ourselves, we have stumbled into situations where it felt as if our computer was bricked… only it wasn’t.
So, we’re here to take you past that phobia and to deliver good news – you can do it yourself!
Depending upon your scenario, the process of uninstalling the Windows 10 operating system can differ slightly.
This article will give an elementary guide on how to proceed in each situation.
Table of Contents
- How to uninstall Windows 10
- Wrap up
How to uninstall Windows 10
Uninstalling Windows 10 (or any Operating System) means that you can lose access to your data. Therefore, it is imperative to back up all of your essential files.
We recommend using a different hard disk, external storage media, or cloud storage solutions. Some examples of these solutions include external hard disks, USB flash drives, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc.
Depending upon your use case and the amount of data that you need to back up, the suggested solution can be different.
If you are a media content creator, don’t forget to back up your photos and videos. If you are a gamer, copy your game saves and library.
If you are associated with academia or work for a corporation, involve the IT Help Desk. It will also be prudent to back up the little things such as browser bookmarks and digital certificates.
Uninstalling Windows 10
When Windows 10 is the only OS on the computer
You will need a bootable USB drive or an optical disc (CD/DVD/Blu-Ray) with a fresh installation of Windows 7/8/10. We will use Windows 10 as an example.
- Head over to the Microsoft Windows 10 Download page for Windows app and download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool;
- Once downloaded, launch the tool by clicking the link/icon in the download manager or by following the download directory;
- Good things come to those who wait (while it loads);
- Accept the license agreement (assuming you read it);
- Select the “Create Installation Media” option using the radio button;
- For Language, Architecture, and Edition, you can select defaults or uncheck the button and modify it to match your needs;
- On the following screen, select the “USB drive option“;
- Select your USB media from the next screen. It will test your patience based on your internet connection speed;
- Once the process is complete, hit “Finish“;
- Now, head over to the Windows Settings app (a modern version of what previously used to be the Control Panel). An easy way is to type “Settings” into the search bar in the taskbar (besides the Start Menu button) to open settings. If you are a traditionalist and want to go through the Control Panel, it will redirect you to Settings;
- Go to the Windows Update & Security section of the Settings app;
- There, go to the Recovery section;
- Under the Advanced Startup section, press the “Restart Now” button;
- Your Windows 10 PC will restart into Windows Recover Environment. Select “Use A Device” and select your bootable media. Alternatively, restart your computer, access your Boot Menu through your manufacturer’s unique key combination, and select the drive.
Here is a list of standard key codes used by common manufacturers:
|Esc or F8
|F8, F10, F11 or F12
|Esc or F12
|F10, F11 or Assist
- On specific computers, you might see a screen where you are required to press a key to start the setup;
- Select your language, local, and keyboard layout. Press “Next“;
- Press “Install Now“;
- If you have a Windows key, you can enter it here. Since we are interested in uninstalling (and not installing) Windows, you can select “I don’t have a product key“. If you have one and entering it makes you happy, go for it;
- You can select any version of Windows on the following screen;
- Accept the license agreement on the following page (after reading it, of course… ?);
- Select the partition on which your existing Windows 10 installation is present on the next screen. One indication could be that its Type is listed as Primary. If you want to make it super-clean, you can also format all other partitions, especially the System partitions;
- You will be warned before you Format/wipe any partition. Press “Ok“;
- Congratulations! You handled it like a pro.
When there is a dual/multi-boot Windows 10 setup
For this method, you will have to follow the same process but with some additional pre-requisite steps to be performed.
Here are those added steps:
- Open the Run app. “Press Windows + R” keys;
- In the Run window, type msconfig and press “Enter” or click the “Ok” button to launch the app. You can also launch it by typing “msconfig” in the Search bar. Some power-users access msconfig app frequently and add it to their Control Panel. It is safe for us to assume that you are not one of them; ?
- Navigate to the “Boot” tab in this window;
- Select your other OS (the one you want to retain). Then, click on “Set as default“;
- Select the Windows 10 entry you want to uninstall and press “Delete“;
- Now, the system will present you with the option to restart your computer. This is optional. You can select anything to proceed from that window.
Note: If you are lucky and have another Windows that you don’t want to uninstall, you can bypass the first section: “When Windows 10 is the only OS on the computer“.
Here are some of the steps you can follow to skip that section:
- If you are in a Windows OS you want to retain, type “diskmgmt” in the Search bar. Alternatively, go to Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Create and format hard disk partitions. It will launch the same utility in a new window;
- You need to know which partition contains the Windows 10 installation. Right-click on it and select “Format“;
- Proceed on all subsequent warnings and format the said partition to uninstall Windows. Close the window once the process is complete;
- Voila! Your old Windows 10 install has been uninstalled and erased from existence!
Uninstalling Windows 10 from a Mac using Boot Camp Assistant
Luckily, the process for Mac computers doesn’t require slaloming through various restarts and a host of settings in the Control Panel.
If you have been running Windows 10 on Mac using Boot Camp, you can use Assistant to uninstall it.
- Log in to your Mac operating system as usual;
- Next, back up all of your important data. Use Time Machine if it is appropriate for your use case;
- Force-Quit all other applications. Log out any other users from the system;
- Launch Boot Camp Assistant using Spotlight (Apple’s alternative to the search bar beside the Start Menu button);
- Click “Continue“;
- You will be taken to the Select Tasks screen. Please tick the check box Remove Windows 10 or later version (the screenshot says Install instead of Remove since we didn’t have it installed on our Mac);
- On the following screen, you will be asked to restore your Windows 10 partition to a single Mac OS partition. Select “Restore“;
- On the final screen, press “Quit“;
- You’re all done!
Windows 10 is a potent tool. However, in the world of computers, a fresh start is sometimes the best solution to a hundred problems.
Unfortunately, it is not as easy as uninstalling an app from your phone. If you are cornered by the inevitable step of uninstalling Windows, you are not alone.
Mostly, it is only about knowing the proper settings in the Control Panel and the correct sequence of steps.
Gone are the days when you needed to call a tech-savvy friend for help in uninstalling Windows. Gone also are the days when you would’ve been required to pay an IT expert to do it for you.
By learning how to uninstall Windows 10, you have empowered yourself to get out of several sticky spots.
In the golden words of Spiderman’s Uncle Ben: “With great power, comes great responsibility”. Please be sure to follow the procedure to the letter and to extend it to other scenarios (such as Windows installation).Check out some of our other awesome articles: