If you’re looking to completely uninstall Visual Studio Code (VS Code) from your Windows 11 or 10 system along with all its settings and extensions, a simple uninstall through the Control Panel or Settings app isn’t enough. Even after a standard uninstall, VS Code leaves behind user data such as settings, extensions, and their respective configurations.
This persistence is intentional, often to save time when reinstating the software. However, if you are aiming to purge VS Code due to software corruption, performance optimization, or a fresh reinstallation, fully manual removal is the way to go. Here’s your comprehensive guide to getting it done on Windows 11 or Windows 10.
Understanding partial uninstallation of VS Code
Normally, when uninstalling VS Code, the built-in uninstaller from Windows removes the executable files from the Program Files directory but does not touch the user data, which includes settings, snippets, keybindings, and installed extensions. This remnant data can cause conflicts if corrupted or when you are trying to set up a development environment from zero. It may also pose a security risk, should sensitive information be stored within those files.
Related resource: How to Clean Up AppData Folder in Windows 11
Why manually uninstall VS Code completely
A complete manual uninstallation removes every trace of the application from your system. This is essential in several scenarios, such as:
- A clean reinstall means setting up the development environment exactly the way you want, without previous configurations getting in the way.
- If VS Code is not functioning correctly, residual files may be part of the problem.
- Starting fresh can sometimes resolve performance issues or odd behavior caused by old configurations or extensions.
- When a system needs to be scrubbed for security purposes, every trace of software, including settings and extensions, needs to be eradicated.
Step-by-step guide to completely uninstall VS Code in Windows 11
Step 1: Uninstalling VS Code normally
Start by using the standard uninstallation process which removes the core installation of VS Code.
- Open Settings by pressing Win + i.
- Navigate to Apps > Installed apps.
- Search for Microsoft Visual Studio Code in the list and select it.
- Click on Uninstall and confirm any prompts to remove the main application files.
Uninstalling Visual Studio Code via Settings is the first critical step in removing the software from your system. This process eliminates the main executable files and the basic framework that allows the application to run. However, it’s important to note that uninstalling the application this way does not remove user settings, extensions, or other residual files. These elements remain on your system to facilitate a smoother reinstallation process, should you decide to reinstall VS Code in the future.
Step 2: Delete VS Code folders
Now, it’s time to remove the remaining data directories which contain user settings, extensions, and cached files.
- Open Run by pressing Win + R.
%AppData%and press Enter to navigate to the Roaming folder.
- Within here, locate and delete the Code folder. This folder contains user settings and some extension data, which can persist through a regular uninstall.
- Return to the AppData directory (
%AppData%in the Run dialog, but go up one level) and navigate to the Local folder.
- Delete the
Programs\Microsoft VS Codefolder. Here lie the installation files for users who installed VS Code only for their user account.
Deleting the VS Code folders manually from both the “AppData/Roaming” and the “AppData/Local” directories is essential for a complete uninstallation because these folders contain user settings, extensions, and temporary files that are not removed during the initial uninstall process. The Code folder in “AppData/Roaming” holds configurations and data that personalize the VS Code experience, such as user preferences, extension settings, and workspace information (For accurate details of what the folder contains, please refer to the VS Code documentation).
Step 3: Remove user settings and extensions
Additional user-specific settings and extensions are stored separately in the user’s profile directory.
- Open Run again by pressing Win + R.
%UserProfile%and press Enter.
- Locate the “.vscode” folder within your profile and delete it. This folder is particularly important to remove because it stores extensions and their configurations.
.vscode folder in your user profile directory is where Visual Studio Code stores extensions and certain user-specific settings that customize the coding environment to your preferences. By deleting this folder, you remove any installed extensions and their data, as well as customization that VS Code does not store in the AppData folder.
Step 4: Clear Out Remaining Shortcuts and Context Menu Entries
Lastly, ensure there are no remnants of shortcuts and context menu entries that might reference the uninstalled VS Code.
- Manually search your Desktop and Start Menu for any leftover Visual Studio Code shortcuts and delete them.
- Context menu entries can be more complex to remove as they require registry modification or third-party tools. If you are comfortable with registry edits, you can remove these entries using
regedit, or else choose a reliable context menu editor to handle it for you.
VS Code may have added entries to the context menu (the menu that appears when you right-click on the desktop or in a folder). Although these entries should be removed when you uninstall VS Code using the standard uninstaller, if they remain, you may need to use a context menu editor tool or “regedit” to remove them manually.
Step 5: Restart your computer
As the final step, it’s a good practice to restart your computer. This clears any temporary files that might be in use and ensures all changes take effect, fully cleansing your system of VS Code.
The issue of Microsoft Visual Studio Code and its extensions not being completely removed during a standard uninstallation is a common problem among users of this software. Often, when reinstalling VS Code, they find that their old settings and extensions are still present, which can be problematic for those seeking a fresh start or troubleshooting specific issues. To fully resolve this, users typically need to follow a comprehensive uninstallation process, which includes manually removing specific folders, cleaning up user settings and extensions, and clearing registry entries. This ensures that all remnants of VS Code are removed from their system.