Manually Remove AOL Instant Messenger

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This procedure will entail manually deleting files and editing the system registry. Because of this, I recommend that only advanced users who are familiar with the use of the Registry Editor program proceed with this method. If you do not feel comfortable editing the system registry, you can use a good uninstaller program to remove AIM without harming anything else in the Netscape Communicator Package. I have successfully removed AIM using Norton CleanSweep version 4.5 (it comes with Norton SystemWorks 2). While this will leave some registry entries behind, it will safely remove the program and the main entries without causing any errors. Also, I am assuming you aren’t an AOL user. If you have AOL and the software installed, please do not proceed with this as some of the registry subkeys we’re going to remove may break something on you. With that out of the way, let us proceed.

Important: Back Up Your Registry Before Proceeding!

Have you activated AIM?

If you have never touched AIM and have not connected to the Instant Messaging server or configured the program, there won’t be as many changes made to your system. Those of you that have not activated AIM, just follow along but note that some of the registry entries I say to remove will not be there in your registry. If you have opened AIM and proceeded to login, by default it will activate AIM when Windows is started. It is probably best to do it through the program’s options, start AIM and click the Settings button and click the General tab. You will see a checkbox Start Netscape AIM when Windows starts. Uncheck that box and click Apply then exit AIM and reboot the computer before proceeding (to make sure that AIM is unloaded so we can delete the files). The setting to load AIM at startup is in a rather insidious place in the registry. If you’d rather, you can remove the value from the following subkey. (Don’t delete the subkey itself). In the left pane of Regedit, browse for the following subkey and click on it:


Click on the Run folder in the left pane of regedit, then in the right pane note the default value:

C:\Program Files\Netscape\Communicator\Program\Aim\aim.exe -cnetwait.odl

In the right pane of regedit, right-click on Default value and choose Modify. Clear the value in the field (Don’t delete default value) I say it’s easier and safer to just uncheck the box from within AIM’s setup options.

Next Step: Deleting the Files

This part is really easy. Most of the files we have to delete are in the AIM subfolder in the Netscape program folder. Delete the Start menu items pertaining to AIM in the Netscape program group. You can delete them using Start/Settings/Taskbar/Start menu or you can simply remove them in Windows Explorer:

C:\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Netscape Communicator\AOL Instant Messenger (TM).lnk

There are two of them, the other is AOL Instant Messenger License. There is another file to delete, that will be in your Netscape Users directory. Mine is just default, your user folder may be whatever user profile name you chose.


This file will get rid of the ugly AIM icon from your personal toolbar in Netscape. You’ll still have a button that says Instant Message, but it won’t stand out as much and it will be non-functional. I don’t think we can get rid of that button altogether, its right in the program. I always go to View and deselect the personal toolbar anyway, as most of the stuff on it I wouldn’t use and I would rather have that extra viewing area. Also, delete the folder C:\Windows\aim95 that contains the “buddy list” info. The rest of the files we have to delete are all in the AIM program subfolder:

C:\Program Files\Netscape\Communicator\Program\Aim

Simply remove the entire AIM subfolder.

Click Here to get a Text File with a Complete Listing

Removing the Registry Entries

Open the Registry Editor and delete the following subkeys:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ App Paths \ aim.exe
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ CLASSES \ MIME \ Database \ Content Type \ application/x-aim
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ CLASSES \ aimfile
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ CLASSES \ AOL Instant Messenger.ConfigFile
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ CLASSES \ AIM.protocol
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ CLASSES \ AIM.protocol.1
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ CLASSES \ CLSID \ {BAEB32D0-732D-11d2-8BF4-0060B0A4A9EA}
HKEY_USERS \ .Default \ Software \ America Online

Note: If you have never activated and configured AIM some of these subkeys will not exist, so don’t panic if you can’t find some of these.

You should reboot after removing these. The registry needs to re-initialize so that the hives will synchronize. (e.g.. so that the subkeys will be gone from the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT hive, which is linked from the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\CLASSES subkey). That should be it, AIM is completely gone!


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