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HOW TO: How to uninstall IncrediMail

Q. I would like to know how to uninstall IncrediMail. I did not subscribe to this e-mail service, as I inadvertently clicked on the IncrediMail icon at the end of an e-mail message I was reading. If I am able to uninstall IncrediMail, will I be a...

Q. I would like to know how to uninstall IncrediMail. I did not subscribe to this e-mail service, as I inadvertently clicked on the IncrediMail icon at the end of an e-mail message I was reading. If I am able to uninstall IncrediMail, will I be able to retain the messages that are on the IncrediMail messages received list?

A. IncrediMail is a free multimedia e-mail client that gives users access to all sorts of html graphics and enhancements to their e-mails.

Among the options are animated e-mail notifiers, tons of emoticons, sound effects, interesting e-mail backgrounds, e-cards and animations for your messages.

While many people like the liveliness IncrediMail brings to e-mail, the program is controversial because some claim the HTML-heavy messages are more likely to be directed into spam filters or use up too much bandwidth.

It evidently can be very difficult to remove entirely.

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Most of the time, IncrediMail is fairly easy to uninstall with the built-in uninstaller, said Mark Hasting, of Hasting Computer Consulting in Grants Pass, Ore. But many times, the normal uninstaller doesn't remove all the pieces of IncrediMail because the program is open at the time of removal or there are locked files or other issues, he said.

You can start by trying to remove IncrediMail the standard way, he said.

Close the program. Go to the "Start" menu and select "Control Panel." Double-click on "Add or Remove Programs." Find IncrediMail in the list of installed programs and click on "Change or remove programs" to uninstall it. Follow the prompts to complete the uninstall process.

If this doesn't work, IncrediMail becomes difficult to uninstall because part of the program remains, but the uninstaller option is now gone from "Add or Remove Programs," Hasting said. The built-in uninstaller also doesn't do a good job of removing many of the entries it places in your registry.

He gives a list from Microsoft of IncrediMail components you should remove from your registry on his Web page devoted to this topic www.pchell.com/support/incredimail.shtml .

Let me make my standard disclaimer here: Messing with your registry is serious business, and if you're not an experienced computer tinkerer, you could really mess things up. Dig in here at your own risk.

The alternative to trying this yourself is paying $5 for a program Hasting developed to do it for you. The program will uninstall IncrediMail, scrub your registry, remove leftover files and folders and thoroughly make sure it's gone from your system. You can purchase it at the Web site above.

As for the second part of your question about keeping your e-mails; I asked the folks at IncrediMail and they said it couldn't be done--the messages have been downloaded from the mail server and cannot be returned.

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However, Hastings points out a post on About.com that describes a couple of tools that can export your messages in a format that can be used by Outlook Express and Windows Mail, and imported from there into other e-mail clients. You can find it at email.about.com/cs/incredimailtips/qt/et012403.htm

(Think you can stump the geeks? Send your high-tech question to stumpthegeeks@newsobserver.com . Please include your name, address and daytime phone number. Individual replies are not given.)

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