You may have lots of mysterious junk lurking on your computer. As people pass their old computers to friends, coworkers or family members, the recipient often is left wondering what exactly is loaded on the machine. Odds are good that you aren't using half the stuff hogging space on your computer's hard disk. And if you don't have the original disks or documentation anymore, the software probably isn't not doing you much good. The first step to figuring out what lurks within is a cruise through the Start menu. Click Start then Programs and see what you find. Try running the software. If it doesn't run (or run well), write down the name, so you can remove it later.
Sometimes software may still be on the computer, but not listed on the Start menu anymore. For the definitive answer to what software is really there, you need to go into Windows Explorer (choose StartPrograms|Windows Explorer to run it). In Windows Explorer, choose Tools|Find|Files or Folders. Change the Look in: drop-down box to show Local Hard Drives. Then in the Named: box, type *.exe, which tells Windows to look for any file that ends in .exe. All files on your hard disk have an extension, which consists of the characters following the last dot in the file name. In this case, exe stands for "executable" file, which means it's a program file. Click Find Now. You'll get a big list of files back. Ignore any that are in the Windows folder, but see if you find anything interesting in the Program Files folder. To see what a program is, you can right-click on the file name and choose Properties. Frequently there is a Version tab and if you click Product Name you can see what the program actually is called.
Do not delete any files here. This is just an investigation. Many files will be uninteresting because they are part of another program. However, this exercise does help you isolate the folders that probably contain "mystery software."
After you've figured out what is there and what you don't want, choose Start|Settings|Control Panel and click Add/Remove Programs. Look for the software you want to remove, click to select it and click the Add/Remove button. Follow the steps in the wizard to remove the software properly. If the wizard asks, do not remove any "shared" files as sometimes Windows isn't very smart about which files are really still being used.