The Right Way to Uninstall or Reinstall Windows Media Player 12

Disable Windows Media Player 12 to 'uninstall' it from your computer

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If Windows Media Player 12 misbehaves and a simple restart — or resetting it to its default configuration — doesn't help, uninstall and reinstall the program from your computer. This procedure should resolve the Windows Media Player errors if they relate to the integrity of core program files.

However, unlike other programs you can reinstall, you don't actually need to delete Windows Media Player, nor do you download it from a website when you want to install it. Instead, just disable Windows Media Player within the Windows Features utility to remove it, or enable it to add it back to your computer.

The procedure we outline works for all currently supported versions of Windows Media Player and Microsoft Windows. Windows Media Player 11 worked with Windows Vista; neither of which remains actively supported by Microsoft.

How to Disable Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player 12 is included in Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7. The process for disabling WMP is identical in each of these versions of Windows.

  1. Open the Run dialog box with the Win+R shortcut.

  2. Enter the optionalfeatures command.

    The Run dialog box.
  3. Locate and expand the Media Features folder in the Windows Features window.

  4. Remove the checkbox next to Windows Media Player.

  5. Click the Yes button to the question prompt about how turning off Windows Media Player might affect other Windows features and programs. Turning off WMP will also disable Windows Media Center (if you have it installed, too).

    Removing the Windows Media Player through the Windows Features utility.
  6. Click OK on the Windows Features window and wait while Windows disables Windows Media Player 12. How long it takes depends primarily on the speed of your computer. 

  7. Restart your computer. You're not asked to reboot in Windows 10 or Windows 8 but it's still a good habit to get into when disabling Windows features or uninstalling programs.

Enabling Windows Media Player

To install Windows Media Player again, repeat the above steps but put a check in the box next to Windows Media Player in the Windows Features window. If disabling WMP disabled something else, like Windows Media Center, you can re-enable that, too. Remember to restart your computer when you're done installing Windows Media Player.

Most Windows 10 computers come with Windows Media Player installed by default, but if your particular build did not, you can download Microsoft's Media Feature Pack to enable it.

We've prepared a list of common WMP problems with tips about how to fix them, as well as lists of WMP plug-ins to extend its functionality or alternative media-player programs if you're no longer thrilled with WMP.