how to change startup programs in windows

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change startup programs in windows

How to Change Startup Programs in Windows

Startup programs are saved in a special folder on the hard drive and run automatically when Windows boots up. In Windows 7, the default startup program settings are similar to those of previous versions of Windows. To change startup programs in Windows 7, you may need to access the startup folder, change MSConfig settings, access individual program settings, or delete programs through your computer’s regedit program.

Method1Adding or Removing Files from the Startup Folder

  1. 1Open the Startup folder in Windows’ start menu. Click the Windows “Start” button and select “All Programs.” Scroll down the list to find the startup folder.
    • Right-click the “Startup” folder in the menu and select “Open All Users” to open the folder for all users on the computer.
    • Choose “Explore” to open the folder for the currently logged-in user only.
  2. 2Create a shortcut to the program or file you want to run at startup. Right-click on the file or program’s icon, and select “create shortcut.”
    • The shortcut will be created in the same folder as the original program.
    • Startup items can be either programs or other files. For example, you can set a word processing document to open upon startup.
  3. 3Drag, or cut and paste the shortcut icon into the Startup Folder. The program will now open the next time you start the computer.[1]
    • To cut and paste: Right-click on the shortcut item in the original folder and select “cut” from the menu. Then, in the Startup folder, right click on any white space in the window and select “paste.
    • Or, highlight the shortcut icon and hold down ctrl+x. Then, with the startup folder active, press ctrl+v.

Method2Changing Existing Startup Items via MSConfig

  1. 1Click the Windows “Start” button and type “msconfig” in the search text box. Click on MSConfig in the search results.This opens the System Configuration console.
  2. 2Click the “Startup” tab. This gives you a view of the programs installed as startup options on your computer.
    • Note that not all startup items will be shown.
    • You are not given the option to add startup items to the list inside MSconfig.
    • To add items not on the MSconfig list, use the Startup Folder method.
  3. 3Check boxes of the applications you want to start when you boot the computer. For programs you no longer want to start, clear the check box.
  4. 4Click “Apply.” This will change the changes you made to startup items.
  5. 5Reboot the computer to finalize changes to startup items. A popup window will ask if you want to reboot the computer. Click “Restart” to reboot the computer and save the changes.
    • If you do not restart your computer, your startup programs will revert to their original settings.
    • When you have deselected an item in MSConfig, you will be starting in”Selective startup” mode. This can be viewed under the “general” tab in MSconfig.
    • If you subsequently decide to choose Normal Startup”, all disabled items will be re-enabled.[2]

Method3Using Other Methods to Change Startup Items

  1. 1Change the settings of the program itself to manage its startup options. This differs from program to program, and requires you to search for the startup setting by looking through menus such as “options,” “preferences,” “settings,” or “tools,” system tray icons, and so forth.
    • To find out how to change a particular program’s startup settings, look at the program’s “help” offerings, or do an internet search.
    • For example, Skype, an internet telephony/chat program, can be disabled via Tools → Options → General Settings → deselect “Start Skype when I start Windows”.
    • As another example, Dropbox, a file sharing and storage program, can be disabled by right-clicking the system tray icon (the icon in the windows toolbar near the clock), clicking the gear-shaped icon, then selecting “Preferences…”
  2. 2Use your computer’s registry to delete startup items. Startup items can be deleted manually though your computer’s “regedit” program.
    • See an overview of this process here.
    • Editing your computer’s registry should only be done as a last resort and only if you know exactly what you are doing.[3]

Method4Using Programs and Databases to Identify Startup Items

  1. 1Avoid deleting files and programs indiscriminately. Deleting startup programs without knowing what they are can lead to certain applications not functioning properly.
    • Before making changes that you are unsure of, use System Restore to create a “restore point” that you can revert to if something goes wrong.[4]
    • Many startup items have names that are somewhat descriptive, but others are obscure abbreviations, and have functions that are difficult to identify.
  2. 2Use an online list of programs and processes, or an internet search to identify what each thing does.
    • This may require some time, as it requires you to search for each file or process individually.
    • Some helpful lists include:[5]
      • Process Library: winner of PC Magazine’s Top 100 Classic Websites, 195k+ entries.
      • Pacman’s Portal; an online startup program database containing more than 35K entries
  3. 3Use a program to automatically clean up startup items. There are many free, popular programs that can cleanup startup items for you, including items in the system registry.
    • These programs often contain databases that are updated to include frequently occurring unnecessary items, as well as other tools to improve your computer’s performance.
    • As always, do ample research to find reputable programs to avoid damaging your computer.
    • Some popular programs include:
    • CCleaner
    • Should I remove it?

How to Disable Startup Programs in Windows

The more software you install on your computer, the longer it may seem to take to start up Windows. Many programs add themselves to the list of programs started when you boot your computer, and that list can get long.

Editor’s Note: Obviously our more geeky readers already know how to do this, but this article is meant for everybody else. Feel free to share it with your non-techie friends!

If you are using Windows 8 or Windows 10, scroll down.

Disabling Startup Programs in Windows 7, Vista, or XP

For some programs, it’s smart to have them start with Windows, such as anti-virus and firewall software. However, for most programs, starting them at boot-up just wastes resources and extends startup time. There is a tool installed with Windows, called MSConfig, that allows you to quickly and easily see what’s running at startup and disable the programs you prefer to run on our own after startup as needed. This tool is available and can be used to disable startup programs in Windows 7, Vista, and XP.

NOTE: MSConfig can be used to configure several things other than just startup programs, so be careful what you do with it. If you’re not sure about using it, just follow the steps in this article and you should be fine.

To run MSConfig, open the Start menu and type “msconfig.exe” (without the quotes) in the Search box. As you type, results display. When you see “msconfig.exe,” click on it or press Enter, if it is highlighted.

NOTE: If you are using Windows XP, open the Run dialog box from the Start menu, type “msconfig.exe” in the Open edit box, and click OK.

Click the Startup tab on the System Configuration main window. A list of all the startup programs displays with a check box next to each one. To prevent a program from starting up with Windows, select the check box next to the desired program so there is NO check mark in the box. Click OK once you have made your choices.

A dialog box displays telling you that you may need to restart your computer for the changes to take affect. Click Restart to restart your computer immediately. If are not ready to restart your computer, click Exit without restart.

Disabling Startup Programs after Windows 10’s April 2018 Update

If you’re running the very latest version of Windows 10, there’s a new Startup Apps management panel that makes it super easy to disable startup programs. Just open up the Settings panel, and then search for “Startup”, and open up the Startup Apps panel. If you don’t see this, you don’t have the very latest version yet, and you’ll want to use Task Manager to manage your startup apps (keep reading this next section).ADVERTISEMENT

Once you do have the Startup Apps panel, you can simply toggle the stuff you don’t want to run at startup.

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Disabling Startup Programs in Windows 10 or 8 or 8.1

Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 make it really simple to disable startup applications. All you have to do is open up Task Manager by right-clicking on the Taskbar, or using the CTRL + SHIFT + ESC shortcut key, clicking “More Details,” switching to the Startup tab, and then using the Disable button.

It’s really that simple. If you aren’t seeing these options, make sure to click “More Details,” which is in the same place as the “Fewer details” that you see on this screenshot.

Disabling Startup Programs in CCleaner

The free PC-cleaning utility CCleaner also has a tool that allows you to disable startup programs. In CCleaner, click the Tools button on the left side of the dialog box and click Startup to see the list of startup programs. The Enabled column indicates whether each program is set to start with Windows. To disable a program that is enabled, select the program in the list and click Disable. You can also enable programs that have been disabled.

NOTE: CCleaner does not seem to prompt you to restart your computer, so be sure to do so yourself.

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