How to Change Windows Startup Programs

By Nick Peers

Some programs add themselves to the startup list in Windows 7 or 8.1 and are launched automatically by the operating system when it boots. You can prevent these programs from starting with the operating system from the Startup tab of the **Task Manager dialog in Windows 8.1**, or of the **System Configuration dialog in Windows 7**. You can also **add your own files and programs** to the startup list by adding their shortcuts to the Startup folder.

Stop Programs From Starting Automatically

Step 1

Press **Windows-X** to display the Power User menu and select **Task Manager** to launch the utility.

Step 2

Select the **Startup** tab to view all programs that are allowed or disallowed to start with the operating system. Note that **some installers set the programs to start with Windows without asking your permission**.You can see the status of each program in the **Status** column. If the status is **Enabled**, the program starts automatically with Windows.

Step 3

**Prevent specific apps from starting with the operating system** by selecting them from the list of apps and then clicking the **Disable** button. The changes are applied immediately.

Step 4

**In Windows 7**, expand the **Start** menu, type **msconfig** into the **Search** field and then click **msconfig.exe** to launch the System Configuration utility.Select the **Startup** tab and then uncheck the apps you want to disable or click **Disable All** to disable all at once. Click **Apply** to apply the new settings.

Start Specific Programs Automatically

Step 1

Press **Windows-X** to display the Power User menu and select **File Explorer** to launch the utility. Locate the executable -- the EXE file that launches the application -- of the program you want to launch automatically when Windows starts. Programs are usually installed in the **Program Files** or **Program Files (x86)** -- on 64-bit systems -- folder on the system drive.Right-click the executable and select **Copy** from the context menu to copy it to the clipboard -- this copies a shortcut to the clipboard, not the entire program.

Step 2

Press **Windows-X** to expand the **Power User** menu and click **Run** to display the Run dialog. The keyboard shortcut to display the Run dialog is **Window-R**. Type **shell:startup** into the **Open** field and click **OK** or press **Enter** to open the Startup folder in a new File Explorer window.

Step 3

Right-click on an **empty spot** in the Startup folder and select **Paste Shortcut** from the context menu to create a shortcut that points to the EXE file you copied to the clipboard.**You can copy [Desktop shortcuts]( into the Startup folder to automatically launch the apps when Windows Starts.**

Tips & Warnings

  • Windows can open any file automatically -- such as Word or Excel documents, video or audio files, or images -- when it starts, as long as a shortcut to the file is present in the Startup folder. Use the same procedures to create shortcuts to any type of file in the Startup folder.
  • To open the Startup menu in Windows 7, expand the Start menu, select "All Programs", right-click the "Startup" folder and select "Open" from the context menu to open it in Windows Explorer.
  • You can find the location of programs from the Search charm. Press "Windows-S" to display the Search charm, type the name of the program -- "Chrome" for example -- and right-click the program in the list of search results. Select "Open File Location" from the context menu to open the file's location in File Explorer.
  • To create shortcuts to an app on the desktop, right-click the executable file, select "Send To" and click "Desktop (create shortcut)." You can copy shortcuts from the desktop to other folders -- including the Startup folder; copies of shortcuts point to the same executable.
  • To locate an executable from the Startup tab of the Task Manager in Windows 8.1, right-click the program and select "Open File Location" from the context menu. If you select "Properties," you can view the properties of the EXE file.
  • If your computer is slow during startup, consider disabling some of the programs that start automatically. Programs that have a high startup impact -- see the Startup Impact column in the Task Manager in Windows 8.1 -- usually have a significant negative impact on the boot time.