How to Change Windows Startup Programs

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.

Not all programs in the Startup tab have shortcuts in the Startup folder.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

Stop Programs From Starting Automatically

Step 1

The Power User menu provides easy access to many important Windows utilities.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

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

Step 2

The startup impact of each app is displayed in the Startup Impact column.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

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

The Disable button is replaced by the Enable button if the app is Disabled.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

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

The enable programs, check their boxes or click Enable All.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

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

If you select "Send To" and click "Desktop," you create a shortcut on the desktop.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

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

You can browse for files to run if you click Browse.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

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

If you select Paste, an unusable copy of the EXE file is created.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft

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.

Tip

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.

references