How to change startup programs

Speed up your system by tweaking the startup application in Windows and MacOS

Dell XPS 13 2019 review (9380)
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Is starting your computer way more of a hassle than it should be? If it takes far longer than you’d like — even with a fast SSD — then you may have too many high-demand applications starting up with Windows or MacOS. The best way to fix that is to learn how to change startup programs. That’s what we’re here for.

Some login apps are unnecessary, and some are just broken items from past apps that really should be removed anyway. In other words, you can get rid of them and improve startup times without sacrificing anything.

Managing startup apps in Windows 10

Step 1: Launch the Task Manager. You can find it by right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting it from the pop-up list, or by searching for it in the Windows search box.

Task Manager

Step 2: If the Task Manager only shows the current programs you have open, get it to reveal more information by selecting More details the bottom of the window. This opens a larger window with a much longer list of apps and various tabs. Don’t get overwhelmed! Look at the tab options and go to the one that says Start up.

Step 3: The Start up tab shows you all the apps that can automatically start up with Windows. You’ll notice that all active apps say Enabled in the status section, while inactive ones are Disabled. Look through the list and find the apps that you don’t need to automatically launch — this varies, but consider your tasks and what’s essential. You probably want OneDrive to launch at work, your Nvidia graphics card to launch on a gaming rig, and any anti-malware solution you might have to always start with Windows. When you find an app you don’t need, right-click (or press and hold if on a tablet). Select Disable from the pop-up menu. Alternatively, you can use the Disable button at the bottom of the window.

Startup Impact

When it comes to picking the apps you want to disable, it’s worth considering the last column in Task Manager titled, Start up impact. This lets you know how much system resources the app requires on startup. If it says None then you probably don’t need to worry about disabling it. If it says Not Measured, then it’s probably a new app (or you have a new Windows 10 install) because Windows hasn’t been able to measure its impact yet.

Over time, Startup impact can provide useful information on what apps are best to disable. Look for apps that have a High impact, and odd-named apps that don’t have anything listed under Publisher. These are prime targets.

Note: If you aren’t sure what an app does, it’s a smart idea to leave it. But if you find that you’ve disabled an app that you did need to startup with Windows, simply repeat the above steps and set the app to Enabled.

Managing startup apps in MacOS

Step 1: Go to System preferences, which you can find in your dock as the gear icon. Once there, look for the silhouette icon called Users & Groups and select it.

Step 2: If you have multiple users on your computer, they will appear on the left side of the window. Pick the appropriate user if necessary. Note that some options here may be restricted due to administrator decisions, but you should still be able to alter your startup apps without a problem. Once the right user has been chosen, select the tab near the top of the window that says Login Items.

Users and Groups

Step 3: In Login Items, you will see a list of all apps that open on startup. Check the apps that you don’t want to open right away. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to see which apps have the most impact on startup time like in Windows, but the list does tell you what kind of software it is, which may help you decided.

Login Items

Step 4: Below the list of apps you will find plus and minus signs. Choosing the minus sign will remove the app that you have selected from the list. You can also add new apps with the plus sign. You can also choose to remove all selected apps at once if you’re really cleaning house. Note that this method works on all newer versions of MacOS, from Mojave all the way back to Sierra, so the edition you have shouldn’t matter.

Managing startup apps in Windows 8

Step 1: Run Task Manager by pressing the Windows key and R and typing msconfig in the Run box. Press Run.

Step 2: Choose the tab labeled Startup.

task manager windows 8

Step 3: Choose the startup program you’d like to disable. Then hit Disable.

Adding items to Windows 8 startup

Step 1: Right-click the item you want to have run at startup, select Copy.

Step 2: Simultaneously press the Windows + R keys to open the run dialogue box. Then enter %appdata%.

run dialogue box

Step 3: From the menu that appears choose Microsoft > Windows > Start Menu > Programs > Startup.

add startup windows 8

Step 4: Right-click anywhere in the menu and select Paste.

Step 5: Restart the computer to save your startup configuration.

Managing startup apps in Windows 7

Step 1: Go to the Windows’ Start button and type msconfig in the Search Programs textbox to open the System Configuration console.

Step 2: Click the “Startup” tab to view all the programs installed as a startup option on your computer.

Step 3: Select the checkboxes of the applications you want to start when you boot up your computer and uncheck all the ones you don’t want.

system configuration

Step 4: Click “Apply” and close the configuration window. Then click “Restart” when the reboot pop-up appears. You must restart to reboot the computer and save the changes.

Adding items to Windows 7 Startup

Step 1: Right-click the item you want to add to Startup, then choose Create Shortcut from the menu that appears. The shortcut will appear in the same folder as the original item.

Step 2: Select the start button > All Programs > Startup.

Step 3: Drag the shortcut to the Startup folder.

When you reboot your computer the startup configuration will automatically save.


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