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How to manage startup applications in windows 8 or 10

Walter Glenn is a former Editorial Director for How-To Geek and its sister sites. He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry and over 20 years as a technical writer and editor. He’s written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and edited thousands. He’s authored or co-authored over 30 computer-related books in more than a dozen languages for publishers like Microsoft Press, O’Reilly, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. He’s also written hundreds of white papers, articles, user manuals, and courseware over the years. Read more.

Many apps include a component that starts along with Windows. These startup apps can be useful, but they can also slow boot time and use up system resources. Here’s how to get them under control.

Windows has long provided tools for managing startup apps. In Windows Vista and 7, you had to dig into tools like Msconfig—which is powerful if a little clunky to use. Windows 8 and 10 include an interface for managing startup apps in a location that makes more sense: Task Manager. Of course, none of these tools let you add things to Windows startup, but if you need to do that, we also have a guide for adding programs, files, and folders to your system startup.

NOTE: Managing startup apps only applies to desktop applications. Universal apps (those you get through the Windows Store) are not allowed to start automatically when Windows starts.

There are several ways of accessing the Task Manager. Perhaps the easiest is to right-click any open space on the taskbar, and then select “Task Manager” from the context menu.

If it’s the first time you’ve ever opened Task Manager, it automatically opens in compact mode—listing only what programs are running. To access the additional features of Task Manager, click the down arrow button next to “More Details.”

In the Task Manager window, switch to the “Startup” tab. This tab displays all apps that start with Windows, along with details like the publisher of the app, whether the app is currently enabled, and how much of an impact the app has on Windows startup. That last metric is just a measurement of how long it takes the app to start.

Before you start disabling apps, it’s worth doing a little research on what the startup app does. Some startup apps are necessary for the correct operation of the operating system or programs that you use. Fortunately, Task Manager makes this easy.

Right-click any app and then choose “Search Online” to perform a web search with keywords that include both the full name of the app and the name of the underlying file. For example, when I perform an online search for PicPick (my image editor), it performs a search for “picpick.exe PicPick.”

When you’re sure you want to prevent an app from starting with Windows, right-click the app and select “Disable” on the context menu.

You can also select the app and click the “Disable button” at the bottom right of the window.

Note that when you disable a startup app, Windows does not stop the app from running immediately. It only prevents it from running automatically. When you’re done disabling apps, go ahead and close Task Manager. The next time you restart your computer, the apps you disabled won’t start along with Windows.

Last Updated on March 27, 2020 by Eliciarobert Leave a Comment

“Startup items” are programs, shortcuts, folders, drivers, etc., which are set to run automatically in Windows when the computer is first turned on, and they continue to run in the background using system resources, probably slowing your computer down somewhat. Windows Vista and 7 included tools for managing startup applications, but they were located in obscure places such as Windows Defender and Msconfig. This simple yet detailed guide will guide you to manage startup apps in windows 8 PC

Task Manager and startup apps

Windows 8 has an interface for managing most startup applications in a location that makes more sense: the Task Manager. This definitely makes it easier for you to specify which startup applications should start with Windows and use your system’s resources. Please be aware that managing startup applications this way only applies to normal desktop applications. “Modern” Metro Windows 8 apps are not allowed to start automatically when Windows starts.

There are several ways to access Task Manager in Windows 8

  • One method is to right-click on the Taskbar and select Task Manager from the popup window.
  • You could instead move your mouse to the very bottom lower left corner of the screen until the Start screen button displays. Then, left-click to bring up the Power User menu, or press the Windows key + X. Select Task Manager from the popup menu.

Initially, Task Manager automatically opens in compact mode, only listing what programs are running. To gain access to additional features of Task Manager, click the down-arrow button next to More details.

Click the Startup tab. This tab displays all programs that start with Windows. To prevent a program from starting when Windows starts, right-click on the program and select Disable from the popup menu.

You can also select the program and click the Disable button at the bottom of the dialog box.

If the Disable button is greyed out, this means that you must be signed in as an Administrator to be able to disable that startup item.

To close the Task Manager, select Exit from the File menu, or click the Close (X) button in the upper, right corner of the dialog box.

Restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

Warning: Before choosing which startup programs to disable, be sure you research online all of the programs you don’t recognize or understand. Some startup programs may be necessary for the correct operation of either the operating system or application programs that you use.

Startup folders

In addition to the above, each user on a PC has his or her own Startup folder, and there is another Startup folder which covers all users. A program or shortcut in your own folder runs only when you log into Windows. A program or shortcut in the common Startup folder runs for any user that logs into Windows.

How can you check what is in these folders? This can be done via a Windows shortcut key:

  • To check what is in your own folder, type Windows+R and in the command line field type in SHELL:STARTUP
  • To check what is in the folder for all users, type Windows+R and in the command line field type in SHELL:COMMON STARTUP

These commands open a copy of Windows Explorer and show you the contents of the relevant folder. You can add or remove items from the folder and this will affect what starts up when Windows loads next time. If you find that you are unable to remove or add something to one of these folders, this means that you need to be signed in as an Administrator to take this action.

I’m sure if you can manage startup applications in Windows 8 PC; you can even make your machine faster than before.

Have something on your mind to add to this guide? Let us know via comments section.

Some programs start automatically when you turn on your PC. This ensures that the most important applications are running as soon as the operating system is booted up and you’re ready to use your computer. This feature also prevents you from having to start your favorite programs manually every time you turn on your PC. On the other hand, some programs automatically add themselves to the startup folder when you install them. That isn’t always desirable, especially if don’t use these applications that often. You can change the startup folder to meet your needs. That way you can get to work faster and your computer will perform better. We’ll show you how to change startup programs in Windows 8.

  1. What are the benefits of changing the Windows 8 startup folder?
  2. How do you open the Windows 8 startup folder?
  3. Windows 8 startup folder: Adding and removing programs

What are the benefits of changing the Windows 8 startup folder?

It can be very useful to add some applications to your Windows 8 startup folder. Thanks to the startup folder, you don’t have to open frequently used programs on your own. This saves time and simplifies your work routine. At the same time, you can easily remove unwanted programs from your startup folder. This frees up resources on your computer and allows it to boot faster. One thing that can really slow down the startup process is annoying malware, which tends to run from the startup folder.

But there are other applications that you should always have in your startup folder. These include important system programs for your operating system, for example. Your anti-virus software should also run automatically when you boot up to make sure your computer is protected as soon as possible.

How do you open the Windows 8 startup folder?

The startup folder is located in the Users directory. The easiest way to find the folder is to use the Run dialog. You can do this in two short steps:

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut [Windows] + [R] to open the dialog box.
  2. Type in the following command in the dialog box: shell:startup

The quickest way to access the startup folder in Windows 8: Press [Windows] + [R], type in “shell:startup” and click “OK”.

Windows 8 startup folder: Adding and removing programs

There are several ways to add new programs to the startup folder or to remove unwanted programs.

  1. The first step is always to open the startup folder, as shown above.
  2. Next, right-click and select New and Shortcut.

Launch your favorite apps every time you boot up

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What to Know

  • Open the Run dialog box, enter shell:startup, then right-click inside the Startup folder and select New >Shortcut to add a program.
  • If you can’t find the app, enter shell:appsfolder in the Run dialog box, then drag apps from that folder into the Startup folder.
  • Some apps offer a ‘run at startup’ option, which is an easier way to add a program to startup in Windows 10.

This article explains how to add a program to startup in Windows 10. Applications that are designated as startup programs are launched as Windows 10 boots.

How to Add Programs to Startup in Windows 10

You can enable or disable apps from running on startup in the App Startup Control Panel and the taskbar, but the only place you can add new startup programs is through the Windows startup folder.

Some modern apps have a ‘run at startup’ capability built into their options. If your app has that option, then turning it on is a lot easier than the following method, which is designed to work with all programs.

Press the Windows key+R to open the run dialog box.

Type shell:startup in the run dialog box and press Enter on your keyboard.

Right click in the startup folder and click New.

Click Shortcut.

Type the location of the program if you know it, or click Browse to locate the program on your computer.

If you can’t find your app, try opening the run dialog box back up and typing shell:appsfolder. You can drag any app from that folder into the startup folder to instantly create a shortcut.

Click Next.

Type a name for the shortcut, and click Finish.

Create additional links for any other programs you want to run automatically when Windows starts.

Restart your computer, and the new programs will launch automatically.

What Is the Windows Startup Folder?

The Windows startup folder is a folder that Windows looks in for programs to run every time it starts. This was the only way to manage startup programs in older versions of Windows. Adding a program shortcut causes that program to launch when Windows starts, and removing a program shortcut stops it from launching when Windows starts.

While Windows 10 has moved to the newer app startup control panel as the primary way to manage which apps, the startup folder remains the best way for users to add their own startup programs.

Drawbacks to Adding Programs to the Startup Folder in Windows 10

The benefits of adding programs you use every day to the Windows 10 startup folder are obvious. Instead of waiting for Windows to start up and then manually clicking on everything you launch every day, all you have to do is turn your computer on and wait for everything to load.

The issue is that it takes time for programs to load along with Windows, and every program you load takes up resources like memory and processor power. Load too many unnecessary programs, and you’ll find that Windows 10 starts slow and may even remain sluggish after loading everything.

If you change your mind about programs you’ve added to the startup folder, you can simply delete the shortcuts to prevent those programs from launching whenever you turn on your computer. You can also change startup programs in Windows 10 using the task manager or the startup app control panel.

What to Do If You Have Too Many Windows 10 Startup Programs

If you have some essential programs that you use for work every day, or you mainly use your computer to play a specific game, try adding the programs that are important to you and then removing programs you don’t ever use.

Your computer probably came with bloatware you never actually use, and applications are often set to run when Windows starts up even if you don’t want them to. Disable those startup programs, add the ones you want, and you’ll enjoy both convenience and faster startup times.

To improve startup time in Windows 10, disable startup programs, run an anti-virus scan, disable hardware you don’t use, upgrade your RAM, or switch to an SSD.

To change your home page in Microsoft Edge, go to the three-dot menu > Settings > On startup > Open a Specific page or pages > Add a new page. In Chrome, go to the three-dot menu > Settings > Show home button > Enter custom web address.

To access Windows Advanced Startup Options, hold down the Shift key and restart your computer. Keep holding Shift until you see the Advanced Startup Options menu. Alternatively, go to the Recovery options in Windows Settings.

To add desktop shortcuts, right-click anywhere on the desktop, then select New > Shortcut > Browse. You can use desktop shortcuts to access applications, navigate to a website, or open a file.

Too many startup apps can be a drag on your PC’s performance. Here’s how to prevent apps from automatically starting when you sign into Windows 10 or 11.

One of the most frustrating aspects of Windows is the ease with which so many applications like Adobe Acrobat, iTunes, and Spotify start up automatically as soon as you log into Windows, whether you need them to or not.

There are certain types of programs you want to start automatically, such as antivirus and webcam software. However, many apps unnecessarily muscle their way into your startup routine, chewing up memory and resources and potentially hampering your PC’s performance. Don’t worry, though, because you can fight back.

Windows has long offered a way for you to view and disable your startup programs. Those who used older versions of Windows may remember opening the System Configuration tool (msconfig) to view and deselect any programs you wanted to stop loading automatically. In Windows 10 and Windows 11, you instead go through the Settings screen or Task Manager. Here’s how to deal with unwanted startup apps.

Disable Startup Apps in Windows Settings

Go to Settings > Apps > Startup to view a list of all apps that can start up automatically and determine which should be disabled. You can sort the list by name, status, or startup impact. A switch next to each app indicates a status of On or Off to tell you whether or not that app is currently in your startup routine. To disable an app, turn off its switch.

Below the switch is an indicator for impact. An app can be tagged with one of four different impact indicators: No impact, Low impact, Medium impact, or High impact. These indicators measure the impact a startup program has on your PC’s CPU and disk drive at startup.

Startup settings in Windows 11

The higher the impact indicator, the longer a program takes to load, thereby increasing the time it takes for Windows to completely start. An app with a status of Not measured means that its impact has not yet been determined.

In reviewing which apps to kick out of your startup routine, look at the ones that are rated as High and Medium, since disabling those will have the greatest effect on speeding up your system at startup. Disabling those rated as Low impact or No impact will have little or no effect on your startup time, but this might still be worth doing since disabling them can free up precious RAM.

PCMag-Recommended Windows Accessories

Disable Startup Apps in Task Manager

Reviewing your startup apps through Task Manager allows you to more easily research each one to better gauge whether or not to disable it.

  • In Windows 10, right-click on any empty area of the Taskbar in Windows 10. From the pop-up menu, click the command for Task Manager.
  • In Windows 11, click the Search icon, type Task Manager, then select Task Manager from the results.

In the Task Manager window, click the tab for Startup (you may need to click More details first). You’ll see a list of all the apps that start up automatically each time Windows loads. Some of the programs you’ll likely recognize; others may be unfamiliar. The challenge here is to hunt down the ones that don’t need to launch at startup while not disturbing the ones that do.

By default, the list should be sorted by name, but you can click any of the headings to sort the list by software publisher, startup status, and startup impact. To kick an app out of the startup sequence, right-click on it and select Disable. Anything disabled will be labeled as such in the Status column.

Your safest bet is to disable one app at a time, restart your PC, and then make sure you and Windows can live without the program running at startup. If you bump into any problems with a program you’ve disabled, return to the Settings screen or to Task Manager and welcome it back into your startup routine.

If you can’t identify a specific app by its name or publisher, right-click on it and select Properties. This opens the File Properties window that might reveal more details about it, including a description and version number. If you’re unsure whether or not you should disable a certain app from launching at startup, right-click on it and select Search online.

Windows runs a Bing search in your web browser for that program. You can then look through the results to track down information and advice on whether or not the program should be barred from startup. The ultimate goal should be to use the Startup Impact status combined with the information you find via web searches to choose the right apps to disable.

Third-Party Startup Managers

If you feel that the startup managers built into Windows aren’t robust or effective enough, you can often dig up even more startup items to review with the help of various third-party apps.

AutoRuns

AutoRuns is a free option for power users that shows you startup applications, browser extensions, scheduled tasks, services, drivers, and more. Scouring the vast number of items can be confusing and intimidating at first; you don’t want to disable a necessary and important app or another component. However, if you understand all or most of the entries listed, AutoRuns is a powerful and useful startup manager.

Starter

The free Starter utility reveals all startup programs, processes, and services. You can view all items or narrow the list by folder location or Registry entry. Before you try disabling an item, you can edit its parameters to control how and when it starts up. You can also launch the startup item directly from Starter to see exactly what it does. Starter even allows you to tweak the look, layout, and features of the utility.

Startup Delayer

The free version of Startup Delayer offers a spin on the usual startup management tricks. Startup Delayer starts by displaying all your startup items as well as any running tasks and services. Right-click on any item to view its properties, launch it to see what it does, search Google or the Process Library for more information, disable it, or delay it.

If you opt to delay a program, you can control how long it should wait until it starts up to avoid several apps from loading at the same time. By upgrading to the paid version, you gain the ability to schedule exactly when certain apps should open.

  • Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader’s Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

    Programs that automatically start with Windows can slow down your computer’s boot time, making you wait to get a useful desktop while icon after icon loads into your system tray. Fortunately, it’s possible to prevent these programs from automatically starting.

    Some of these programs perform a useful function, but many autostart programs are unnecessary and do little more than slow down your boot time — particularly programs that may have been preinstalled by your computer’s manufacturer.

    Why You Should Disable Startup Programs

    When your computer starts — or, more accurately, when you log into your computer — Windows loads your desktop and all the system processes it requires. Windows also loads programs that are configured to automatically start with Windows. These could be chat programs, file-downloading applications, security tools, hardware utilities, or many other types of programs. On a typical Windows computer, you’ll likely find quite a few programs automatically starting with Windows. Windows hides most of these programs in the system tray beneath an arrow by default. This helps unclutter your taskbar, but it doesn’t help speed up your boot times.

    Every startup program your computer loads increases the time you must wait for a usable Windows desktop. Small programs may load very quickly, but heavier programs generally take longer to load. Multiply this by the many different programs set to automatically start with Windows on a typical PC and you’ll see significant increases in boot time. Several years ago, studies found that startup programs installed by a Windows computer’s manufacturer could increase a typical Windows computer’s boot time by as much as two minutes.

    Startup programs also occupy memory and use other system resources, although their presence will typically be felt mostly through longer boot times. Worse yet, these programs are often not important, so you’re getting a longer boot time for no real advantages.

    Why Programs Automatically Start

    Most Windows computers include quite a few programs set to automatically start out-of-the-box. Other programs you install afterwards may also set themselves to automatically start. Most of these programs will appear in your system tray, but some may not and may run hidden in the background. Programs automatically start for a variety of reasons:

    • To stay connected: Programs like Skype and other instant messaging solutions automatically start up by default, keeping you signed in so you can be contacted by other users.
    • To download and upload: Steam automatically starts to download the latest updates for your PC games in the background, while uTorrent and other file-downloading programs automatically start so they can continue your active downloads.
    • To stay running: Programs like Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive start up with Windows so they’re always running, downloading and uploading your files. Other programs, like your antivirus program, automatically start for the same reason — so they’ll always be running in the background.
    • To control your hardware: Hardware utilities often automatically start to monitor your hardware and provide quick access to settings.

    Some programs may just automatically start to preload themselves so they’ll open more quickly when you need them. Other programs may place themselves in the system tray exclusively to give you quick access to certain settings. In many cases, you may not want these programs to automatically start with Windows

    How to Disable Startup Programs

    You can often prevent a program from automatically starting in its preferences window. For example, common programs like uTorrent, Skype, and Steam allow you to disable the autostart feature in their options windows.

    However, many programs don’t allow you to easily prevent them from automatically starting with Windows. How you should disable such startup programs depends on the version of Windows you’re using. If you use Windows 7 or earlier, you can use built-in MSConfig tool to disable startup programs, but we recommend you download the free CCleaner and use its built-in Startup Manager — you’ll find it under the Tools section in CCleaner.

    If you’re using Windows 8, you’ll find a new startup manager in the Windows Task Manager. This tool also informs you how long each program takes to start when you log in, showing you which programs are really slowing down your boot time.

    Which Startup Programs Should You Disable?

    With the nuts and bolts out of the way, all that’s left is deciding which programs are important and which you’ll want to disable.

    First, use a bit of common sense to understand what each program may be doing. For example, uTorrent is clearly starting so it can continue downloading files, while Skype is starting so it can keep you logged in in the background. if you don’t care about continuing to download files or automatically logging into Skype, you can disable these programs and load them normally when you want to use them.

    This only goes so far, however. Some autostart programs may have names you don’t recognize — they may have been included with your computer or a hardware driver and not be related to software programs you use. For more information, you can perform a web search for the name of the program and see what other people are saying. This will give you more information about the program, letting you know whether or not it’s useful.

    With Windows 8’s task manager, you can right-click an autostart entry and select Search online to quickly perform a web search for it.

    What About System Services?

    Some Windows software — both software included with Windows and some software added by programs you install — run as low-level system services. For example, Adobe Flash installs an updater service that will automatically check for updates in the background.

    These services can be managed from the Services configuration tool in Windows. However, we don’t recommend messing with these — most programs won’t install services and the ones that do generally need the services for their operation. You won’t see much improvement in boot times or memory use from messing with your computer’s services, although you could cause problems if you disable the wrong services. We recommend leaving system services alone.

    Some programs also install useless browser toolbars, add-ons, and other junk. These won’t make your computer take longer to startup, but they automatically start with your browser and can make your browser take longer to start up.

    Such junk software can be removed from within your browser’s options window or by uninstalling them from the Windows Control Panel. CCleaner also allows you to disable such software using its Startup tool.

    There are different ways a program can automatically load when Windows first starts. Below is a full list of where to find startup programs and how they can be disabled.

    • Windows 8, 10, and 11.
    • Windows XP, Vista, and 7.
    • Windows Startup.
    • Windows registry.
    • Windows Services.
    • Windows win.ini.

    Windows 8, 10, and 11

    Users of Windows 8, 10, and 11 can disable startup programs via the Windows Task Manager.

    1. Press the Ctrl + Alt + Del keys at the same time.
    2. Click Task Manager.
    3. In the Task Manager window, click the Startup tab.
    4. Right-click any startup program you want to disable and click Disable.

    Windows XP, Vista, and 7

    Most Windows users can use the msconfig utility to disable startup programs by following the steps below.

    1. Click Start, and then Run.
    2. Type msconfig into the text box, and then press the Enter .
    3. In the System Configuration window that appears (shown below), click the Startuptab.
    4. Uncheck each of the programs you don’t want to load upon startup.

    Windows Startup

    Another location startup programs are placed is the Windows Startup folder. To view this folder, follow the steps below.

    1. Click Start, Programs, Startup, then locate the program you want to remove. You can then right-click the program and select delete from the drop-down menu that appears. This action prevents the program from loading automatically upon startup.
    2. If you see the program you want to remove, but have Windows 95, click Start, Settings, and then Taskbar & Startup Menu. Click the Start menu programs tab, click the Advanced button, click the Programs folder, and then click the Startup folder. Highlight the program you do not want to startup automatically and press Del on your keyboard.

    Windows registry

    The Windows registry is another common location to locate programs loading up automatically. If you are unfamiliar with the registry and its potential dangers, see the registry help page. Once you have familiarized yourself with the registry, follow the steps below.

    1. Click Start, Run, type Regedit, and then press Enter .
    2. Click HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.
    3. Click Software.
    4. Click Microsoft.
    5. Click Windows.
    6. Click Current Version.
    7. Click Run.
    8. In the Run folder, locate the program(s) you don’t want to boot upon startup.
    9. Once located, highlight the file and press Del .
    10. Exit out of the registry and reboot the computer.

    Windows Services

    Microsoft Windows can also automatically load a program through Windows services. Follow the steps below to check the services currently setup on your computer.

    User must have administrative rights to perform the steps below.

    The Startup folder has been in Windows since its beginning. It allows the user to select applications to automatically launch during the Windows initiation process. However, in Windows 8 finding and using the Startup folder can be difficult.

    If you search for “startup” from the Start screen in Windows 8, you will not find the folder in the results.

    The Startup folder is well hidden from tweaks and manipulation in Windows 8. However, here are the steps you can follow to add any application to the Startup folder in Windows 8.

    1. First of all launch the Run dialog box. This can be done by pressing Win+R key from anywhere in Windows 8.

    2. Paste %AppData% in the Run box and select Ok.

    3. This will generate your AppData folder structure which will appear in the address bar. Paste the following code after what is generated in the address bar:

    4. Next, go to the shortcut of the app that you want to put in the Startup folder. Hold the right button of the mouse and drag the shortcut of that application to the Startup folder. You will be prompted with a few options. Select Create Shortcuts here.

    The shortcut of your desired applications will appear in the Startup folder. All shortcuts to apps placed within this folder will be executed automatically when Windows goes through the Startup process.

    David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.

    Last Updated on October 12, 2020 by admin 2 Comments

    There are a couple of reasons why you would want to stop some programs from loading with Windows. Maybe Windows is booting very slowly and you want speed up the boot by disabling unnecessary startup programs; or maybe a recently installed application is automatically starting with Windows and showing annoying popups every time you turn on the PC.

    Stopping a program from loading with Windows is pretty simple in Windows. Windows 8.1, as with other versions of Windows, allows you disable programs that start or load with Windows. But unlike previous versions of Windows, the option to remove startup programs isn’t present in System Configuration Utility and has been moved to Task Manager.

    NOTE: Be sure not to disable crucial programs such as your antivirus, boot camp manager (if you’re running Windows 8.1 on Mac) and video/audio drivers.

    Follow the given below instructions to disable startup programs in Windows 8.1:

    Step 1: Open Task Manager. There are a couple of ways open Task Manager in Windows 8.1. You can either press Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys, right-click on Taskbar and click Task Manager, or type Task Manager in the Start screen and press Enter key to open the same.

    Step 2: Once the Task Manager is launched, click More details button located lower-left corner to see all tabs and options in Task Manager.

    Step 3: Switch to the Startup tab.

    Step 4: Here, locate the program that you wish to prevent from loading with Windows, right-click on the program name and click Disable option to disable it. Alternatively, you can select a program name and then click on the Disable button located lower-right corner to stop the selected program from starting with Windows.

    As you can see in the above picture, startup manager in Windows 8 and 8.1 shows the impact of a program on Windows startup speed under Startup impact column. We suggest you refer the startup impact and disable programs accordingly.

    In simple words, disabling programs that have low impact on startup speed might not speed up the overall boot process. However, you can and you should disable unnecessary programs that start with Windows.

    And if you’re not sure about a program’s name in the startup list and would like to know more about the program name before disabling it, simply right-click on the program name, and then click Search online option to search online about the program using your default search engine in your default web browser.

    For instance, if you’re not sure what Hkcmd module and want to know more about the program before disabling it, you can right-click on it, click Search online about the program. This is a useful feature to avoid disabling crucial programs.

    And if you’re looking for an advanced tool to view everything from apps to drives to codecs that load with Windows, we suggest you download and run Sysinternals Autorus program (it’s free).

    If you’re not upgrading your computer to Windows 11, you can still improve your experience by changing these default settings.

    Alison DeNisco Rayome

    Alison DeNisco Rayome is a managing editor at CNET, now covering home topics after writing about services and software. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.

    Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

    Sarah is a freelance writer and CNET How To blogger. Her main focus is Windows, but she also covers everything from mobile tech to video games to DIY hardware projects. She likes to press buttons and see what happens, so don’t let her near any control panels.

    Microsoft launched Windows 11 , its latest operating system, last October. The OS reached broad deployment earlier this year after a staggered rollout spanning half a year, meaning it’s now ready for all compatible computers . ( Here’s how to download it if you’re ready.) However, the system requirements for Windows 11 mean that older computers may need to continue running Windows 10. And like any operating system, Windows 10 has a few default settings that are less than ideal.

    Some are just annoying (you don’t really need Cortana “getting to know you”), while others will actually slow down your device, show you tons of notifications and ads and collect more of your information than you might be comfortable with. As long as Windows 10 is still what’s powering your computer, it’s worth it to optimize your settings to make sure your PC is running the best it can.

    You’ll want to spend just a few minutes looking into these settings and potentially turning them off, for the sake of privacy, speed and convenience. Here are seven default settings that you can disable in Windows 10. (You can also check out some top Windows 10 tips and tricks and how to troubleshoot common Windows 10 problems .)

    File-sharing updates

    A feature Windows 10 added is an optimized update delivery system that lets you download updates from other Windows 10 computers over the Internet (not just from Microsoft’s servers). The catch is that your computer is also used as an update-sharing hub for other Windows 10 users.

    This feature is turned on by default, but you can turn it off by going to Settings > Update & security > Advanced options > Delivery optimization and toggling off Allow downloads from other PCs.

    Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

    Annoying notifications

    The Windows 10 Action Center is a handy central hub for all of your notifications — apps, reminders, recently installed programs. But notification overload is definitely a thing, especially when you add unnecessary notifications (such as Windows tips) into the mix.

    To get your notifications under control, go to Settings > System > Notifications & actions.

    Turn off things like “Get tips, tricks and suggestions when you use Windows” or “Show me the Windows welcome experience after updates and occasionally when I sign in to highlight what’s new and suggested” as well as any unwanted notifications from individual apps.

    Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

    Start menu ads

    Microsoft pushes its Windows Store apps — so much so that you may be seeing apps you never downloaded in your Start menu. These suggested apps are basically ads.

    Turn off these pesky ads by going to Settings > Personalization > Start > Show suggestions occasionally in Start. For more information, check out our Windows 10 Start menu guide .

    Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

    Targeted ads from third-party apps

    Microsoft is definitely keeping tabs on your preferences and browsing habits in Windows 10. You even have a unique advertising ID (tied to your Microsoft account), which the company uses to show you targeted ads. Oh, and Microsoft also shares this advertising ID profile with third-party apps from the Windows Store, unless you turn this information sharing off.

    You can turn off sharing this type of info by going to Settings > Privacy > General and toggling off Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app activity (Turning this off will reset your ID).

    Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

    Cortana ‘getting to know you’

    Cortana, your adaptive personal assistant in Windows 10, gets, well, pretty personal with the information it collects about you, such as speech and handwriting patterns and typing history, which you may consider to be just a little creepy.

    You can stop Cortana from “getting to know you,” and clear that information from your device, by going to Settings > Privacy > Inking & typing and toggling the option off.

    Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

    Apps running in the background

    In Windows 10, by default, many apps run in the background (even if you don’t have them open). These apps can receive information, send notifications, download and install updates and otherwise use up your bandwidth and your battery. If you’re using a mobile device and/or a metered connection , you may want to turn this feature off.

    To do so, go to Settings > Privacy > Background apps and either toggle off Let apps run in the background or toggle off each app individually.

    Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

    All the syncing

    Windows 10 is all about syncing. Everything (system settings, themes, passwords, search history) syncs across all your signed-in devices by default. But not all of us want our search history to sync between our phones and our computers, so here’s how to turn syncing off.

    To turn off settings syncing (including themes and passwords), go to Settings > Accounts > Sync your settings. You can turn off all settings syncing, or you can selectively turn off specific settings.

    Disable Applications from Running on Startup

    Lesson 15: Disable Applications from Running on Startup

    Disable applications from running on startup

    You may not realize it, but your computer runs several applications as soon as it starts. While this is necessary for your computer to function, too many applications running on startup can slow down your computer. Among other ways to keep your computer running smoothly, you can disable applications from running on startup to improve its performance.

    Consider before disabling anything

    Before you disable an application from starting, consider whether you should. You don’t need to disable most applications, but disabling the ones you don’t always need or ones that are demanding on your computer’s resources can make a big difference. If you use the program every day or if it’s necessary for the operation of your computer, you should leave it enabled on startup. You can do an Internet search for the name of a program if you aren’t sure what it is or what it does.

    Disable in a program’s own settings

    Some programs have a built-in setting to enable or disable them from running on startup. Each program is different, but it’s usually in a settings or configuration menu. Many programs don’t have a startup setting because most operating systems can automatically manage which programs run on startup.

    Disable in Windows 8 and 10

    In Windows 8 and 10, the Task Manager has a Startup tab to manage which applications run on startup. On most Windows computers, you can access the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc, then clicking the Startup tab. Select any program in the list and click the Disable button if you don’t want it to run on startup.

    Disable in Windows 7 and earlier

    In Windows 7 and earlier, the process is a little more complicated. These settings are in the System Configuration utility, also known as msconfig.

    1. Open the Start menu and locate the search box. Note: If you’re using Windows XP, click Run on the right side of the Start menu.
    2. In either the search box or the Run dialog, type msconfig and press Enter.

    Unlike the Task Manager in newer versions of Windows, the System Configuration utility in older Windows versions can include essential Windows processes. Be sure you know what you’re disabling, or you could damage your operating system!

    New to Windows 10 and wondering how to manage modern and traditional desktop apps? Here’s a definitive guide on how to manage all apps.

    If you’re new to Windows 10, you might be wondering how to manage the apps that come pre-installed and that you can download from the Microsoft Store. You might also want to know how to manage traditional desktop apps. Here’s a look at how to find, install, update, and uninstall apps on Windows 10.

    Apps on Windows 10

    Modern or Metro-style apps were first introduced on Windows 8 – the OS that most users skipped because it was so touch-centric. These apps have been extended (and improved) on Windows 10 as Universal Windows Platform (UWP), formerly called “Windows Store” apps, and work across all compatible devices.

    For example, universal apps now open on the desktop just like any other program. On Windows 8, they open full screen. You needed a utility like Stardock’s ModernMix to get them to work correctly on a desktop. On Windows 10, these apps work on the desktop or in Tablet Mode on a touch-enabled device like a Microsoft Surface, for example.

    You can (of course) still install and run the traditional desktop apps that you are used to and have run for years on older versions of Windows. Apps like Gimp or Photoshop for example.

    Windows 10 has continued to evolve over the years and apps have been known under different names. Terms like “Metro”, “Modern”, “UWP”, or “PWA” are used by Microsoft for developers. You as an end-user (whether they are traditional desktop programs or not) can simply call them “Apps”.

    Finding Apps

    If you have a new Windows 10 system you’ll find some apps are preinstalled. Just click the Start button to find them. Or, you can hit the Windows key on your keyboard to open Start.

    Examples of apps that come preinstalled from Microsoft are Mail, Calendar, Photos, Microsoft News, and Movies & TV. Note that you might also find some preinstalled apps from your PC’s manufacturer.

    You can find more apps in the Microsoft Store by going to Start > Microsoft Store. Or you can click the Microsoft Store app icon that is pinned to the taskbar.

    In the store you’ll find featured apps, top free or paid apps, suggested apps, and more. You can read the description of the apps, see user reviews, and screenshots – just like an app store on other platforms. In fact, the store itself is considered an app. The store contains more than just apps, too. For more, check out our article: What is the Microsoft Store App on Windows 10?

    Installing Apps from the Windows 10 Store

    If you find an app you want in the Microsoft Store, just select the Install, Get, or Buy button at the top of the app’s description page.

    Then you can monitor the progress of the download. During this time, you can pause or cancel it before it completes.

    I should mention that if you’re looking at the paid app, usually it provides a free trial you can use to try before you buy.

    Once the app installs, you can open it directly from the Store and it will appear on the Start menu. It will appear under the Recently Added section at the top-left side.

    Apps on the Start menu are listed in alphabetical order on the lefthand side and you can scroll down to find the app you need. Or, to get to apps faster, make sure to read our article on how to find apps by its first letter from the Start menu.

    Uninstalling Apps on Windows 10

    Uninstalling an app is as easy as doing it on an iPhone. Locate the app’s tile or icon in the Start menu, right-click, and click Uninstall.

    Then you’ll see the message below verifying you want to uninstall the app. Select Uninstall again. Also, note that you can reinstall any app you’ve downloaded before.

    You can also right-click traditional desktop apps to uninstall them, but it requires an extra step. The Programs and Features section of the classic Control Panel will open up so you can uninstall the app.

    Note: The problem with uninstalling desktop programs via Programs and Features is it leaves junk behind like temp folders, files, and Registry settings. For a clean uninstall of traditional desktop programs, read our article: How Do I Completely Uninstall Software?

    Update Windows 10 Apps

    Windows 10 will automatically update modern apps you get from the store in the background by default. But you can turn that setting off if you want. To do so, open the Store, select the See more “three dots” button next to your profile icon at the top, and click Settings from the menu.

    Under the Settings section, under App updates, turn the button on or off to update apps automatically.

    Even if you have automatic updates turned on, you might like to keep on top of app updates and manually update them. To do that, open the Store, click the three dots next to your profile icon, and click Downloads and updates.

    Then click the Check for updates button. Checking for app updates manually is worth doing after getting a new build of Windows 10 or if there are new features you want quicker.

    More About Windows 10 Apps

    If you upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10, this “newbie” article should get you started. Once you start getting more acclimated to managing apps on Windows 10 apps you’ll want to check out some of our other guides linked below:

    I should also note that Microsoft started a new strategy for getting its own apps and apps from third-party developers into the spotlight by advertising them on the Start menu. If you think that’s too intrusive, read our article on how to disable the app advertising.

    Speaking of the Windows 10 Store, make sure to read our article on how to rent movies or TV shows and play them on the Movies & TV app.

    If you have any more questions or thoughts about Windows 10 apps, leave a comment below. Or, for further discussion on all things Win 10, head to our Windows 10 forums.

    Note: Parts of this article have been updated to reflect changes to Windows 10 over the years.

    Controlling startup time and performance.

    This is an unanswerable question.

    For many Windows startup programs, the answer will be “I just don’t know.”

    But there are definitely steps you can take to understand much of what is happening at startup and make a few decisions for yourself.

    Windows Startup Programs

    Windows Task Manager will show you the list of programs that start automatically when you sign in. Which ones you can turn off depends on what you use and need, as well as the design of the software. If you don’t need the software at all, consider uninstalling it completely. If the software has its own “run on startup” setting, turn that off. It’s safest to leave startup items turned on otherwise, but experimenting is also safe. In the long run, the return is usually not worth the effort.

    There’s no single answer

    There is no “minimum set” of startup programs I can list here that would work for everyone.

    Every machine is different, everyone has different software installed, and everyone has different ideas of what is and is not important. Everyone uses their computer in different ways.

    Instead, I’ll give you an overview of the steps I take to manage my startup.

    Examine Task Manager Startup

    The first place to turn to 1 is the Startup tab in Task Manager. Right-click on the Start menu, click on Task Manager, click on More details, if present, and then click on the Startup tab. (In prior versions of Windows, you can run the “msconfig” utility for a similar list.)

    Here’s an image of what I see when I run it on my primary Windows 11 Pro system.

    Task Manager – Startup (mine). Click for larger image. (Screenshot: askleo.com)

    Yes, I’m a “power user” and have many, many entries in my Startup. You may have fewer — or perhaps even more. The key is not what’s on my list, but how to evaluate what’s on yours.

    Here’s a shorter list from one of my example Windows 11 machines.

    Task Manager – Startup. (Screenshot: askleo.com)

    Evaluating startup entries

    For each entry in the list, ask yourself:

    Is this something I use? If not, consider uninstalling the software completely rather than just worrying about the Startup entry.

    Is this something needing to run at startup? In many cases, the answer is a clear “yes”. Dropbox or Macrium Reflect, for example, are tools I installed and are things I want running from the moment I sign in.

    In cases where it isn’t clear, you might take a few moments to research the tool — particularly if Task Manager indicates that the “Startup impact” is high. Right-click on the item and you’ll find a “Search online” option that is a good place to start.

    AcroTray is an example of a tool that’s been around for ages that most people feel doesn’t need to run at startup, if ever. (It’s associated with Adobe Acrobat Reader.) Most research will clearly tell you that it can be safely disabled.

    If you’re still not sure about an item:

    • You can safely leave it alone. (This is my typical recommendation.)
    • On the other hand, items in the Task Manager Startup list can generally be disabled without serious problems. At worst, some program or feature will fail to work, and you can return to the Startup list and re-enable it.

    Disabling startup entries

    Before you disable anything in the Startup tab, check the options (or settings) for the associated application. Very often the application itself will have a “start with Windows” or “run on sign-in” option you can turn off without resorting to Task Manager’s list. This is the preferred way, as it allows the application to make additional adjustments if any are required.

    If that option is not available, then it’s easy to disable items in Task Manager.

    You can see that about half of the entries in my long startup list are already disabled. To disable an item, just right-click on it and click on Disable.

    Disabling AcroTray in Task Manager Startup. (Screenshot: askleo.com)

    If you decide you need the startup entry later, you can return to the list, right-click on it again, and click on Enable.

    Needless to say, since doing this affects startup behavior, you have to reboot

    Related

    What about Windows Services? That’s a significantly more complex minefield to wade into. What Windows Services Can I Turn Off? has more.

    Where’s the anti-malware?

    One thing you won’t find on my list is anti-malware

    When in doubt, don’t.

    Some items are persistent

    One annoyance I’ve encountered is that some programs are extremely persistent. You disable an entry only to find it reset later after you’ve run it manually or (more commonly) accepted an update.

    Unless the program is truly expendable, (at which point I consider uninstalling it completely), I leave the startup item in place if it’s going to be that persistent.

    Is all this worth it?

    In my opinion, no.

    In practice, this can be a lot of effort for little return unless you’re experiencing a serious problem and are trying to diagnose a solution.

    It’s tempting to want a “lean and clean” machine, and I totally understand that. The issue is that most of these startup items are minor offenders in the big picture. Some take up visible space in the notification area

    The notification area, or system notification area, is an area at the right end of the Windows task bar, in which applications and system components place notification and other utility icons.

    The notification area is also sometimes referred to as the “tray”, because tray was the name of a similar feature in older versions of Windows.
    (Click on the term for full definition.)

    That’s not to say that many might be totally unnecessary because, in concept, many — if not most — are. The services they perform could be designed so as not to require software to be resident all the time. The vendors have chosen to write their software this way. It’s annoying and unnecessary.

    But it is what it is.

    In general, I don’t think it’s worth the time and effort to try and pare it down beyond the obvious.

    Do this

    Sure, take a few moments and look for low-hanging fruit that’s easy and clear to uninstall and/or disable.

    Then spend the leftover time subscribing to Confident Computing for more tips that’ll help more effectively. Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

    Related Questions

    Is it OK to disable all startup programs?

    Yes and no. It’s generally safe to disable all startup programs, meaning it will not harm your computer. However, disabling all startup programs will probably cause some of the programs you use not to function as expected. As an example, disabling Dropbox’s startup program will prevent it from syncing files to and from your Dropbox folder.

    Where is the Windows startup folder?

    One of several places Windows looks for startup entries to run automatically on sign-in is the Windows Startup folder. The easiest way to locate it is to “Run” (Windows Key + R) “ shell