How to Prevent Windows Apps from Launching on Startup
One of the most frustrating things about Windows is how easily so many apps like Adobe Acrobat, iTunes, and Spotify start automatically as soon as you log into Windows, whether you need them or not.
There are certain types of programs you want to start automatically, such as antivirus and webcam software. However, many applications sneak unnecessarily into your startup routine, consuming memory and resources and potentially hampering your PC’s performance. Don’t worry, because you can fight back.
Windows has long given you a way to view and disable your startup programs. Those who used older versions of Windows might 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 go through the Settings screen or Task Manager instead. Here’s how to deal with unwanted startup apps.
Disable Startup Applications in Windows Settings
Go to Settings > Apps > Startup to display a list of all applications that can start 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 an enabled or disabled state to let you know whether or not that app is currently in your startup routine. To disable an app, turn off its switch.
Below the switch is an impact indicator. An application can be labeled with one of four different impact indicators: No Impact, Low Impact, Medium Impact, or High Impact. These indicators measure the impact of a startup program on your PC’s processor and disk drive during startup.
The higher the impact indicator, the longer it takes for a program to load, which increases the time it takes for Windows to fully boot. An application with a status of Not measured means that its impact has not yet been determined.
When reviewing which apps to eliminate from your startup routine, consider which ones are rated as high and medium, as disabling them will have the biggest effect on speeding up your system on startup. Disabling those categorized as low impact or no impact will have little or no effect on your boot time, but it may still be worth it as disabling them can free up valuable RAM.
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Disable Startup Applications in Task Manager
Examining your startup apps through Task Manager makes it easier for you to find each one to better assess whether or not to disable it.
- In Windows 10, right-click on any blank area of the taskbar in Windows 10. From the context menu, click Task Manager command.
- In Windows 11, click the Search charm, type Task Managerthen select Task Manager from the results.
In the Task Manager window, click the tab to start (you may need to click More details first). You will see a list of all applications that start automatically each time Windows loads. Some of the programs you will probably recognize; others may be unfamiliar. The challenge here is to track down those who don’t need to boot up without disturbing those who do.
By default, the list should be sorted by name, but you can click on any header to sort the list by software vendor, startup status, and startup impact. To exclude an application from 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, then make sure you and Windows can live without the program running on startup. If you’re having trouble with a program you’ve disabled, return to the Settings screen or Task Manager and welcome it back into your startup routine.
If you can’t identify a specific app by name or publisher, right-click it and select Properties. This opens the file’s Properties window which might reveal more details about it, including a description and version number. If you are unsure whether or not you should disable launching a certain application at startup, right-click on it and select Search online.
Windows runs a Bing search in your web browser for this program. You can then browse the results for information and advice on whether or not the program should be prohibited from starting. The ultimate goal should be to use Startup Impact status combined with the information you find via web searches to choose the right apps to disable.
Third-party boot managers
If you think Windows’ built-in startup managers aren’t robust or efficient enough, you can often find even more startup items to examine using various third-party apps.
Automatic executions is a free option for power users that shows you startup apps, browser extensions, scheduled tasks, services, drivers, and more. Browsing through the large number of items can be confusing and intimidating at first; you don’t want to disable a necessary and important application or other component. However, if you understand all or most of the entries listed, AutoRuns is a powerful and useful startup manager.
Free Entrance The utility reveals all startup programs, processes and services. You can view all items or narrow the list by folder location or registry entry. Before trying to disable an item, you can change its settings to control how and when it starts. You can also launch the startup item directly from Starter to see exactly what it does. Starter even lets you change the appearance, layout, and functionality of the utility.
The free version of Start delay offers a spin on the usual startup management tricks. Startup Delayer starts by showing all of your startup items as well as all running tasks and services. Right click on any element to view its properties, launch it to see what it does, search Google or the Process Library for more information turn it off or delay it.
If you choose to delay a program, you can control how long it has to wait until it starts to prevent multiple apps from loading at once. By upgrading to the paid version, you have the ability to schedule exactly when certain apps should open.