How to Add Programs to Startup in Windows 10

Launch your favorite apps every time you boot up

When you start Windows 10, applications that are designated as startup programs are launched as Windows 10 starts up. There are three ways to manage which programs run when you start your computer, but only one of these methods is useful 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 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.

A man adds programs to the Windows 10 startup folder.
 Nipitphon Na Chiangmai / EyeEm / Getty

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.

How to add programs to startup in Windows 10:

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

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 run dialog box.
  2. Type shell:startup in the run dialog box and press Enter on your keyboard.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 run dialog box.
  3. Right click in the startup folder and click New.

    A screenshot of the Windows 10 startup folder.
  4. Click Shortcut.

    A screenshot of creating a shortcut in the Windows 10 startup folder.
  5. Type the location of the program if you know it, or click Browse to locate the program on your computer.

    A screenshot of creating a shortcut in Windows 10.

    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.

  6. Click Next.

    A screenshot of adding Audacity to the Windows 10 startup folder.
  7. Type a name for the shortcut, and click Finish.

    A screenshot of creating a shortcut in Windows.
  8. Create additional links for any other programs you want to run automatically when Windows starts.

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

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.