Prevent Programs Loading at Windows Startup

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Why to Keep Programs From Starting with Windows

prevent program starts with windows
Prevent Program Starts with Windows.

Preventing unnecessary programs from running at Windows startup is a great way to speed up windows. The following article will show you how to determine what programs run when Windows boots, so you can choose which ones to remove. All programs use system resources (operating memory), so any program not running will reduce memory use and may speed up your PC.

There are 5 places you can prevent programs from automatically loading. These include:

  1. The Startup Folder, under the Start Menu
  2. In the program itself, usually under Tools, Preferences or Options
  3. The System Configuration Utility
  4. The System Registry
  5. The Task Scheduler

Before You Begin, Read Everything

Before you begin, read each area completely. Pay attention to all notes and warnings. Always provide yourself a way to undo an action (i.e., move a shortcut, rather than deleting it first) – that way you can fix any problems you may create while trying to optimize your computer.

Note: A "Shortcut" is a icon that points or links to program or file - it is not the actual program or file.

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Check the Startup Folder and Delete Unwanted Shortcuts

delete items from startup folder
Delete Items From the Startup Folder.

The first and easiest place to check is the Startup folder, under the Start Menu. This folder houses shortcuts for programs set to run when Windows starts up. To remove a program’s shortcut in this folder:

  1. Navigate to the folder (refer to the provided picture)
  2. Right-click on the program
  3. Select “Cut” (to put the shortcut on the clipboard)
  4. Right-click on the Desktop and select “Paste” - The shortcut will appear on your desktop

Once you have finished removing shortcuts from the Startup folder, restart your computer to make sure everything works the way you want.

If everything works after the restart, you can delete the shortcuts from your desktop or drop them in the Recycle Bin. If everything does not work after restart, you can copy and paste the shortcut you need back into the Startup folder.

Note: Removing a shortcut will not actually delete the program from your computer.

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Look Within Programs - Remove Auto Start Options

uncheck auto start option
Uncheck the Auto Start Option.

Sometimes, programs are setup within the program itself to load when Windows starts. To find these programs, look in the tool tray on the right of the taskbar. The icons you see are some of the programs currently running on the computer.

To prevent a program from starting when Windows boots up, open the program and look for an Options Menu. This menu is usually under the Tools menu at the top of the program window (also look under the Preferences menu). When you find the Options menu, look for a checkbox that says “Run program when Windows Starts” – or something to that effect. Uncheck that box and close the program. The program should now not run when Windows starts up again.

For example, I have a program called “Samsung PC Studio 3” that synchronizes my phone with MS Outlook. As you see in the picture, the Options menu has a setting to run this program when Windows starts. By unselecting this checkbox, I avoid launching this program until I actually want to use it.

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Use the System Configuration Utility (MSCONFIG)

Use the System Configuration Utility
Use the System Configuration Utility.

Using the System Configuration Utility (MSCONFIG), instead of the System Registry is safer and will have the same result. You can unselect items in this utility without deleting them. In other words, you can keep them from running when Windows starts and if there is a problem you can select them again in the future, to fix it.

Open the System Configuration Utility:

  1. Click on the Start menu, then click on “Run”
  2. Type "msconfig" into the textbox and click OK (The System Configuration Utility will open).
  3. Click the Startup tab (to see the list of items that automatically load with Windows).
  4. Uncheck the box next to the program name you do not want to start with Windows.
  5. Close this program and restart your computer.

Note: If you're unsure what an item is, resize the Start Item, Command, and Location columns so you can see all information. You may look in the folder indicated in the location column to determine what the item is, or you can search the Internet for more information. Usually programs listed in the Windows or System folders should be allowed to load – leave those alone.

After you uncheck one item, it's a good idea to restart your computer to assure everything works correctly, before you uncheck others. When Windows reboots, you may notice a message stating that Windows is starting in a selective or diagnostic mode. If this appears, click the checkbox, to not display this message in the future.

For example, look at the provided picture. Notice that several items are unchecked. I did this so that Adobe and Google updaters as well as QuickTime would not start automatically. To complete the task, I clicked apply and restarted Windows.

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Use the System Registry (REGEDIT)

Use the System Registry
Use the System Registry.

Note: You do not have need to continue with the procedure on this page. If you have used the MSCONFIG program and unchecked a program you do not want to start with Windows, you can click the next arrow to go to the Task Scheduler section. The System Registry procedure below is optional and not recommended for most Windows users.

System Registry

For users seeking more adventure or thrills, you can open the System Registry. However: Proceed with caution. If you make an error in the System Registry, you may not be able to undo it.

To use the System Registry:

  1. Click on the Start Menu, then click on “Run”
  2. Type "regedit" into the textbox
  3. Click OK
  4. Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Run folder
  5. Right-click on the desired item to select it, press Delete, and confirm your action
  6. Close the System Registry and reboot your computer.

Again, do not delete something if you don’t know what it is. You can uncheck items using the MSCONFIG program without deleting them and re-select them if that causes a problem – that’s why I choose to use that program over going into the System Registry.

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Remove Unwanted Items From the Task Scheduler

Remove Items From Task Scheduler
Remove Items From Task Scheduler.

To prevent unwanted programs from launching automatically when Windows starts, you can remove tasks from the Windows task scheduler.

To navigate to the C:\windows\tasks folder:

  1. Click on the Start menu, then click My Computer
  2. Under Hard Disk Drives, click Local Disk (C:)
  3. Double-click the Windows folder
  4. Double-click the Tasks folder

The folder will contain a list of tasks that are scheduled to run automatically. Drag and drop the unwanted task shortcuts onto the desktop or a different folder (You can delete them at a later time, if you want). Tasks you remove from this folder will not run automatically in the future, unless you set them up to do so again.

For more ways to optimize your Windows computer, also read Top 8 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer.

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