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Have you ever wanted a program to start when you boot up Windows, or had a program that starts when you boot up Windows that annoyed you and you wanted it to stop? I’m going to assume that you have, or else you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog entry in which I will cover those topics. Many programs set themselves up to start up with Windows during their installation, even when there is no obvious reason why they would need to, and depending on how many you have and how slow they are, this can add significantly to your startup time. On the other hand, some software is useful to have start up and run without thinking about it, such as messaging clients or specialized tools. I was recently reminded of this topic while configuring a Dynamic DNS client, which needed to check if my internet IP had changed on a regular basis. Since I restart my PC about once a day or every other day, I decided to add it to the startup list, so that I wouldn’t have to remember to run it.

How to Add Startup Programs:

The process of adding a program to startup in Windows 7 is fairly straightforward, all you have to do is go to Start -> All Programs and add a shortcut to the Startup folder that appears there:

Unfortunately, Microsoft has decided to complicate matters by removing this folder from the Start menu listing in Windows 10, but it still exists and you can still use it in the same way. To find it, you need to go to:

C:\Users\<Your Username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

The AppData folder is hidden by default, so you will either need to unhide it, or paste the address into the Windows Explorer address bar, add your user folder name, and hit enter.

You can then add the shortcut to your program that you want to start with Windows to this folder. If you plan on doing this more than once, or want to make changes later, you may want to make a shortcut to the folder itself that is somewhere more convenient.

How to Remove Startup Programs:

Let’s say you have programs starting with Windows that you don’t want doing so. This is a more common case, because many applications seem to think they are so vitally important that they need to slow down your logon and/or pop up annoying windows immediately. There are a number of programs that enable this type of behavior when they are installed, without consulting or informing the user. Only programs that you have manually added to startup will show up in the Startup folder, so you’ll need to use a different method to solve this problem. Windows does maintain a list of programs that launch at startup, and you can disable or delete entries on the list. I have typically used a very useful third-party application called CCleaner to do this (it includes many other useful PC maintenance tools as well), but in Windows 10 Microsoft has improved the Task Manager to enable it to also edit startup applications. Open the Task Manager (Control, Alt, Delete), click “More details” down at the bottom, and go to the Startup tab.

It will display a list of all programs with startup entries, and you can enable or disable them by right-clicking. Disabling them will stop them from starting up, but they will stay in the list. CCleaner allows you to delete them from the list entirely, in addition to disabling them. If you decide to go with CCleaner, you can find the startup editor under Tools -> Startup (make sure you’re in the Windows tab, which it should put you in by default). Both applications show and manipulate the same list, and it will take effect when you restart Windows.

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