Basic Computer Skills: 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.

Dropbox Preferences showing startup option

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.

Windows 8 Task Manager showing Startup tab

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.
    Typing msconfig in the search box in the Start menu
  3. In the System Configuration window, click the Startup tab. The check boxes to the left of each program name indicate if it runs on startup. Once you've changed the selections, click the Apply button.
    The Startup tab in the System Configuration window.

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!

Disable in OS X

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of the screen, then select System Preferences.
    The Apple menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. In the System Preferences window, open Users & Groups.
    Icons from the System Preferences window
  3. In the Users & Groups window, click the Login Items tab. Select an application and click the minus button to remove it from the startup list, or click the plus button to add an application to the list if you want it to run on startup.
    Login Items window in Mac OS