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Stop an Application from Running at Startup in Windows Vista

Back in the old days, there were a lot of places an application could hook itself to run at startup. You had to check the registry in more than one place, as well as your start menu. With Windows Vista, there’s a built-in panel that handles all that for you.

To quickly get to this panel, you can open Control Panel, and then type “startup” into the search box. The link for “Stop a program from running at startup” shows up immediately. You could have also opened Windows Defender and fooled around with the menus until you find the right spot, but this seems quicker to me.

Now you can see the Windows Defender screen that lets you manage the startup programs.

You can choose to Remove or just Disable any startup item using this panel, as well as lots of other useful information so that you can see what each item is.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/3/07

Comments (51)

  1. Richie

    Vista looks pretty good, can’t wait to get my hands on it. There is a menu like that forr win XP. run>MSCONFIG. You get the same kind of menu, but without the descriptions for each process.

  2. zaxy

    Same functions exist in Vista, except they are more accessible via GUI.

  3. akronite

    to access or change startup programs, you can just type in startup in the “start” search, or in msconfig. it easier than going into control panel

  4. randy

    umm it seems when i try to stop disable or remove a program its lightened out meaning i cant click it any suggestions?

  5. Rodger

    Note I tried to stop Symantec security from loading at startup but the bit defender would not allow the change, most of the other programs could be controled with bit defender.
    I want to install a different Security Suite but I cannot until I can find out how to keep Symantec security from loading at startup

  6. mandy

    Randy, the reason that you’re not able to remove or disable the startup programs is because you need to press show all users as these programs start when any user starts the computer and so has to be changed for everyone.

    It’s much less complicated than changing startup on Windows XP once that is out of the way!

  7. Chris

    dude you should put how to compress all of the files on your c:\ drive not for me but if i did not know how i would want to know, if you already have it than that was my bad, but it like doubles the amount of free space on your drive but all applications run properly, it does not delete anything. but i take like 6 hours if u have had yout computer for a while and this is the first time u are doing it. i have a video on youtube of how to do u can also post this on the site
    this is the url:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=glERHCPYyGw

    consider it
    ;)

  8. neil

    I knew this, but somehow it never worked, as the programs i actually want to disable usually have their remove and disable buttons disabled(they werent only system apps, even 3rd party stuff)
    now i have to rely on an app called vista manager to do it…

  9. OutCell

    @neil

    Mandy is correct, just click on “Show all users” in BitDefender and then you can control all the apps in there..

    Thanks for this nice tut

  10. Ian Russell

    The tip re stopping programs from running at startup in Vista does not work with my VAIO vista laptop.
    First, if control panel is in “classic view” typing “startup” in the search box returns nothing. Switching to “home view” for vista, and typing “startup” does exactly as you describe. However, when I start defender and find the program I want to stop/delete from startup – none of the options “remove”, “disable” or “enable” are active!!!!!!
    So I can do nothing -and I am logged on as the administrator!

  11. Steph

    I am trying to disable Google Desktop from startup on my Vista machine. When I go the the windows defender and highlight Google Desktop the buttons on the right hand side of the screen are greyed out… (Remove/Disable/Enable)… is there another way to disable this?

  12. jack

    Steph just click on “Show all users” in BitDefender and then you can control all the apps there you can disable, remove or enable.

  13. BlueShadow07

    shortcut for windows defender is to double click the buttom of the notification area…..

  14. whs

    For months I have been trying to find a list of those programs (mostly system programs) that are safe to disable because if you catch the wrong one, you may be in deep yogurt. For some, especially the applications, it is usually obvious. But then there are many that “hide” their identity and one has to reseach them individually. And the right pane does not give a lot of useful info. If anybody can point us to such a list, please post it on the Forum. I am certain that would be useful for many of us.

  15. Don Richesin

    Yes! I’m with whs. I too am confused as to which programs to disable on my startup. HP has told me to manage my “startup” but how. Don

  16. trevor

    Hey is there anyway to disable dell quickset from running at start up or just remove the icon in try? also what does quickset even do???thanks

    trevor

  17. Anshuman

    Can anyone help me, I am having windows vista, I want to disble start up program I disable it using msconfig feature, it disabled at the moment but when I start the program again it tick the entry in msconfig and that program start again. example initially ymessenger is runnig at start up, i have disabled it using msconfig, then i restart my computer so it doesnt running at start up. Now I use ymessenger and then when I restart the computer it runs at start up and I have seen it is automatically enabled in msconfig. I dont know what to do?

  18. angel

    Can anyone help me, I am having windows vista, I want to disble start up program I disable it using msconfig feature, it disabled at the moment but when I start the program again it tick the entry in msconfig and that program start again. example initially ymessenger is runnig at start up, i have disabled it using msconfig, then i restart my computer so it doesnt running at start up. Now I use ymessenger and then when I restart the computer it runs at start up and I have seen it is automatically enabled in msconfig. I dont know what to do?

  19. Melanie

    Mandy,
    Thank you so much for your tip about clicking all users. That’s been driving me nuts since I got this system!

  20. leona

    I have no clue what programs I am able to disable (safe ones) on start up. When I am on the internet (dial-up) pages take longer to load, after about a half hour of surfing, I when I go to change the page the internet says CANNOT DISPLAY THIS PAGE. Then I have reset my default settings and restart my computer..This I am told is because I have too many programs starting at start-up..That is why I am trying to disable some…PLEASE HELP

  21. Jim Sheridan

    If you remove an item from this list how can you get it back in the list?

  22. Don

    I still wish someone would come up with a list of things I can safely disable from my startup menu. don

  23. david

    the program tune up utilities has a section which says what is safe to stop from running at startup for all those who aren’t sure! try this program, setting is found at run tune up, run startup manager,recommendation’s pane is at bottom left

  24. PJ

    “open Control Panel, and then type “startup” into the search box. The link for “Stop a program from running at startup” shows up immediately.” DOES NOT WORK

    Software Explorer then would not disable either Corel Photo Downloader or Download Acclerator Plus version 8.6.4.9 – both options greyed out, even after stopping “currently ruuning programs”.

    Are you sure this fix is supposed to work with all Vista security patches up to date?

  25. Eddy

    My Windows Home Premium fais to start and an error message says “search for Floppy disc drive fails. Press F1 to continue” I do not have a Floppy Disc Drive on the machine and get fed up pressing F1 on every start up. Any clues, anyone? Start-up repair does not, and floppy disc drive A appears on “C” drive list

  26. David

    EDDY you have to change the boot order in your bios to fix the floppy error if you press delete during startup you will be able to access bios settings click on advanced tab and remove your floppy drive from the boot order list for your drives, if you make c drive 1st you will get faster boot times and should no longer see that error

  27. jd2066

    @Eddy: I think that message is coming from the computer BIOS not Windows Vista.
    You just need to go into the BIOS setup and disable the floppy drive.
    The key to get into the BIOS setup and the layout of the BIOS setup can differ between computer models.
    Usually a message like “Press F2 to open setup” appears when booting up and the floppy settings are on the first tab.
    If you don’t see a message like and need help finding the key to press, just start a new post on the forums and list your computer make and model number.

  28. Eddy

    Very many thanks to you both. Have not tried it yet but certainly will.

    The actual message is “Floppy Diskette Seek Failure” I did try the ‘Press F2 to open setup’, selected Floppy Disc to disable and the boot numbers were changed but left the Floppy Disc Showing above them all. Shall try again

    Many thanks again,
    Eddy

  29. Spacegold

    PJ:

    Geek forgot to tell us that this tip does not work if you have Control Panel set to Classic View which many of us do. The search term fails. Switch Control Panel to C..P.. Home and see if it works. It did for me and I was able to get rid of an obnoxious fragment left over from uninstalling an unwanted program. Thanks, Geek.

  30. alex

    I am doing exactly as told and on the same page of Defender but the problem is that it wont let me click on remove or disable for some strange reason. It wont highlight or anything. Can someone help me out here????

  31. david

    alex if you click on the setting show all users in startup should fix the error of being greyed out or untickable! also a program like tune up utilities or vista manager are very good for managing startup items

  32. Rob

    Hi,
    Unlike many of you, I want to allow a program to start that Defender is stopping.

    McAfee Antivirus….

    All exe’s are run as Admin.
    gone to software explorer and found framework service and the McAfee VirusScan
    Enable is grayed out, checked out the classification and it’s not (that’s a surprise (NOT) McAfee do 2 virus updates a month so they would rather you disable Defender and use their AntiSpyware).

    So every time Vista starts I then have to authorize it.

    Question is
    Has anyone found a way to enable any program without killing Defender?

  33. Dale Kinslow

    Lost sound, help
    Big Thank You!

  34. Dale Kinslow

    Help, cannot get any sound from my PC

  35. SamWest

    Doesn’t work for all programs that start with windows. Many, like Norton, are not listed here.

  36. pyta

    Try winpatrol, it’s free and you can control your start-up items real easy. I would get rid of Norton, try avast free. Make sure to use the norton uninstaller from their website or NOTHING will run right on your PC. Norton is worse than AOL for leaving items hidden in the registry.

  37. kl2u

    Hi…got problem to stop one program from running when I boot up my computer. Now solved the problem thanks.

  38. sokea

    hi, i want to restart the window vista. is there some way to do it?

  39. elg

    vista sucks

  40. niceguy

    @Randy

    this was happening to me, click on “view for all users”, it then refreshes the list, and when i went to do it again it worked, they werent lightened out.

  41. Lynchem

    Trying to stop my Blackberry desktop program from loading on startup. (Could kick myself for ticking the “load during startup” box during download!)

    Have followed the instructions as provided and get to the screen show at the very top of this page with no trouble.

    However, like Alex above, the “disable” button is there but it is not a live button after clicking on the Blackberry program.

    I followed David’s suggestion above…but the info that appears in the screen after clicking on the Blackberry program says “Startup Type: All Users Startup Folder” and the disable button is still “greyed” and won’t let me click it.

    If anyone has suggestions, I would love to hear them. Many thanks!

  42. lldlila

    Help? I do not have Administrator privileges on my Home Vista Premium PC. I have an igfxres.dll error on start up and now 2 of my programs will not run because this dll is either in the wrong place or is corrupted. I do not have the permission to delete it or add an new copy of it to the system32 folder. What can I do to get permissions back?

  43. Omaniya

    Hi there,

    Whenever I open my computer I get a msg that says that I have to check whether a file exists!
    This happens in startup
    I went to Windows Defender and saw the aplication in the start up programs list, but It’s is “not yet classified” and I can’t delete it
    The file’s path is in G:\…
    I don’t have a disk called “G”

    Does anyone know??
    How can I stop the annoying msg whenever I open my PC?

  44. Bob

    Well, i cannot disable most of the apps, but i could disable some from start-up. Which is better than nothing!

  45. Tyson

    I can’t seem to find the “Stop a program from Running on Startup” I believe I have a Vista Basic. Can I not make those changes? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    ;)

  46. ValerieP

    Pleasssssssse help: I am trying to stop some allplications from running at starup in VISTA. I got the list of all Startup Programs. The buttons “Remove,” “Disable” or “Enable” on the right are disabled… Not responding. How to get then anabled ? Thank you V

  47. VISTAsucks

    Vista sucks.
    Great idea, lets make the startup controls gui based, which means as soon as you get a virus and windows defender is disabled and the search box gets redirected you are left utterly defenceless!! way to go MS!
    lots of crap on this laptop im trying to clean out for someone and i cant even get to the startup controls.
    Bring back XP! least you can explore the system without all these crap guis

  48. edy

    hi

  49. Daniel

    Every time I try this method it won’t work because windows defender is disabled by security essentials. When I click on stop running programs at startup, it just tells me windows defender is turned off. If I click start windows defender, security essentials blocks it.

  50. Yashvir

    Thanks for the help.. i worked out

  51. Michael Sr.

    I’m trying to remove apps from the desktop of users on my laptop. How do I do that?

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