Many apps include a component that starts along with Windows. These startup apps can be useful, but they can also slow boot time and use up system resources. Here’s how to get them under control.
Windows has long provided tools for managing startup apps. In Windows Vista and 7, you had to dig into tools like Msconfig—which is powerful if a little clunky to use. Windows 8 and 10 include an interface for managing startup apps in a location that makes more sense: Task Manager. Of course, none of these tools let you add things to Windows startup, but if you need to do that, we also have a guide for adding programs, files, and folders to your system startup.
NOTE: Managing startup apps only applies to desktop applications. Universal apps (those you get through the Windows Store) are not allowed to start automatically when Windows starts.
There are several ways of accessing the Task Manager. Perhaps the easiest is to right-click any open space on the taskbar, and then select “Task Manager” from the context menu.
If it’s the first time you’ve ever opened Task Manager, it automatically opens in compact mode—listing only what programs are running. To access the additional features of Task Manager, click the down arrow button next to “More Details.”
In the Task Manager window, switch to the “Startup” tab. This tab displays all apps that start with Windows, along with details like the publisher of the app, whether the app is currently enabled, and how much of an impact the app has on Windows startup. That last metric is just a measurement of how long it takes the app to start.
Before you start disabling apps, it’s worth doing a little research on what the startup app does. Some startup apps are necessary for the correct operation of the operating system or programs that you use. Fortunately, Task Manager makes this easy.
Right-click any app and then choose “Search Online” to perform a web search with keywords that include both the full name of the app and the name of the underlying file. For example, when I perform an online search for PicPick (my image editor), it performs a search for “picpick.exe PicPick.”
When you’re sure you want to prevent an app from starting with Windows, right-click the app and select “Disable” on the context menu.
You can also select the app and click the “Disable button” at the bottom right of the window.
Note that when you disable a startup app, Windows does not stop the app from running immediately. It only prevents it from running automatically. When you’re done disabling apps, go ahead and close Task Manager. The next time you restart your computer, the apps you disabled won’t start along with Windows.
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