How-To Geek

How to Control the Order of Startup Programs in Windows

You are probably very familiar with the startup programs function of Windows. While you can specify the applications you want to launch at the start of Windows, the ability to control the order in which they start is not available. However, there are a couple of ways you can easily overcome this limitation and control the startup order of applications.

Note: this tutorial should work for any version of Windows, including Windows Server.

Using WinPatrol

There are most likely several utilities which provide this functionality, but we are going to discuss using the popular WinPatrol monitoring application which features a delay startup control. As you can probably guess, this function allows you to specify a certain amount of time to wait before opening the respective application.

WinPatrol makes this process very easy. On the Startup Programs tab, locate the applications you want to delay the startup for, right-click and select the “Move to Delayed Start Program List” option.


After selecting this option for all the target applications, click the Delayed Start tab. Here you can add additional applications manually and set the respective delay by highlighting the target entry and clicking “Delay Options”.


Now set the delay time and any respective parameters.


Since WinPatrol initiates the launch commands, the delay time is respective to when it opens. So, of course, you must have WinPatrol as a startup application itself (which is the application default).


Using a Batch Script

If you do not want to install or rely on “yet another application” or you simply want to get a bit geeky, a batch script can be used. Anyone can do this as it is very easy to setup and requires no batch programming knowledge.

Open your Windows Startup folder by going to Start > All Programs, right-click on the Startup folder and selecting Open.


When the listing of programs appear, create a new text file named “StartupOrder.bat”.


Edit the StartupOrder.bat file in Notepad to add the delay time and applications you want to launch. For this task, we will need the use of two batch commands: TIMEOUT and START.

The use of the TIMEOUT command is to specify the delay. Usage is simply this:

TIMEOUT /T seconds-to-wait

For example the following two commands would wait 10 seconds and 2 minutes (120 seconds), respectively, before continuing:


The use of the START command is to launch the target application. The reason we use the START command instead of just entering the program name is to tell the batch script to launch the target application and move on without waiting until we close it. Our usage of this command is:

START “” “C:PathToApplication.exe”

For example, the following two commands would open Notepad and the Calculator without waiting for the other to close (i.e. at the same time):

START “” “Notepad.exe”
START “” “Calc.exe”

Putting it Together

All you need to do to get your custom StartupOrder.bat script working it combine the delay (TIMEOUT) and launch (START) commands in the order you want them processed.

Here is the batch script which would implement the same startup delay we specified in the WinPatrol example above:


REM Total Delay = 10 seconds
START “” “C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice14OUTLOOK.EXE”

REM Total Delay = 30 seconds
START “” “C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice14WINWORD.EXE”
START “” “C:Program Files (x86)CitrixGoToMeeting457g2mstart.exe”

REM Total Delay = 50 seconds
START “” “C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft OfficeOffice14EXCEL.EXE”

You can use this example to get you started and customize as needed.


Download WinPatrol

Jason Faulkner is a developer and IT professional who never has a hot cup of coffee far away. Interact with him on Google+

  • Published 01/3/11

Comments (13)

  1. Roi

    Just writing the name of the program returns immediately for me. Is that normal?

  2. rroberto

    I have long been happy enough with Win Patrol to purchase their Plus upgrade. But now I’m using it with a free beta called Soluto…some functions overlap, but both have unique abilities and they don’t conflict.

    The result is a faster boot and a cross-check on new apps installing surprises in your boot sequence even when you check off install options to prevent such unwanted intrusions.

  3. Xps

    I’ll check out WinPatrol Plus, but in the mean time I’ve been using Startup Delayer ( and Autoruns ( to customize my startup process.

  4. rover3500

    Sounds to me like u opened a command window instead of creating a new text file and change the txt extension to bat(or cmd)

  5. 1fastbullet

    My Startup folder is empty and I don’t know why. Right-clicking it and selecting “open” shows only a DESKTOP.INI file.
    Any idea what’s going on with that?

  6. kusuma

    startup delayer
    Compatible with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/XP64/Vista

  7. seenu

    When malware installs in your computer it hides in startup menu. this S/W informs you when new prog resides in start menu.
    Read This:

  8. Jason Faulkner

    @Roi – If you launch a program via the command line without using the START command, yes the program will open immediately, but processing in the command line/batch file will not continue until you have closed the respective program.

  9. Jason Faulkner

    @1fastbullet – It could be that you have no startup programs specific to your user account. Try selecting “Open for all Users” to view the startup programs for all users.

  10. Nick

    I’ve been using Windows Task Scheduler to do the same thing (Vista/7).

  11. Kevalin

    A little late to ask, I know, and rather noobish… but what is the value of controlling the order of one’s start-up programs?

  12. Jason Faulkner

    @Kevalin – Usually you don’t need to, but if one program takes a long time to load (and slows everything else down) or if one program “depends” on another being open, you can use something like this.

  13. F. Gordon

    TIMEOUT is not recognized in XP – any workaround other than WP?

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