Anybody that has been a geek for a while is already aware of the greatness of the tiny Startup Control Panel written by the legendary Mike Lin, but I’m here to tell you that it’s still just as useful today as it was 8 years ago.

Sure, there’s a utility built into Windows Defender that can help you manage your startup items (just type startup into the control panel search box) and click the link for “Stop a program from running at startup”.

The Software Explorer feature in Windows Defender allows you to select items and then disable them if you choose, although you’ll need to click the “Show for all users” button for most of the functionality to work.

So what’s the problem with the Windows Defender version?

  • You can’t get to the Software Explorer if you don’t have Windows Defender enabled. If you are using another anti-spyware tool then this is most likely the case.
  • Takes way too many steps to get to Software Explorer.
  • It’s big and clumsy.

Compare that to the simple and easy to use features in Startup Control Panel by Mike Lin:

  • A single executable of only 76k.
  • Easy to access – just unzip it wherever you want and it’s available. I put mine in the Quick Launch bar.
  • You can see which startup section the items have been added in.
  • You can switch startup items between common and your user account only.
  • Doesn’t require a resident process that slows down your computer.

To disable an item, all you have to do is uncheck the box, and that item is now gone. You can restore items from the Deleted tab. (It doesn’t close running applications, you’ll have to do that yourself or just restart)

The only issue in Windows Vista is that you need to run the utility as administrator. You can do it each time by right-clicking and choosing Run as administrator.

Or you can set it to always run in Administrator mode by right-clicking, choosing properties and then the Compatibility tab. Check the box for “Run this program as an administrator”.

I’ll stick with the trusty Startup Control Panel.

Download Startup Control Panel from  (And notice that he’s got a donate button)

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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