How-To Geek

Still Useful in Vista: Startup Control Panel

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)

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 09/18/07

Comments (15)

  1. Scott

    Startup Control Panel is one of those little programs that has survived various OS installation incarnations and has remained on my PC since near the turn of the century. This simple yet so effective app kills startup programs quicker than msconfig or Autoruns. Kudos to Mike Lin for writting a tiny program that actually does what it says.

  2. Alex

    Why download this when Vista comes with msconfig?

  3. The Geek


    It’s simply a matter of preference… this app also does have some features that msconfig doesn’t.

  4. tomr

    did i mention (in passing, some time ago) that yours is one of the most useful sites i have come across, bar none. thank you once more. i had deleted the software, now you make it alive again on my system

  5. Scott

    @ Alex, and without any annoying restart popup.

  6. Sajjad

    I’ve been using Startup control panel since Windows 98, Now with Vista i still like it, Thanks Mike Lin Great little program

  7. Thomas

    I help a friend with her Vista system (i’m sticking to XP while i can). In fact, I’m the one who installed SCP for her.
    1. Apparently, you can have problems with SCP and Vista (she did). That’s when i noticed the SCP website actually states it’s only compatible through XP. It goes on to endorse the native Vista tool.
    2. You can get to Software Explorer in just a few easy mouse clicks if you create a desktop shortcut to Control Panel > Performance Information and Tools

  8. Earl Truss

    This is all very nice but how do I tell Windows Defender that a program it wants to block is OK to run? I’ve seen lots of similar tips other places about how to stop a program from running at start up but no one has ever explained how to do the opposite thing. Windows Defender has an Allow button or something like this that looks like it would do what I want to do but it is always disabled.

  9. Paul

    To stop Windows Defender for ever, Go to run command and type “services.msc” scroll down [under the names tab] to Windows defender and double click on name or Right mouse button and select properties, STOP it if it is running then select “Disabled”

    I had to do this because it conflicted with Kaspersky Internet Security 2009

  10. cuervo

    I don’t know why the windows defender does not delete or stop the program that runs at startup O_o, should I make a magical thing or what?? I am using window vista home basic….

  11. Ragnar

    Seems like a nice little program that doues what it should.

    BUT: If it’s been around for so long why not add add something ?

    1) Delay of some programs that could run a bit later so your startup is faster
    (I Know this is in startup delayer)

    2) Conditional startup if you’re connected to you home or company LAN
    5all the corp apps tahat pop up when you’re off site a really annying)

  12. Someone

    nice but doesn’t work for Vista SP 2

  13. Someone

    O and I forgot – 64 bit Vista Sp2

  14. Phillip

    I’m using Mike Lin’s Startup CPL in Windows 7, and it seems to work fine! Thanks again, Mike!

  15. Faithful One

    oh!!!!!!!!!!!!! thank u if this nice little program wasnt there i should have thrown my computer!
    thank u so much (a friend told me about this site)i love ur site!

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