Written by Domenic Molinaro
Published on February 23, 2023

How to stop Windows startup programs from running at startup

To stop Windows startup programs launching at startup, open Settings > Apps > Startup. Here, you can see all the apps on your computer, and you can toggle off any apps that you don’t want launching when you turn on your computer.

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    Having Windows startup programs launch automatically is convenient if you use them daily. If not, they can drain system resources. The more startup items you have, the longer it takes for Windows to boot up, the slower your machine runs, and the more likely it is that your computer overheats or experiences other performance issues.

    When too many programs open by default at startup, it can swamp your computer’s processing power. Disabling startup programs you don’t need speeds up boot times on PCs and laptops, and it can even help to fix the Windows “black screen of death” and other serious system errors.

    It’s certainly not a boot up myth that managing startup is crucial on older and slower computers. And if you have a real dinosaur, you can further minimize the load on your system by using the about blank page on your web browser.

    Keep reading to learn how to change startup programs in Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP through the Task Manager and Windows Settings.

    Disabling startup programs in Windows 11

    Windows 11 is the latest version of the Windows operating system, and although it has a slightly different interface than previous versions of Windows, startup programs can be configured both via Windows Settings and the Task Manager.

    Windows Settings

    Here’s how to disable startup programs in Windows 11 using Windows Settings:

    1. Press the Windows + I shortcut to open Settings, select Apps from the left menu, and then click Startup.

      Navigating to Startup settings within Windows 11 Settings.
    2. Toggle off any apps or programs that you don’t want turning on automatically on startup.

      Disabling startup programs within Windows 11 Settings.

    Task Manager

    Here’s how to disable Windows 11 startup programs through Task Manager:

    1. Open Task Manager with the Ctrl + Shift + Escape shortcut and click the Startup tab.

      Disabling startup programs within Task Manager in Windows 11.
    2. Right-click the app you want to turn off and select Disable.

    Having turned off unwanted Windows 11 startup programs, you can restart your computer to see if it worked. But remember that some startup programs are necessary, so make sure you don’t disable critical apps such as antivirus software for Windows 11.

    If you’re optimizing your startup programs to free up resources for gaming, check out our guide for even more ways to boost your gaming rig.

    Disabling startup programs in Windows 10

    You can configure your Windows 10 startup apps either in Windows Settings or through the Task Manager.

    Windows Settings

    Here’s how to disable startup programs in Windows 10 through Windows settings:

    1. Open the Start menu and click Settings.

      Navigating to Settings via the Windows 10 Start menu
    2. Click Apps.

      Navigating to Apps in Windows 10 Settings
    3. Click Startup on the left menu.

      Selecting "Startup" within Windows 10 Apps Settings.
    4. Toggle off the programs you don’t want running at startup.

      A list of Windows 10 apps with toggles for enabling or disabling

    Task Manager

    Here’s how to disable Windows 10 startup programs via Task Manager:

    1. Launch Task Manager with the Ctrl + Shift + Escape shortcut and click the Startup tab.

      Expanded Windows 10 Task Manager with "Startup tab" highlighted
    2. Right-click the program you want to disable from running at startup and select Disable.

      Disabling automatic startup launch for an app within Task Manager in Windows 10.

    One advantage of using Task Manager is that you can sort Windows 10 startup programs by impact and quickly identify which programs consume the most resources. As well as changing startup programs you never or rarely use, making sure you have the latest version of Windows 10 will help to ensure smooth, speedy startups. To update to Windows 11, you may need to find your Windows 10 product key.

    If your computer is still working hard or running slow even after optimizing your Windows 10 startup apps, you’ll need to take additional steps to speed up your PC, like fixing high CPU usage or fixing 100 percent disk usage.

    Disabling startup programs in Windows 8 and 8.1

    Here’s how to change startup programs in Windows 8 or 8.1.

    1. Use the Windows + Shift + Esc shortcut to launch Task Manager.

    2. Click the Startup tab.

    3. Select the program you want to disable at startup and click Disable in the lower right-hand corner.

    Just like in other versions of Windows, you can use Task Manager to sort your Windows 8 startup programs by name, publisher, status, or startup impact.

    Disabling startup programs in Windows 7, Vista, and XP

    Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows 7 startup programs are all accessed and managed the same way.

    Here’s how to change startup programs in Windows 7, Vista, or XP:

    1. Open the Start Menu.

    2. Click Run, type MSConfig, and press Enter.

    3. Click the Startup tab and uncheck the programs you want disabled at startup.

    4. Click OK.

    After disabling unnecessary startup programs, your Vista, XP, or Windows 7 startup should be noticeably faster. If problems persist, you may have a larger issue like a malware infection, because Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 7 with security updates. In that case, take steps to remove viruses or malware from your computer.

    If you’re using outdated Windows 7 software, your computer is at a greater risk of being hacked. You should update to a newer version of Windows as soon as possible, to strengthen your security and improve performance.

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    Domenic Molinaro