How to Remove Startup Programs in Windows


Programs ranging from auto-updaters to cloud syncing utilities run automatically every time you turn on your PC, and many of them remain running in the background all day. Although designed for convenience, auto-starting programs also make your computer take longer to boot and can fill your taskbar tray with icons. Rather than waste time quitting unwanted programs every time you reboot, stop applications from loading using the Task Manager in Windows 8 or Msconfig in Windows 7.

Msconfig won't work to manage startup programs on Windows 8.
(Image courtesy of Microsoft)
Step 1

Press "Ctrl-Shift-Esc" or right-click the taskbar and choose "Task Manager."

Open the Task Manager.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 2

Click "More Details" to open the full Task Manager, if you haven't used it before.

Switch to the full Task Manager.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 3

Switch to the "Startup" tab to see a list of programs that start with Windows. Click any of the column headings to sort the list, such as to see which programs slow down boot time the most.

View and sort startup programs.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 4

Select a program and press "Disable" to stop it from running on startup. You can also right-click a program to search for information about it online or to see the program's location on your hard drive.

Disable a program.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 1

Press "Windows-R" and run "msconfig" to open the System Configuration utility. Depending on your security settings, you might need to press "Continue" on a User Account Control warning message.

Run Msconfig.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 2

Open the "Startup" tab and uncheck any programs that you want to prevent running automatically. The Command column shows the location of a program to help you identify its purpose. You might need to expand the column to read its contents: double-click the vertical line between "Command" and "Location."

Select programs to disable.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 3

Click "OK" and choose whether you want to reboot immediately. If you choose "Exit Without Restart," your choices take effect the next time you reboot or turn your computer off and on.

Reboot or wait until later.
Image courtesy of Microsoft

Tips & Warnings

  • The startup program lists do not include system services, which you can find on the Services tab in Msconfig on both Windows 7 and 8. Some applications run automatically using services instead of startup items, but the Services list also includes vital Windows components, so disable a service only if you know what you're doing.
  • Select "Normal Startup" on the General tab of Msconfig to re-enable all disabled startup programs and services.
  • Most programs still work when opened manually after you prevent them from running at startup, though they might take longer to load. If a program stops working, however, undo the change.


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