Have a Question?
< All Topics

Prevent programs from starting automatically in Windows

Before you begin

Often, a program starts automatically because of a shortcut in the Startup folder in the Start menu. The program may also run automatically from a registry entry. To remove programs from automatic startup, follow these instructions in order. After completing each set of steps, reboot your device to see if the problem is fixed. If necessary, you can then continue to the next set of instructions.

Remove a shortcut


The shortcut will remain in the Recycle Bin until you empty it.

To remove a shortcut from the Startup folder:

  1. Press Win-r. In the “Open:” field, type:C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUpPress Enter.
  2. Right-click the program you don’t want to open at startup and click Delete.

If a shortcut you want in the Startup folder is pointing to the wrong program, correct it as follows:

  1. In the Startup folder, right-click the appropriate icon and select Properties.
  2. Click the Shortcut tab. In the “Target:” field, verify that the path statement points to the filename of the correct program. If it does not, enter the accurate path to the program.

Disable items not in the Startup folder

Some startup items have no shortcut in the Startup folder. You can disable these with either the Startup apps/tasks tool in Settings or the Task Manager. Otherwise, they are only accessible through the registry. If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with registry editing, use these utilities.

Startup tasks

  1. In the Windows search box, type startup apps (Windows 11) or startup tasks (Windows 10), and press Enter.
  2. The window that opens will contain a list of applications that may start when your device boots. To disable an app, toggle the switch to Off.

Task Manager

  1. Navigate to the Task Manager.
  2. If necessary, click More details to see all of the tabs; select the Startup tab.
  3. Select the item not to launch at startup, and click Disable.

Remove a registry entry


This contains instructions for editing the registry. If you make any error while editing the registry, you can potentially cause Windows to fail or be unable to boot, requiring you to reinstall Windows. Edit the registry at your own risk. Always back up the registry before making any changes. If you do not feel comfortable editing the registry, do not attempt these instructions. Instead, seek the help of a computing support provider.

To remove a startup entry from the registry:

  1. Press Win-r. In the “Open:” field, type regedit and press Enter.
  2. To save a backup copy of the registry, from the File menu, select Export….
    1. Make sure to note the file’s destination; by default, it will be saved on the desktop.
    2. Give the file an obvious name, such as registry or regback, so that you’ll remember this file is your registry backup.
    3. In the “Export Range” field, make sure All is selected, and then click Save. This will make a backup of a working registry.
  3. To expand HKEY LOCAL MACHINE, click the + (plus sign) to the left.
  4. Expand the SOFTWARE tree. Then expand Microsoft, then Windows, and then CurrentVersion.
  5. Highlight the Run folder. On the right side of the screen, you will see programs that are set to run on startup that might not be included in the Startup folder. Some of these may be important programs, such as antivirus programs or firewalls. There also may be undesirable or unnecessary programs, such as spyware and advertisement software. You’ll need to ascertain what is needed and what is not.
  6. Highlight any program(s) you want to prevent from starting automatically, and then press the Del key. Remember that deleting programs here does not remove them from your computer; it only stops them from running automatically.
  7. Changes to the registry are implemented immediately, so you do not need to save your changes. At this point, you may simply close the Registry Editor.
Table of Contents