On last week’s OS Tips, I showed you how to configure applications on your Mac to automatically start if you so choose. Not wanting to leave our HackCollege Windows users out in the cold, this week I’m going to cover how to do the same in Microsoft’s OS. Unfortunately, the process is not as straightforward nor intuitive as it is on a Mac, but it’s not rocket science either. Knowing how to do this is great because not only does it save you time on launching the applications/utilities you always use, but you can also disable all the crap you hate seeing on startup but never could figure out how to remove. While you have six (6! that’s ridiculous!) different methods to configure startup items in Windows, I’m only going to cover the four easiest ones.

Individual Program’s Preferences

If possible, this is definitely the easiest method. Some programs have an option within their preferences menu to enable/disable open at startup. If the program you want to launch at startup has this enabled, you’re golden! If not, we’re going to have to dig a little deeper into Windows. As an example, here’s what it looks like in Dropbox.

Startup Folder

1. Open the Start Menu, select “All Programs”, and scroll down until you get to the “Startup” folder.

2. Right click on this folder, right click, and select open or explore from the context menu.

3. Right click on the .exe file of the application you want to launch on startup and choose “Create shortcut”.

4. Move this shortcut link to your “Startup” folder, and now the application will launch when you log in to your account. Note that this method only works for your current account.

5. If you want to remove items from automatically starting, simply delete the shortcuts from your “Startup” folder.

While the last two methods are better for adding items to startup/the next two are much better for annoying removing startup items.


For those who don’t know what CCleaner is, it’s a great utility for cleaning up temporary files and removing unnecessary registry entries. However, it can also enable and disable startup items.

1. Click on “Tools” on the left hand side.

2. Click on Startup, then enable, disable, or delete whichever startup items you’d like.

System Configuration

1. Open the Start Menu, and in the search bar, type “msconfig” then hit enter.

2. After selecting the startup tab, you should see a list of all the items on your computer that have the option of loading upon startup.

3. To enable a startup item, click the checkbox next to the item’s name. To disable an item, click the checkbox again.

Have you figured out better methods to deal with all this startup chaos? Let us know in the comments!

[Top image courtesy of BiiLbo. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.]