How To: Disable Startup Programs in Windows 8

windows 8 - new begginning 3Whenever I am called out to a client’s machine which is running very slowly, one of the first things I check out is the list of programs auto-starting with Windows. It seems to be a pretty common practice these days for software developers to include auto-starting in their products. In many cases this is totally unnecessary, the software can be started manually at any time when required and all it does is tend to bog down the machine. There are notable exceptions of course, such as security software for example, but in many cases, no harm can come from disabling this behavior.

The best method to prevent software from auto-starting with Windows is via the program’s own settings/preferences, generally accessible by right clicking on the associated system tray icon. However, not all software includes an option to disable the auto-start feature and this is where a ‘startup’ manager comes in handy.

In previous versions of Windows, managing startup items has always been accessible via the System Configuration utility (msconfig).  In Windows 8, Microsoft chose to move this feature over to Task Manager, which does make sense… well, it does to to me anyway. I’m going to show you how to disable startup items in Windows 8 –  yes, there are several good third party products that will get the job done but here, we’re focusing on utilizing the native tools already built into Windows.

Disable Startup Items via Task Manager

There are several methods for accessing Task Manager, the easiest way is probably to right click on the Taskbar and select Task Manager from the menu (a right click in the bottom left hand corner of the screen will also bring up a menu with Task Manager included – or press Ctrl + Alt + Delete).

If a simplified version of Task Manager displays, simply click on More Details:

task manager simplified

Now, click on the Start-up tab across the top of the Task Manager window and a list of current startup items will be displayed. Highlight any item you want to prevent from auto-starting and then click on the Disable button:

task manager startup

Navigate to the Startup Folder in Windows 8

To maybe help less experienced users understand a little more about their operating system, here is how to access the actual Startup folder.

**Note: You may need to enable the option to display hidden files: go to Control Panel>Folder Options and click on the View tab. Now, if not enabled already, place a checkmark next to the option to “Show hidden files, folders and drives” – click Apply then OK:

show hidden files

The per user Startup folder is stored in “AppData” and can be accessed by navigating to Computer>C Drive>Users>Username>AppData>Roaming>Microsoft>Windows>Start Menu>Programs>Startup [phew!].

startup folder


Okay, now we’ve taken you via the scenic route, here’s a quicker way to get to the same location:

  • Open the Run utility by either right clicking in the bottom left hand corner of the screen and selecting “Run” from the menu or, simply press the Win + R keys.
  • Now type shell:startup into the Run dialogue box and press ‘Enter’ (or click OK).

The all users Startup folder is located at Computer>C Drive>Program Data>Microsoft>Windows>Start Menu>Programs>Startup (not quite so long winded, but almost)

  • To quickly navigate to this folder; input the following command into the Run dialogue box: shell:common startup

The shortest route from A to B – pretty cool, yes?

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About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

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