How to prevent Windows startup programs from loading

There are different ways a Windows program can automatically load when Windows first starts. Below is a full list of where to find startup programs and how they can be disabled.

Windows 8 Task Manager
Windows Startup
Windows Registry
Windows Services

Windows 8 Task Manager

Windows 8 users can disable startup programs from the Windows Task Manager.

  1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Del
  2. Click Task Manager
  3. In the Task Manager click the Startup tab.
  4. Right click on any startup program you want to disable and click Disable. Once disabled the status should remain as Disabled.


Most Windows users can use the msconfig utility to disable startup programs by following the steps below.

  1. Click Start, Run.
  2. Type msconfig
  3. Click the Startup tab
  4. Uncheck each of the programs you want to disable from starting.

Windows msconfig startup tab

Windows Startup

Another location startup programs are placed is the Windows Startup folder. To check to see if the program you want to be removed is loading in the Windows Startup, follow the steps below.

  1. Click Start, Programs, Startup, if under startup you see the program you want to remove and you have Windows 98 or Windows 98 SE you can right-click the program and click delete to delete this automatically from your startup menu.
  2. If you see the program you want to remove however have Windows 95 click Start, Settings, Taskbar & Startup Menu, click the Start Menu programs tab, click the Advanced button, click the Programs folder, click the Startup folder, highlight the program you do not want to startup automatically and press delete on your keyboard.
  3. If you were unable to locate the program within the Startup folder or if after rebooting the computer this does not remove the program from automatically starting up, continue to step 2.

Windows Registry

The Windows Registry is another common location to locate programs loading up automatically. If you are unfamiliar with the Registry and its potential dangers, see the Registry help page. Once you have familiarized yourself with the Registry, follow the steps below.

  1. Click Start, Run, and type Regedit and press enter.
  3. Click Software
  4. Click Microsoft
  5. Click Windows
  6. Click Current Version
  7. Click Run

Within the Run folder you should be able to locate the program. Once located, highlight the file and press delete. Once deleted, exit out of the Registry and reboot the computer.

Windows Services

Microsoft Windows can also automatically load a program through the Windows services. Follow the steps below to check the services currently setup on your computer. Note: User must have administrative rights to perform the steps below.

  1. Click Start, Settings, Control Panel.
  2. Open the Administrative Tools and click Services.
  3. Locate the service you want to disable and double-click that service.
  4. Change the Startup type from automatic to disabled.

Windows win.ini

Although not as common as the above two recommendations, with early versions of Windows the win.ini can also contain programs that load automatically. The win.ini, like most initialization files, can cause issues with the computer if not edited correctly. Follow the steps below for instructions on how to remove programs from the win.ini.

  1. Click Start, Run, and type win.ini
  2. Towards the top of the document you should see a run= line. Verify that nothing similar to the program that is loading at startup is after run= line. If this line appears to contain a command line pointing to the program that you are experiencing the issue with, delete everything after run=.

Tip: We recommend that you write down what ever is deleted in case it needs to be added back into the win.ini.

Additional information

  • See our startup definition for further information and related links on this term.