How to prevent Windows startup programs from loading

There are different ways a 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 the Ctrl + Alt + Del keys at the same time.
  2. Click on 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.


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

  1. Click Start, then Run.
  2. Type msconfig into the text box.
  3. Click on the Startup tab.
  4. Uncheck each of the programs you don't want to load upon startup.

Windows msconfig startup tab

Windows Startup

Another location startup programs are placed is the Windows Startup folder. To view this folder, follow the steps below.

  1. Click Start, Programs, Startup, then locate the program you want to remove. You can then right-click the program and select delete from the drop-down menu that appears. This action will prevent the program from loading automatically upon startup.
  2. If you see the program you want to remove, but have Windows 95, click Start, Settings, and then Taskbar & Startup Menu. Click the Start Menu programs tab, click the Advanced button, click the Programs folder, and then click the Startup folder. Highlight the program you do not want to startup automatically and press delete on your keyboard.

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, type Regedit, and then press Enter.
  3. Click Software
  4. Click Microsoft
  5. Click Windows
  6. Click Current Version
  7. Click Run
  8. Within the Run folder, locate the program(s) you don't want to boot upon startup.
  9. Once located, highlight the file and press Delete.
  10. Exit out of the Registry and reboot the computer.

Windows Services

Microsoft Windows can also automatically load a program through 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, and then Control Panel.
  2. Open the Administrative Tools and click Services.
  3. Locate the service you want to disable and double-click it.
  4. Change the Startup type from automatic to disabled.

Windows win.ini

Although not as common as the previous 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 file.

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

  1. Click Start, Run, and then type win.ini into the text box.
  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=.

Additional information

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