How to remove TSRs and startup programs

This document contains information about how to remove Terminate-and-Stay-Resident (TSR) programs also known as background programs temporarily from your computer memory, or how to prevent TSRs from automatically loading each time your computer boots.

How to temporarily remove a TSR from memory
Disabling TSRs from loading automatically

How to temporarily remove a TSR from memory

The information below contains steps on how to temporarily remove from memory TSRs and currently running programs. Keep in mind that after rebooting the computer many of these will reload. If you want to permanently keep these programs from loading, skip down to the next section.

Removing a TSR in Windows 2000, XP, and Vista
Removing a TSR in Windows 95, 98, and ME
Removing a TSR in Windows 3.x

Removing a TSR in Windows 2000, XP, and Vista

Press and hold ALT + CTRL + DEL and click the Task Manager button. Or if you're running Windows XP it should immediately open the Windows Task Manager window. Within Task Manager, click the Applications Tab, select the program that you want to end, and click the End Task button.

Windows XP Task Manager

As can be seen in the above picture, the Applications window only displays windows that are currently open and visible to the user. Other TSR's and Windows Processes are shown in the Processes tab as shown in the example below. Clicking on the Processes tab displays each of the processes running and the system resources they're using as shown below.

Windows Task Manager Processes

We recommend you only End Windows Processes in programs you know. If you are unsure about what the processes is, doing a search will return the results of each process.

Note: You cannot End Task any of the systems processes.

Removing a TSR in Windows 95, 98, and ME:

Press and hold ALT + CTRL + DEL. Once these three keys have all been properly pressed together, you should receive a Close Program Window.

Windows 9x Close program window

Highlight any of the listed items except Explorer and Systray and press the End Task Button. Repeat this process until you only have Explorer and Systray.

Extra Information

  • There is no way to highlight more than one of these icons.
  • Some of the listed programs may not be removed the first attempt, just continue to the next available, if any.
  • When End Tasking some of these, you may receive "This Program is Not responding", click End Task again.
  • Pressing ALT + CTRL + DEL twice in a row will reboot the computer.
  • Each of the items you are removing will come back the next time you reboot the computer unless they are removed.

Removing a TSR in Windows 3.x:

To remove any currently running programs in the background, minimize all open Windows including Program Manager.

Once each of the windows have been minimized, any currently running application running should be shown as a small icon. Open and close each of these icons except the Program Manager.

Disabling TSRs from loading automatically

Because many TSRs load up automatically when your computer starts, you may find it a burden to manually unload each of these programs each time you reboot the computer. Below are the steps on how to remove these programs from starting up automatically.

Microsoft Windows XP users

  1. Click Start, Programs, Startup
  2. Right-click and delete the file you want to not start automatically.

If you were unable to locate the program that is automatically loading, by following the instructions above, locate this program in the system registry or msconfig or other utility.

Microsoft Windows 2000 users

  1. Click Start, Programs, Startup
  2. Right-click and delete the file you want to not start automatically.

If you were unable to locate the program that is automatically loading, by following the instructions above, locate this program in the system registry or other utility.

Microsoft Windows 98 and Windows ME users

  1. Click Start, Programs, Startup
  2. Right-click and delete the file you want to not start automatically.

If you were unable to locate the program that is automatically loading, by following the instructions above, locate this program in the autoexec.bat, win.ini, system registry or Windows 98SE or Windows ME users can disable programs through the System Configuration or other utility.

Microsoft Windows 95 users

  1. Click Start, Settings, Taskbar & Start Menu Programs
  2. Click the Start Menu Programs tab
  3. Click the advanced button
  4. Open the Programs folder
  5. Open the Startup folder and remove the program you want to not start automatically.

If you were unable to locate the program automatically loading following the above instructions, locate this program in the autoexec.bat or win.ini for Windows 95 users, or in the system registry for Windows 95 or Windows NT users.

Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 users

  1. Click Start, Settings, Taskbar & Start Menu Programs
  2. Click the Start Menu Programs tab
  3. Click the advanced button
  4. Open the Programs folder
  5. Open the Startup folder and remove the program you want to not start automatically

If you were unable to locate the program that is automatically loading, by following the instructions above, locate this program in the system registry.

Microsoft Windows 3.x users

  1. In File Manager open the Main group
  2. Locate and open the Startup Folder
  3. Delete the program you want to not startup from the startup folder

If you were unable to locate the program that is automatically loading, by following the instructions above, locate this program in the autoexec.bat, win.ini.

Autoexec.bat

Note: This section is only applies to Windows 3.x, Windows 95 and 98 users. If you are uncertain what version of Windows you are running, click here.

After following the above instructions for the operating system you are running, if the program or TSR is still loading each time you boot your computer, it may be loading in your autoexec.bat. Information about the autoexec.bat and how to edit it can be found on our Autoexec.bat and Config.sys page.

Win.ini

Note: This section is only applies to Windows 3.x and Windows 95 and 98 users. If you are uncertain what version of Windows you are running, click here.

If the program continues to load and you have checked the startup folder and the autoexec.bat for this program or file, it is also possible for this program to load in the win.ini file. To check this file, follow the steps below.

  1. Windows 3.x users click the File menu and click Exit to get to an MS-DOS prompt.
  2. Windows 9x users click Start and Shutdown and restart the computer in MS-DOS prompt.
  3. Once at the MS-DOS prompt, type:
    cd\windows <press enter>
    edit win.ini <press enter>
  4. In the win.ini file you should have several lines of text, locate the line that reads:
    LOAD=

    or

    RUN=
  5. Verify that these lines are just LOAD= or RUN=     If text is following either of these statements this may be the program loading each time your computer boots.
  6. To temporarily disable these lines, you can place a semicolon in front of these lines, as shown in the example below.

    ;RUN=
  7. To save this file, choose File (ALT + F) and then Exit and save changes on exit.

System Registry

Note: This section is only for Windows 95 and 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista users. If you are uncertain what version of Windows you are running, click here.

Windows 98 users should disable startup programs through the System Configuration before doing the system Registry.

If the program continues to load after rebooting your computer and you have verified that the program does not exist in your startup, autoexec.bat or win.ini, the last and only other location that this program or TSR may be loading is the system registry. Before attempting to edit or change the system registry, it is important you read our registry page to understand the potential risks of editing the registry.

Once you have familiarized yourself with the system registry, open the registry key below to see if the program or TSR is loading in the system registry.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT...
\WINDOWS\CURRENTVERSION\RUN]

If you locate the program that is loading, delete this program from the above key (do not delete any other files from any other keys).

System Configuration

Note: This section is only for Windows 98 and Windows ME users. If you are uncertain what version of Windows you are running, click here.

To disable startup programs through the System Configuration, follow the instructions below.

  1. Click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and then System Information
  2. In the System Information Window, click the Tools drop down menu and select the System Configuration Utility
  3. Select the Startup tab and uncheck the programs you want to not load up automatically.

System Configuration Utility and msconfig and other utilities

There are many Windows and third-party utilities that can help manage what programs startup each time the computer boots. Our recommendation and favorite is Mike Lin's Startup Control Panel.

Note: The information below is only for Windows XP and Vista users. If you are uncertain what version of Windows you are running, click here.

To disable programs from automatically loading, follow the instructions below.

  1. Click Start, Run, type msconfig and press enter.
  2. This opens the "System Configuration Utility" window.
  3. Within this window, click the Startup Tab. Uncheck each of the startup tasks you no longer want to load. If you are uncertain what startup programs are causing your issues, try un-checking all of the items, then slowly start checking each of the items until you determine the source of your issue.

Additional information

  • See the background and TSR definition for further information and related links.