How to make a program auto launch at start up?

Posted on 2010-01-12
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
I have a windows program that I would like to add to the list of programs that launch automatically at startup.

How does one do that?

Question by:Delivery
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Alan Henderson
ID: 26299956
You just have to drag a shortcut to the program into your Statup folder. Which version of Windows?
LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Alan Henderson
ID: 26299965
LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Alan Henderson
ID: 26299995
In Windows 7, and I think in Vista. If you:

1. Click the Start button
2. Click All Programs.
3. Right click Startup.
4. Select "Open".

You will get a Startup folder Explorer Window.

Just drag a shortcut to the program into that window. You can create a shortcut by locating the program's EXE file and Ctrl+Shift dragging it to the window.

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Expert Comment

ID: 26300047
What is the program?  You could use the local security policy and add the program under the computer configuration\windows settings\ startup/shutdown scripts.

The startup folder in the start menu runs a program upon login not when the computer is started.

In addition to the local policy, you could use the registry/msconfig to set the program to start on bootup/start of computer.
If the program is an interactive/GUI type, you would likely be unable to run it at bootup.

Author Comment

ID: 26300099

I am Win 7.  I did what you suggest and will see what hapens when i restart.  2 related questions

1) I have many programs launch at startup.  So, I expected to see them all listed in the directory you describe.  But, it was empty.  Where are they?  Shouldn't I be listing my new program in the same pkace as them?  I looked under the StartUp tab under MSConfig and expected to be able to check a box-but my target program was not there.

2) While trying this, I needed to make a shortcut.  In the old days you could go too the program list, right click a program and choose Create a Shortcut.  But, this option is not listed on Win 7.  I had to follow the path all the way to the executable, then create a shortcut.  Tedious and error-prone.  Any other ways?
LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Alan Henderson
ID: 26300797
The Startup folder is only for programs you add.
Others are controlled from then registry. You can see them under the Services and Startup tabs in the System Configuration Utility.

See that by running msconfig -
1. click Start button
2. type 'msconfig'
3. Press Enter.

arnold has explained why that is.
LVL 24

Accepted Solution

Alan Henderson earned 1000 total points
ID: 26300812
" I had to follow the path all the way to the executable, then create a shortcut.  Tedious and error-prone.  Any other ways?"
If you:

1.  right click on a program in the Start Menu,
2.  then choose "Open file location",

You'll open a Windows Explorer Window containing the relevant EXE file.
LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Alan Henderson
ID: 26300873
To accomplish what arnold has suggested. i.e. to add a program for all users in the hidden Startup system folder:

 1. Click on the Start button.
 2. Right click on All Programs,
3. Right click on All Programs,
4. and click on Open All Users.
5. Drag the required shortcut to the opened Startup folder.
LVL 22

Assisted Solution

senad earned 1000 total points
ID: 26300939
In W7 best practice is to use Task Scheduler to launch your programs at start-up.

Expert Comment

ID: 26303573
All the other stuff can be removed permanently from the registry by going:

Click on Start
Type regedit in the search box
Click on the regedit icon which the search should find pretty quickly
Browse to:




You can right click on the entries in the right pane and delete them. Just be sure you know what each one does (google them). You will recognise the important things there such as your antivirus program which you obviously DO want to run.

The LOCAL_MACHINE entries run for ALL users on the system, while the CURRENT_USER entries run for the currently logged on user, most likely you.

While msconfig is the safe way of "disabling" these entries, checking out this area of the registry every now and then can be informative and I like to clean it out every so often. Pretty much every program you ever install these days will put a startup entry in there.

A more sinister location is:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\Notify]

Which is where malware will often locate a .dll entry to start itself at logon of any user.

Aside from all that, some programs also install services.

Click on Start
Administrative Tools

Will show you all the services running on your system. Some of these can be disabled also to help the system along, but that is a whole other subject.

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