How to use the Windows 10 Startup folder effectively?

November 26, 2018 |

greater than 9 minutes

Since you are here, we want to assume there are some programs you want Windows to launch as soon as your system boots up. In that case, you probably must have realized it is impractical to open those apps one-by-one every time your computer starts up. Anyway, by the time you are done going through this guide, you will have figured out a solution to the problem we just described.

What is the Windows Startup folder?

The Startup folder is a unique folder or directory that contains programs Windows is instructed to launch automatically after a computer boots up. Typically, the described folder is accessible through the Start Menu.

In theory, you could place some shortcuts for applications or their executable files into the Startup folder, and those programs will always run after your PC comes on without you having to do anything. The items that could be placed in the Windows Startup folder range from your preferred web browser, media player to frequently played games, and so on.

Interestingly, certain applications are known to place their shortcuts in the Windows Startup folder while they are being installed. This way, they get to ensure proper functionality and prevent complications from disturbing users. At least, this is what the developers of such apps often claim as the reason for such behavior.

Windows 8 presented many new problems and challenges that users were not accustomed to. For example, the removal of the Windows Startup folder from its usual location is easily one of the controversial moves Microsoft made with the launch of that operating system.

Nevertheless, the Startup Folder remained an essential component in the Windows OS (even with the loss of end-user access). Microsoft more or less has shunned it since in favor of new methods or applications that help users manage Startup applications (especially those approached with the Task Manager as an essential control program).

The Start Menu eventually made its return in Windows 10, but Microsoft failed to provide direct access to the Startup folder that once existed. Even with this drawback in place, the Windows 10 Startup folder still has its uses (most of which are incredibly effective).

Well, it is time we moved on to show you how to access the Startup folder in Windows 10, place your programs into its directory, and so on.

Note: The operations or steps outlined here also apply to any similar or slightly older version of Windows 10, like Windows 8.1.

Where is the Windows 10 Startup folder located?

First, we want you to understand that there are two Startup folders available for your use on your computer. The first folder is the one that operates at a system level, and this means it applies to all user accounts. The second folder is the one that is unique to your current user account (the profile you are logged into now).

How to find the Windows 10 Startup folder:

Follow these instructions:

  • First, you must launch a File Explorer program window. You can do this by pressing (and holding) the Windows button on your keyboard, then giving the letter E key a tap
  • Once the required program window is up, you have to navigate through a specific path to access the Startup folder.
  • If you intend to enter the system-level Startup folder (or the one for all users), this is the required path: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp
  • If you plan to access the user account specific Startup folder, this is the needed path: C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

Note: You might have to enable the Show Hidden files option to force Windows to display certain files or directories in the File Explorer program window. You might also have to deal with UAC (User Account Control) prompts and provide the confirmations necessary for some operations (especially when you are adding stuff into the Windows Startup folder).

If you consider the above method of accessing the Startup folder too much trouble (or if it fails to deliver the result you were expecting), you have to go with the alternative approach of doing the same thing. Here are the instructions you must follow:

  • First, you have to open the Run app. Do this by pressing (and holding) the Windows button on your keyboard, then continuing with a tap of the letter R key
  • Once the small Run program window is up, you have to input a specific code into the text field present, then hit the Enter key to run it and get to your destination.
  • If you intend to enter the system-level Startup folder (or the one accessible by all user accounts and profiles), this is the required code: shell:common startup
  • If you want to see the Startup folder for the user account currently logged into on your computer, this is the needed code: shell:startup

If you do everything correctly, a File Explorer program window will come up to display the requested Windows Startup folder.

How to add programs to the Startup folder in Windows 10?

Most programs from reputable firms or developers provide options users can take advantage of to make Windows run them immediately after their PC starts up. Nevertheless, before you move on to place an app into the Windows Startup folder, you will do well to check and see if there is any other way of making the application one of your computer’s Startup programs.

If another means of doing the same thing exists, you are probably better off going with it in this case. In general, we recommend users make use of the Startup folder approach only after other procedures fail to help them get the job done.

Follow these instructions to add a program to the Startup folder in Windows 10

  • First, you have to locate the executable file for the app you want Windows to run at startup. Do this: click on the Windows Start icon that is often present on your desktop screen. Input the name of the app you intend to add into the text field on the Start Menu screen to do a quick search for it

The app will pop up on the results list. You have to right-click on it, click on Send to, then select Desktop (create shortcut) from the sub-options you see.

Windows will display the shortcut on your desktop screen now. We guided you not to tamper with the executable file for a few reasons.

(A shortcut (created from the executable file) will work fine for what you are about to do. Furthermore, if you ever change your mind regards the app being a Startup program, you can quickly delete the shortcut you placed in the Windows Startup folder without you having to worry about complications or fallout that might result from such an operation.

Otherwise, if you use the executable file (instead of the shortcut) and place it in the Startup folder, you will have a lot to worry about when you decide to make changes).

  • It is time you returned to your desktop screen. Locate the shortcut you recently created, right-click on it, then select Cut from the options that show up.
  • Now, you must open the File Explorer window once more and enter the Windows Startup folder. There, you must right-click on an area free of objects and icons, then select Paste to place the shortcut you created earlier.
  • Check and ensure that the pasted shortcut now appears in the Windows Startup folder. You can now close the programs and apps you opened.

If you did everything correctly, the program (whose shortcut) you added into the Windows Startup folder would begin to run automatically every time your system boots up.

How to disable Startup programs in Windows 10 through the Startup folder and Task Manager app

Since we just showed you how to add applications or their shortcuts into the Windows Startup folder to get your system to launch them automatically at startup, it is only logical we showed you how to reverse the process.

You might be interested to know that there are different ways of disabling Startup programs. We believe the best or most effective method always involves operations carried out through the Task Manager app. There is something else: we know of some applications listed as Startup programs in Task Manager that do not appear in the Windows Startup folder.

In other words, you cannot disable certain programs through the Startup folder (if they are not accessible from the directory).

Now, to disable an app as a Startup program, all you have to do is delete its shortcut or executable file present in the Windows Startup folder. This method of getting rid of applications as Startup programs is best used if it was you who you placed the app into the Startup folder in the first place.

If you are struggling to disable a specific app as a Startup program, then the approach through the Task Manager app is your best bet now. Follow these instructions:

  • The first step of you having to launch the Task Manager app should be obvious enough. Do this: press (and hold) the CTRL and Shift button, then give the Esc key a tap.

You can also launch the Task Manager app quickly by right-clicking on the Windows Start icon that is always visible on your desktop screen, then selecting Task Manager from the list of programs or options that come up.

  • We believe the Task Manager app should be up on your screen by now. If its program window is the one with a limited view (a simple list of apps displayed), you have to click on the More details link to expand it to the full version. In any case, you have to click on the Startup tab to navigate to it.
  • Now, Windows should list all the programs your system runs at startup. To prevent a program from running automatically the next time Windows boots up, all you have to do is click on the program to highlight it, then click on the Disable button (usually close to the bottom of the window).

The columns in the Startup tab often provide some useful information. Besides the name column that helps in the identification of an app, the Status column tells you if the app is active as a Startup program or not. The Startup impact column more or less indicates how much of your system resources are often used up by the program.

Furthermore, if you right-click on anywhere in the header, Windows will display more information for the selected app. The Startup type and the Command line data are the most important items of the lot.

Startup type states the source of a program (from either the Registry or a folder). If Registry is displayed, then the application in view most likely set up itself to function as a Startup program during its installation process, or it belongs to the class of Startup programs as a result of an option or setting.

Otherwise (if Folder is displayed instead), then the app is a Startup program by virtue of its executable file or shortcut being in the Windows Startup folder, which is the directory this guide revolves around.

The information from the Command Line field might also come in handy in some scenarios. If you want to check out where exactly a program resides or view more information on it, all you have to do is right-click on it and select Open file location.

What kind of applications should I allow my system to run as startup programs?

By now, you must know you cannot let Windows run every application on your PC at startup. Your computer will boot and settle down far too slowly, or worse things might happen. It is necessary you understand that while some vital programs must run at startup, other apps (a vast majority of them) do not deserve to be startup programs.

Those unnecessary applications will simply waste your system resources, and your PC will become sluggish if you let them have their way.

Your antivirus (or any other security app) should be the first thing that comes to your mind when it comes to Startup programs. Of course, it is best your antivirus runs as soon as it can whenever Windows boots up. This way, it can perform its job effectively by staying ahead of threats.

Other categories of applications somewhat deserving of the Startup program privilege include backup apps, cloud storage clients, and any light program you frequently use.

We strongly advise you do not add games (since most of them have a high Startup impact that cannot be justified), heavy programs you frequently use (since you are better off opening them after Windows settles down, and this means the early launch setup is counterproductive), and so on.

The constituents of the Startup programs list (or its setup) on your computer somehow affect how your system runs; you have to manage things well to ensure your device boots up fast enough (and your PC operates smoothly).


Since you are interested in learning how to manage Startup programs through the Windows Startup folder or the Task Manager program, there is a good chance that the security of your PC is high up on your priority list. In that case, you may want to check out Auslogics Anti-Malware.

By downloading and installing the recommended app, you end up setting up an extra line of defense against viruses and malware. This way, you get to improve on your current protection setup, and at the same time, the changes (that occur) result in your computer becoming better protected than before.

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