Turn off a Startup Program


Update: For Windows 7, read this article instead.

It seems like every program I install wants to start automatically with Windows. For example, Apple Quicktime puts an icon in the system tray. Adobe Acrobat starts automatically, just so it can more quickly open a PDF file. Each of these startup applications wastes memory and slows down how long it takes Windows Vista to start (though Windows Vista is smart about this, and lets you access the desktop before it starts all these applications).

To configure or disable startup applications in Windows Vista, follow these steps (after the jump):

1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.

2. Under Programs, click Change startup programs.


3. Windows Defender appears and displays the Software Explorer. You can resize this window if you need to. If you have an administrative account or an administrator username and password, click Show for all users button to display all startup programs. That shield icon on the button means you need an admin account.

4. Browse the list of startup programs (there are probably more than you expect). For anything you want to disable, click the program, and then click Disable or Remove.

Be sure NOT to disable these startup programs–you need them:

  • Microsoft Windows Explorer
  • Windows Defender
  • Microsoft IntelliPoint

32 Responses to “Turn off a Startup Program”

  1. MitchPizza says:

    Thanks, First one I could find about a vista computer!

  2. Josh says:

    nice man, ez solution to a nagging problem

  3. hiren says:

    thanks man….it helped…

  4. Euan says:

    Thanks loads , sorted my problem

  5. Babyfartmageesacks says:

    For some reason my Speech Recog software kept coming up and it really screwed up my startup. I just followed what you said and got rid of it. Cheers!

  6. KarlSlagle says:

    Bless you. Microsoft was running me in circles. Show all users was they key. Thanks

  7. Michael says:

    My Vista control panel (classic view) looks nothing like yours and has no “change startup programs” link to click. So the advice does not help me!

    • Anonymous says:

      Click the control panel home link at the far top left, it will change it back to vista control panel and take you out of the classic view

  8. zak says:

    thanks kid for the help!

  9. to Michael says:

    Michael, click to view your control panel normal. So if you click above the “Classic View” on the “Control Panel Home”, then you will be able to see “Change startujp programs” unerneath the “Programs” link/icon.
    Hope it helps,A

  10. nadia says:

    thanks it helped lots!!

  11. teresa says:

    thanks for everything, help a lot. Now my pc is working much better and faster than before.

  12. averill says:

    Your idea probably works fine but my windows defender won’t run. Is there another way to change the startup?

    • Anonymous says:

      hey Averill one reason windows defender wont run is cause if you have a anti virus/malware program running like norton, it disables windows defender, if this is the case you need to disable your anti virus/malware program in order to enable widows defender … hope this help..

  13. Zr7 says:

    Averill, i have the same problem, every time I try to open windows defender i have a error message saying that it times out. Did you find a way to fix this?
    If so, could you please let me know on leandro_lsd@hotmail.com

  14. James and Peg says:

    But what is the diff between “disable” and “remove?” If I remove a program from the start up, will I still be able to open it later? Thanks!

    • If you disable it, you can easily re-enable it if you change your mind later. If you remove it, it won’t be as easy to make it start automatically later. Either way, you’ll be able to run the program manually.

      • James and Peg says:

        Okay, thanks a ton!

        Okay, I disabled everything but AVG and Carbonite Info Center and, of course, the programs you told us not to!

        Thanks for the help…I’ve been searching for 9 months for a Vista help that was easy and trustful! ;)

  15. MGB says:

    When I try to change or uninstall a program, it tells me that “the system administrator has set policies that prevent this installation.” How do I get around that?

  16. pramod says:

    thank you very much

  17. Bob says:

    What can you do about programs that don’t give you the option to remove or disable? I have quite a few like that.

  18. Nick says:

    What does ‘not yet classified’ mean and how can I take those particular programs off my start up program?

  19. Glenn says:

    I have vista ultimate. My program icon in control panel says programs and features (not programs). There is also no link that says change startup programs. Weird. Oh well your post has been of mo use to me. I’ll keep looking. Thanks.

  20. Milo says:

    when i click stop a program from running at startup, it says “windows cannot frond C\:program . make sure you typed the name correctly then try again”
    what can i do about this?
    thanks in advance (:

  21. Carl wolf Peetz says:

    How do you call the “universal” password that repeatedly pops up on my pages, so i can turn it off?

  22. Carl wolf Peetz says:

    Is it Firefox that tries to control my protection from kids?

  23. Carl wolf Peetz says:

    STOP master password from controlling me!