You may have noticed that a lot of programs start up as soon as your Windows or macOS computer boots up. The list can include a music streaming service, an image editor, or your game library.
It makes sense to have some applications loaded and ready to go, especially if you use them all the time or need them running in the background all the time. After all, for example, you don’t want to forget to start your cloud sync tool and later find out that the changes you made to your files weren’t synced.
However, as more and more apps launch on reboot—often without asking you specifically—they can drain your system’s resources and slow the boot process to a crawl. You might also find that you generally don’t have the processing power or free disk space for the programs you actually need because so many others are lurking unnecessarily in the background.
The solution is to take back control over the programs that start with your computer, which is easy to do. And for the apps that you don’t use at all anymore, the best thing to do is to uninstall them completely and free up some space.
Individual app settings
You can prevent applications from starting with your operating system via the app’s settings or via the configuration options in Windows and macOS. The former is a more precise way to tackle this issue, but finding the right setting for each program isn’t always easy and can take some time.
[Related: Run Windows on your Mac and get the best of both worlds]
We can’t cover every single piece of software out there, but the path to finding the right screen can be similar to that found in Spotify’s desktop client. From there, click on your account name (top right) and then go to settings. Find the Open Spotify automatically after login computer drop-down menu and set it to on no.
Dropbox and other cloud syncing services are good examples of programs that you’ll probably want to keep running all the time to make sure you’re saving any changes to your files. However, if you only use Dropbox occasionally, you can prevent it from starting automatically. Click the Dropbox icon in the system tray or menu bar, and then click your account profile picture in the window that appears. There, go to settingsopen this General tab and disable the Launch Dropbox at system startup Crate.
Settings on Windows
Stopping programs on Windows hasn’t always been particularly easy, but there’s a dedicated screen for it in the latest iterations of the operating system. Open settings from the Start menu and then select applications and tarnishing. You will see a list of programs that have been prompted to start each time you boot your system, along with the developer’s name. If you have doubts about any of the entries, this last column will help you better identify where a particular app came from.
At the top of the list is a drop-down menu that you can use to change the order: you can sort the programs alphabetically by name or by their status (enabled or disabled). You can also sort the list by the impact each app has on your computer’s startup speed. Unfortunately, Windows doesn’t have this information about every app.
To prevent a program from starting with Windows, toggle its toggle switch to off On to Out of. This will not uninstall the application or remove it from the list, so you can always change your mind in the future and turn the switch back on if needed.
Settings on macOS
If you’re on an Apple computer and an app is in the Dock, you can prevent it from launching with macOS right from there. Just right-click the icon and select optionsand disable Open at login. If the option is not checked, it currently does not boot with macOS.
[Related: 5 easy fixes for common computer problems]
To see each program that starts as soon as your system boots, go to system settings of the Apple menu and then select Users & Groups. Change there to the Login Items screen and you will see a list of everything that starts automatically with your operating system. To remove a program, select it from the list and click the minus button below.
You can also use the plus button to add items to this list if you like. You also have the option to start an application with your Mac but keep it minimized in the Dock. To do this, check the Hide next to an app’s name in the list.