Windows starts up not only the operating system, but also a number of apps, tools and services that are configured to start automatically with Windows. Depending on what you have installed, some of these apps may start up without your consent or knowledge.
This can be useful when you want to make sure that something important is always running. For example, you want to ensure that your backup or media server software is always accessible and running. As you add applications to your PC, some of them will be set up to start automatically with Windows. This means that Windows takes longer to load and that there are many programs running in the background.
The bad news is that you can’t. Windows allows you to choose which programs start with the operating system, so you are able to narrow down the list and include only the most important tools.
Check What’s Running
It’s important to first know what you are dealing with. Restart Windows and, after logging on, allow your computer to load for a few moments. You can then check what is running.
You can see the apps that are loaded in two places: the taskbar (in the lower-right corner by the clock) and the system tray. Click on the small arrow that points up. This will display all of the apps that are loaded that don’t fit into the right-hand space.Look at the system tray and see what apps Windows has started.
To see more details about what is running on your computer, click on a blank space in the taskbar. Then choose . You’ll find your current applications at the top of the processes tab. Below that, you will see background processes. These background processes are responsible for tasks such as managing file sync or looking out for accessories. They don’t have an interface.
Scrolling down, you will find Windows processes that manage the operation of the OS. These processes include the Desktop Window Manager, and others like Service Hosts (which load libraries Windows requires to run). You won’t have to mess with these processes very often ( except for the registry which you might occasionally dig into to fix specific problems).
The Task Manager shows the current CPU, RAM and disk usage of each application and process. You can use this to decide which programs you want Windows to launch automatically and which ones you would rather run manually. Even if you find a program useful, it may not be worth launching it automatically due to the resources it requires.Task manager shows what is currently running.
You don’t have to worry if the names of all background processes are unfamiliar. They won’t be associated with any software (such as Dropbox or Photoshop). You can find out what the process is by doing a quick search on the web. You need to be more cautious here because background processes are so closely integrated with Windows. Before you terminate a background process, make sure to know what it is doing and with what it is associated.
To see how much your Windows PC is being used, click the Performance button on the left. Click the App History button to view CPU usage, network usage and notifications from all your programs for the last month.
Now that you have a better understanding of the problem, you can start making some changes. You should start with the apps themselves. The approach will differ from one app to another.
You can start or stop some apps by right-clicking on their icon in the system tray.NordVPN can be controlled by its settings to launch at startup.
You’ll have to dig deeper into settings for other apps to find what you want. If you want to alter how Spotify launches when you start up, for example:
- Click on your profile icon in the Spotify app (top right) and then Settings.
- Scroll down and find Open Spotify after you log in to the computer. Then click on the drop down menu.
- Choose Yes if you want Spotify to start on Windows. No if you don’t. Minimized – Spotify will start on Windows but hidden.
Many programs have this option. NordVPN was another we saw. This is a great option for those who want a program to be always accessible (and not to tax your system’s resources) but don’t need to see it all the time.
Switching startup using Task Manager
You can also go back to the task manager if you cannot find the option you need in the program or you wish to change multiple programs at once.
- Open the Startup applications pane.
- Click on the program that you do not want Windows to launch and select Disable.
- Click on the app and select Enable.
While you’re on the Startup Apps page, it’s worth checking the Boot up impact column, which will tell you how much of your computer’s resource the app consumes. Shutting down apps with a high impact can help if your computer is slowing down or experiencing similar problems.The Task Manager can be used to stop Windows from starting apps automatically.
It doesn’t change the status of the application in any way, including its desktop shortcuts and Start menu. You can still launch it as usual. It’s also possible to completely uninstall a program if you don’t use it at all. This will free up space on your computer and reduce clutter.
You should be able to find out that background processes close when the parent application is disabled. You can search online for any processes that do not appear to be associated with a known program. If you want to know more about them, right-clicking on the Startup apps and choosing Property will give you information like where they are located.