How to Disable Startup Programs on Windows 11

How to Disable Startup Programs on Windows 11

Apps that auto-load during startup can extend your PC’s boot time. Many of these apps and services are loading even when you’re not planning to use them.

To make things worse, they might remain idle in the background during your entire session. So, while individually, they won’t consume significant computer resources, their combined toll can add up – especially for older or underpowered PCs.

However, there are many ways you can stop them from auto-loading. Let’s see how.

Dive into Settings

The first place to look for auto-starting software is Windows’ main apps list.

  1. To find the list of all installed apps in Windows, launch Settings in the Start menu.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Start Menu Settings
    Start menu Settings entry.

  2. You can also right-click on the Start button and choose Settings.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Start Right Click Settings
    Right-click Settings option.

  3. Choose Apps from the list on the left of the Settings window.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Settings Apps List
    Windows 11 Settings Apps List

  4. Windows 11 groups apps in many ways, according to type, purpose, etc. The group you want is Startup, at the end of the list.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Settings Apps List Startup
    Windows 11 Apps list Startup apps option.

  5. You will see all apps registered to load when you log into your desktop. Flick the toggle off to remove an app from the Windows startup process.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Settings Startup Apps
    Windows 11 Settings Startup apps list

  6. Windows also estimates each app’s impact on startup time and displays it on the right of each entry. Disabling Low impact apps won’t affect startup time as much as High impact apps.

Use the Task Manager

As its name states, the Task Manager is the tool to manage active tasks. However, Microsoft also gives it the ability to manage startup apps. Thus, you can use it to disable some apps from auto-loading whenever you log in to your desktop.

  1. There are many ways to launch Task Manager. Up to Windows 10, you could right-click on the taskbar and select it from the menu that showed up. That option’s gone in Windows 11, but you can still find the Task Manager in the Quick Link menu. To access that menu, right-click on the Start button, or press Windows Key + X. You can also search for Task Manager in the Start menu, then select that entry to run it. Another way to launch it is through the Run dialog. For that, press Windows Key + R and type taskmgr.exe in the Run window. However, the quickest way is to use the CTRL + Shift + Esc key combination.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Task Manager Simple
    Default simple version of Windows 11’s Task Manager.

  2. The Task Manager presents a basic view of active tasks by default. To view the full Task Manager, click on More details on the bottom-left. Then, select the Startup tab.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Task Manager Full
    Windows 11 Task Manager – detailed display.

  3. To stop a specific process from auto-launching during startup, right-click on it and choose Disable from the menu.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Task Manager Disable Startup App
    Disabling an auto-starting app in Windows 11’s Task Manager.

Check Background Services

Services are apps that keep running in the background. They’re usually processes with which you don’t interact most of the time. Some examples might be:

  • A web server you use to test the web pages you design.
  • A firewall controls who and what can communicate with and from your PC.
  • An antivirus engine that stays dormant but springs into action whenever you download a file to scan it.

You probably wouldn’t want to disable your firewall and antivirus. However, there’s no point in having certain processes running in the background. Disabling these background services can free up precious resources and shorten your PC’s boot time.

  1. The aptly named “services” Windows app allows you to control background services. You can find it by searching “services” in the Start menu search. Alternatively, press Windows key + R to open the Windows Run dialog. Then, type services.msc and press Enter to launch the services app.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Start Services
    Locating the Services app on Windows 11.

  2. Did you locate an active service you are neither using nor on which the apps you are using rely? You can stop it by right-clicking on it and choosing Stop. However, this is a temporary solution, deactivating it for the current session.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Services Disable
    Stopping services with the Services app on Windows 11.

  3. If you want to disable a process permanently, right-click on it and choose Properties or double-click. Then, while on the General tab, use the “Startup type” dropdown menu to change its behavior. For example, to keep a service but delay its startup, select Automatic (Delayed Start). Setting it to Manual means the service will only launch when needed. Finally, setting it to Disabled means the affected service will never launch. To enable it, you will have to reactivate it in the future from this menu.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Services Startup Type
    Disabling a service through Windows 11’s Services app.

Note: You shouldn’t disable services randomly or by guessing. Make sure you don’t need the services you disable. Otherwise, useful features – like support for printing – may break.

Restrict App Permissions

Windows allows you to control how each application “behaves” with individual permissions. Borrowing a page from smartphones, you can choose if apps are allowed to run in the background. This, in turn, means they’ll also be allowed to load automatically. You can change permissions for apps that support this feature:

  1. Use the Start menu’s search function to search “apps and features“. Then, launch Apps & features.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Apps and Features
    Searching for Apps and Features on Windows 11.

  2. Locate the app you want to restrict from auto-launching or staying active. Then, click on the button with the three dots on the right of its entry, and choose Advanced options.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Apps and Features Advanced Options
    Windows 11’s Apps and Features advanced options.

  3. You want to access the dropdown menu under “Background apps permissions”. Never means the app will never run in the background and, therefore, will not launch during startup. The other two options allow it to run automatically. Always sets no restrictions. Power optimized (recommended) defines that an app can autoload and keep running but will revert to an idle state when not actively used.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Apps and Features Background Permissions
    Setting permissions for apps to run in the background.

Use Autoruns

Autoruns is an advanced tool that allows you to control all apps or processes that run automatically on your PC. Whether it’s an entry in the Registry, the startup folder, the Task Scheduler, or a “normal” app or service. In all cases, if a piece of software runs when Windows loads, you’ll find it in Autoruns.

  1. To control your auto-loading apps with Autoruns, first, download it from its official site.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Autoruns Download
    Downloading Autoruns from its official site.

  2. Run the app by searching for it in the Start menu.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Find Autoruns in Start
    Searching for Autoruns in Windows 11’s Start menu.

  3. As you see, Autoruns presents more auto-loading software than native Windows 11 applications. It can get somewhat cluttered – especially on the Everything tab. Thus, you might want to check the individual tabs where all auto-loading apps are grouped in categories.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Autoruns Everything Tab
    Autoruns’ Everything tab.

  4. You can remove the checkmark on the left of any entry to disable it from auto-launching on startup.

    Disable Startup Apps in Windows 11 Autoruns Disable Entry
    Controlling which apps can start automatically by adding and removing checkmarks in Autoruns.

As with the Services app, you should only disable entries you’re sure you don’t need.

Quicker Boots

You can dramatically speed up your PC’s boot time by forbidding unnecessary apps from starting when Windows loads. Additionally, you will save up more CPU cycles, RAM, and storage bandwidth for your apps. The result will be a computer that boots faster and feels more efficient.

Erik is a full-time product quality engineer at the IBM who has a passion for teaching others (and always learning) about technology. He has a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Eindhoven University of Technology. Erik is the chief editor for Windows, Linux and coding tutorials.

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