Tutorial Thursday

One of the biggest things I hate about installing new programs is the clutter that they add to your computer’s startup process. There seems to be an increasing number of programs, such as Adobe Acrobat, that love to preload their software so that it will seem lightning fast when you run it. The reality is that it will just increase the amount of time it takes for your computer to startup.

I typically hunt down a program to fix any problem that I have, but I didn’t want to find another program to fix something that other programs did…it just doesn’t seem like a good thing. So I make the changes myself using the built-in Windows tools that are available.

The first thing that I typically do when I want to edit my startup programs is run MSConfig to see a list of everything that is currently running when my computer boots. You can do that by going to the Run command, typing in msconfig and then pressing Enter. You will see a window with several tabs but the one we are looking for is cleverly called “Startup”:

I love using MSConfig to see my startup items because it will show you the ones located in multiple locations. If you see a program on there that you don’t want just uncheck the box. This will disable the item from starting the next time you reboot your computer but it does not delete it. I always disable the items before I go and delete them just to make sure I don’t screw something up.

If you reboot your computer and it is running okay then you may want to (which I do) permanently delete the items. In the MSConfig it shows you the location that you need to find either in the Registry or your Windows Startup folder. All of the ones I have pictured are located in the registry and you’ll notice the two different values that I have circled:

  • HKLM – Stands for HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE which are items that run for ALL users.
  • HKCU – Stands for HKEY_CURRENT_USER which are the items that will only run for you.

NOTE: You should only edit your registry if you are familiar with doing so. If you make a mistake it could destroy your Windows installation.

Once you have figured out the items that you want to delete you can start the Registry Editor by going to the Run command and typing in regedit. After the Registry Editor has opened you can browse for the key that you need to delete. The registry key will likely be in one of the following locations:

  • HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

If the item is not in the registry then it is probably located in a Startup folder which can be found in a profile:

  • %userprofile%\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
  • %allusersprofile%\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

That is really all there is to it. I normally only go through and edit my startup items after I have installed a fresh copy of Windows along with all of the software that I need. I will often find that Adobe, along with many others, love to throw some things in that I don’t necessarily care about. So I delete them. :)