Do you find yourself spending the first ten minutes opening all the programs you intend to use throughout the day when you first log into your computer? Wish there was a way to automate the process? Good news, there is a way! And I’m going to teach you how.
On average, I open anywhere between 8-10 programs every morning after arriving to work and quickly grew irritated by the procedure. It was then I decided to make use of what’s called the Startup Folder. This little humdinger houses most of the programs that automatically start when you log into your computer. Pretty cool huh? If you find yourself in the same predicament I described and are interested in learning about this process, stay with me and I’ll teach you how. If not, go friend someone on Facebook you’ve never met.
The Startup Folder
The Startup Folder in Windows (sorry, I don’t do Macs), as its name implies, is the area that houses most of the programs that start automatically after you’ve successfully logged into your computer. I say most because there is another area that houses some of the programs you won’t find in the Startup Folder, which I’ll explain in a little bit.
What can you put in the Startup Folder? Anything really, but more than likely you’ll want to include your e-mail program, your favorite Internet browser, an instant messaging client, a word processor, and maybe even a folder or two you find yourself accessing on a regular basis.
Locating the Startup Folder
Much like everything in Windows, you can access the Startup Folder in a number of ways. The easiest way is to click your Start Button > All Programs. Once you find the Startup Folder (folders in the All Programs menu are arranged alphabetically), right-click on it and select Open. This will open the Startup Folder where you can view all the programs that are set to start automatically.
As you can see, my Startup Folder is empty, however, I do have programs that start automatically. Sometimes when you install a new program, the install files will make a change to the registry that will make the program start automatically. If you see programs launching at start up despite the fact they aren’t in your Startup Folder, you’ll need to look in your system configuration. You can access the System Configuration dialog box by clicking the Start Button and typing “msconfig” in the Search Programs and Files search box (minus the quotations).
Note the five tabs across the top of the System Configuration dialog box. You’ll need to select the Startup tab, which will display all the programs configured to start after a successful login. Any programs that have check marks to the left will start upon login. Conversely, programs left unchecked will not start automatically. You might be asking yourself, “I have programs checked in my System Configuration, but I never see the program launch. How come?” The answer is most of these programs run in the background, transparent to the user. For example, notice I have Avast! Antivirus selected to start up automatically. While the program never actually launches, per say, it does begin at start up and runs in the background.
Adding Items to the Startup Folder
For the purpose of this tutorial, I’m going to add Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Mozilla Firefox (Web browser), AOL Instant Messenger, and a demo folder just to show the capabilities and versatility of the Startup Folder.
Follow the below steps to add programs and/or items to your Startup Folder:
1. Locate the program you wish to add, for example AOL Instant Messenger. This could be on your desktop or the Program Files folder in the “C:” drive.
2. Right click the desired program and click Send To > Desktop (create shortcut). This will place a shortcut on the desktop.
3. Navigate to the Startup Folder as instructed earlier. Click the Start Button > All Programs then scroll down to the Startup Folder. Right click on the Startup Folder and click Open.
4. Locate the shortcut you made of the desired program and click it once. Then drag the program into the Startup Folder as illustrated below. Alternatively, you can Cut and Paste the shortcut from the desktop into the Startup Folder.
5. Repeat the steps for all other programs you wish to include.
This is what my Startup Folder looked like when I was finished adding all my programs.
To test your Startup Folder, reboot your computer and watch it work its magic (if you did it right). Here’s a screenshot of my computer seconds after rebooting.
As you can see, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Mozilla Firefox, AOL Instant Messenger, and my demo folder all loaded properly after my reboot and I didn’t have to touch a single thing.
That’ll do it for this tutorial. Please feel free to leave questions and/or comments!