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Stopping Applications at Startup

You can reduce the time it takes Windows to start up by preventing applications from loading at startup—one of my biggest pet peeves. Many of the applications that are set to load at startup appear in the system tray, the lower-right corner of Windows. However, some applications run in the background without you knowing.

You might want to leave applications you use all the time on your startup list, but you can typically open the software manually when you need it. Software you have auto-loading may be for your PDA or cell phone, printer, multimedia components, faxing software, Office suite, instant messaging, and other miscellaneous applications. Even spyware, viruses, and other pests commonly add themselves to your startup list.

Windows Vista comes with a new security tool, called Windows Defender (see Figure 2), which includes a more user-friendly interface to edit your Windows startup list. Windows Defender is downloadable for Windows XP SP2 as well.

To access this tool in Vista, open Control Panel and under the Programs category click the Change startup programs link. In XP (and also in Vista) you can open Windows Defender by clicking Start > All Programs > Windows Defender. On the top of the Windows Defender window, click Tools, click Software Explorer, and then make sure the Startup Programs is chosen for the Category.

Once you have the Startup Programs list up on the screen, scroll through the applications and select ones you don't want to load when you log in to Windows, and then click the Remove button. To make sure you see all the applications, click the Show for all users button. Be careful not to disable your anti-virus and Internet security applications.

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