How to prevent apps from opening at startup on Windows and Mac

If you want to know how to prevent apps from opening on startup, we understand why – it’s one of the most annoying things about installing software on a Windows or Mac device.

Yes, you might want Spotify or Steam to start with your computer, but if every app does it against your will, you’re just wasting memory and system resources for fun, delaying boot times and slowing performance.

While every app likely has a hidden setting to prevent it from starting with MacOS or Windows, there are also ways to disable everything globally. Here’s how to prevent apps from opening at startup, in Windows and MacOS.

How to prevent apps from opening when Windows starts

Note: The steps are the same for Windows 10 and 11, although the screenshots below are from the latter.

1. To select Settings from the Windows Start menu.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2. To select applications in the submenu that appears.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

3. Click on Start from the available options. In Windows 11, it’s at the very bottom of the list.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

4. You’ll see a list of all optional apps that are required to start with Windows, along with a toggle to turn them on or off.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Apply them however you want, but write down the text “impact” to the right of each one, as it will tell you what benefit you will get from disabling a particular software. “No impact” or “low impact” may not be worth it, while “high impact” will dramatically improve boot times – or that’s Windows rating, anyway.

How to prevent apps from opening at startup in MacOS

1. press the menu button on your Mac – it’s the one in the shape of the Apple logo in the upper left corner of the screen. From there select System Preferences.

(Image credit: Apple)

2. In the menu that opens, select Users and groups.

(Image credit: Apple)

3. Change view to view Connection elements on the top bar. Click on an item you don’t want to start with MacOS, then press the minus button at the bottom of the window to remove it.

(Image credit: Apple)

4. There’s also an easier way to do this on an app-by-app basis. Correct right click on an item open in the dock, select Options then check or uncheck Open on login.

(Image credit: Apple)

Pretty simple anyway, then – but the result will be a much faster startup process and no time wasted closing unwanted apps.

For more time-saving tutorials, head over to the How To section of Tom’s Guide.


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