Whenever you boot up your PC, Windows loads up startup programs that open at the same time as the operating system. These programs are controlled through a startup folder on your Windows PC. Here we show you where to find the Windows Startup Folder and control what’s inside that folder (for all users as well as for the signed-in user). We also show how to locate and disable the startup apps from Windows utilities such as Task Manager, Command Prompt, and Registry Editor.
Locating the Windows Startup Folder in Windows
There are two different kinds of startup folders in Windows: one for all users and the other one for the current user who’s logged in on the device. Both folder paths can be easily located from the File Explorer window. The startup folder path for the current user is: “C:UsersUserAppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuProgramsStartup”
Similarly, the Windows 10/11 Startup folder for all users is located at: “C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuProgramsStartUp.”
Instead of navigating through this long path, you can simply press Win + R to open the Run box, then type
shell:common startup, and the above folder will open at that location.
To find the Windows 10/11 Startup folder for the current user, just type
shell:startup after Win + R .
Once you’re in the Startup folder, you may be surprised to find that the programs that usually start up with Windows aren’t actually here.
You can manually add program shortcuts here, and they’ll start up with your PC from now on, but apps that have been automatically added by third-party software or Windows 10 are controlled from the Task Manager.
Locating the Windows Startup Folder Programs from Task Manager
The Startup folder is empty in Windows because its functions have been superseded by the Task Manager, Registry, Command Prompt and other system apps. That’s why some of the programs which you commonly encounter in startup can’t be located directly from the File Explorer.
To access these, you can use the Task Manager. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc, then click the Startup tab. From here you can control the rest of your startup programs, right-clicking them and enabling or disabling them as you please.
For some of these startup programs in Task Manager, their “open file location” is sometimes greyed out. If you want the precise location of these startup files, there are other methods detailed below.
Locating Windows Startup Folder Programs from Command Prompt
You can locate the programs in the Startup folder from the Windows Command Prompt or the newly launched Windows Terminal. Open either of these programs in Admin mode and enter the following:
The above will give you a quick summary of all your startup applications and their precise paths which run the startup. Once their file location is revealed, you can easily search for them in File Explorer.
Locating Startup Programs in Registry
If you can’t access any unwanted startup programs through the above methods, the Windows registry is one of the last places to search.
To access it, press Win + R followed by typing
regedit. Once open, go down the following path to find all the startup programs.
Although you can, you shouldn’t remove the important programs, such as the main browser you’re using.
Identify the startup programs you were unable to disable from the Task Manager window. Right-click to delete them from AutoStart.
Replace “HKEY_CURRENT_USER” with “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” and go down a similar path to find system apps on startup, such as “RealTek Audio” and “Windows Security notification” icon. These are obviously very important startup programs for the good health of your computer. Even though you can now disable them from the Registry, you shouldn’t.
The above methods in this guide will help you find any startup folders on your computer, including the ones that seem disabled or hidden from sight. To ensure you don’t have any corrupt programs from bad sources in your Starup menu, always download them from this list of safe websites.
Now that you know how to find the Windows Startup folder, you can check to see whether these apps are around, as they are known to slow down your Windows startup. You can also delay these startup items from loading immediately to improve the bootup speed.