How to Stop Programs from Opening on Startup on Mac

Startup Items Mac Featured

It’s clear why you’re reading this guide – you’re annoyed by numerous applications that open as soon as you log in to your Mac. And yes, we fully understand your frustration. Those applications take time to close, making that a very tedious process. And more importantly, having numerous startup items can slow down your Mac significantly. 

However, there is nothing to worry about. The following are several ways to stop programs from opening on startup on your Mac. Check them out.

The Quickest Way – Using the macOS Dock

This first method of stopping programs from opening on startup applies to certain types of software only. More precisely, you can use it with applications that fully launch their interface, making their Dock icon active. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Right-click on the application’s icon using the macOS Dock. 

2. A menu should appear, so go ahead and hover over “Options.”

Startup Items Mac Dock Option

3. Lastly, click on “Open at Login” to make sure it is unchecked. This will disable that option, preventing the application from opening each time your Mac boots up.

Using macOS’s System Preferences

Certain types of applications can launch only their services upon startup. This means you don’t see their whole interface, but you may see their icons in the menu bar (for example). So, here’s how to prevent those applications from opening on macOS’s system startup.

1. Click on the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen. Then, click on “System Preferences.”

Startup Items Mac System Preferences

2. Navigate to “Users & Groups.”

3. Choose the user you want to modify using the sidebar on the left. Click on the “Login Items” tab at the top. (Don’t confuse this tab with “Login Options” available in the bottom-left corner.) 

Startup Items Mac User Profiles System Preferences Interface

4. Select the app you want to remove from login and press the minus button at the bottom of the list. This will remove the app from the list of login items, preventing it from launching.

Using macOS’s Finder

This one requires you to dive deep into your system files. However, this is also a very reliable way to deal with those stubborn apps that simply refuse to stop launching. Follow these steps: 

1. Using macOS’s menu bar, click on “Go.” Make sure to press and hold the Option key, making the “Library” item appear. Go ahead and click on “Library.”

2. Find the folder labeled “LaunchAgents.” To avoid having to search manually, press the L key on your keyboard. Find and open the “LaunchAgents” folder and make sure you’re opening the right one. (There are many similarly labeled folders.)

Startup Items Mac Launchagents Folder Library

3. You should see a group of “PLIST” files. Each of those is connected to a specific program that runs on your macOS’s startup. These files can have very long names, so double-click on any of those (double-click while making a small pause between the clicks) to reveal their full names. 

Startup Items Mac Moving File To Trash

4. Identify the application you’re after. Remove that file by dragging it to the Trash. Alternatively, you can right-click on that file and choose “Move to Trash.” That’s it!

We also have one more tip for you. It’s true that some startup items can be found in folders labeled LaunchDaemons, LaunchAgents, and StartupItems. (All of those are located in the Library folder.) However, we don’t recommend making changes to those, as they affect more than your macOS account. 


Those are the three ways to stop programs from opening on startup on a Mac. If you’re interested in learning more about your computer, we recommend a couple of resources. First, here’s how to hide user accounts from macOS’s login screen. Additionally, here’s a very interesting guide to customizing macOS Big Sur.

Isaac Norman
Isaac Norman

Isaac is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience covering the latest technological innovations. Mainly focused on Apple-related software and hardware systems, his aspiration is to explore all the ways today's digital world intertwines with our everyday life.

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