DISABLE  UNWANTED  START-UP  PROGRAMS/TASKS

In this section I will teach you how to disable, and re-enable, unwanted programs/tasks from your Windows 10 start-up list using a tool called Autoruns from Microsoft Sysinternals. You need to download AutoRuns from the Windows SysInternals website and then install it before you can edit the Windows 10 start-up list.


As explained in the How To Correctly Switch On The Computer section, the Start-Up List is a list of programs/tasks that the computer executes (launches/runs) during its boot-sequence (start-up process). Hence the term Start-Up List.

In some cases you may not want a certain program/task launched (run/executed) during the boot-sequence. This could be because it is a program/task you do not need launching straight away, feel is not important and/or feel is slowing down your computer by using too many resources (i.e. too much Memory and CPU/Processing Time). An example of this is an Updater - A program that puts a task in the start-up list to check for updates (security updates, product updates and so on). So if you are happy with the program but do not want it checking for updates each time you switch on the computer you might want to disable the Updater task.

Another example is a piece of software that adds a Launcher to the start-up list. A launcher is a program within the software that executes (launches) some of its smaller tasks/programs during the boot-sequence, in the background, in order to speed up the launching (execution) of its main program (by you) later. This is okay if you want to use/launch the main program all the time but not so good if you rarely use/launch the main program.

DOWNLOAD,  EXTRACT  AND  LAUNCH  AUTORUNS

To disable, remove from the start-up list, an unwanted program/task you first need to download and EXTRACT ALL the .zip file called Autoruns.zip <<---- Click on this link or visit the Windows SysInternals website. Extracting a .zip file was explained in the File Decompression section.

Autoruns Explained

Fig 1.0 - Click on the DOWNLOAD AUTORUNS AND AUTORUNSC link to continue

Once you have extracted the Autoruns.zip file and are inside the Autoruns folder, right click on the Autoruns.exe file and select (left click on) the RUN AS ADMINISTRATOR menu-item. Doing so will give you the Administrator permissions needed to modify the items in the start-up list.

In this example I have downloaded the Autoruns.zip file into the DOWNLOADS folder and then extracted it from there, thereby creating an AUTORUNS sub-folder (within the DOWNLOADS folder) that contains the Autoruns executable file (.exe file). You will also see a file called Autorunsc inside that sub-folder. It is the Command Line (programmers) file version of Autoruns and should be ignored - Just right click on the Autoruns.exe file instead.

Autoruns Explained

Fig 1.1 - Right click on the Autoruns.exe file and select the RUN AS ADMNISTRATOR menu-item to continue

After clicking on the RUN AS ADMINISTRATOR menu-item a UAC (User Account Control) system requester will appear whereby you then need to click on its YES button to continue.

UAC System Requester

Fig 1.2 - Click on the UAC system requester's YES button to continue

User Account Control (UAC) is a feature of Windows 10 that helps to prevent unauthorized changes to the computer, such as deleting a system file or installing software. When attempting to modify the Windows 10 start-up list the UAC security requester above automatically blocks you off, because it wants to know if you are the one attempting to modify the Windows 10 start-up list and not a robotic piece of malicious software for example. In the above case simply click on the YES button to continue, or on the NO button to cancel the launch of Autoruns.


After the UAC system requester comes a License Agreement window where you must agree to the Terms & Conditions before continuing. Read the License Agreement carefully. Although these tend to contain useless information, they usually explain Copyright issues or Usage issues that clarify who can use the software and who cannot. So if, for example, you are told that a certain piece of software is Free and/or Free To Use you may want to clarify this by reading the agreement. Some installation wizards do not allow you to continue, by fading out the CONTINUE button, until you have read (scrolled down) the license agreement. When you are ready and if you agree, click on the AGREE button to continue.

Autoruns Explained

Fig 1.3 - Click on the AGREE button to continue

After agreeing to the Licence Agreement the Autoruns window appears, which might look a little intimidating at first but is quite easy to understand once you realise what little information you need from it. Meaning: The daunting part comes from seeing everything the program has to offer on the EVERYTHING Tab (window), but if you look closely you will see that the program is actually split into Tabbed (mini) windows. The part you are interested in is the LOGON Tab (Fig 1.5 below).

Autoruns Explained

Fig 1.4 - Blimey! That looks intimidating and scary!

In the example below I have clicked on the LOGON Tab to display the start-up list - The programs/tasks that get launched when the computer is first switched on. I have also made the window larger and customised it by stretching the tabbed window headings/titles (i.e. Autorun Entry, Description, Publisher and so on). Stretching is achieved by dragging the right-side of a heading/title. This may make the whole Autoruns program look a little friendlier!

Autoruns Explained

Fig 1.5 - Untick (Disable) or Tick (Enable) the program/task you want to disable/enable in the Start-Up List

DISABLE  OR  ENABLE  A  PROGRAM/TASK

To disable a program from starting up when the computer is switched on simply untick it and to re/enable a program simply tick it. So untick (disable) or tick (enable). Selecting a program/task, with or without clicking inside its tick box, will show details of that program/task in the Status Bar at the bottom of the window. In the above example details of the iTunesHelper.exe file, which I am currently unticking (disabling).

Autoruns, in terms of the start-up list, is basically editing the RUN (Start-Up) Entry within the registry for a particular program/task so that that program/task will either no longer be launched (run/executed) at start-up or will be run at start-up. For more information about the registry see the Registry section.

Autoruns Explained

Fig 1.6 - You can search the registry to locate a program's RUN (start-up list) entry

Software that uses an updater and/or launcher is normally software that wants to give you an enriched service and/or upgrades. These include Security Software (that checks for the latest security updates), Messengers (Chit-Chat Programs that check for the latest version and feature upgrades), Software Bundles (that come pre-installed on your computer) and Bulky Software (Office Packages and Paint Packages that use speed-up launchers). Known updaters include Web Browsers (i.e. Google Chrome), Programming Engines (i.e. Java), Adobe (Reader Speed Launcher) and iTunesHelper (also a speed launcher among other things).

An Updater can normally be disabled (removed from the start-up list) without any problems but with a Launcher you have to be careful just in case disabling it actually cripples the main program/software. iTunesHelper is an example. It gets executed (run) when Windows 10 starts up and has the job of checking for the existence of a plugged in iPod for example in order to give that iPod functionality within iTunes. If you disable iTunesHelper.exe iTunes will still work, but the iPod might not or it might but then lack functionality. Libre Office is another example. It launches some of its tasks during Windows 10 start-up so that some of the main functions within its office programs, such as Writer and Calc, can open and/or be utilised quicker.

WHERE  DID  AUTORUNS  INSTALL  TO?

When you first launch the Autoruns.exe executable file (Fig 1.1 above) to install it you might be surprised to find that it does not actually install as such. There is no trace of it in the Programs & Features control panel and no trace of it in the Programs Files system folder. So where was it installed? Nowhere! is the answer. The first launch just initiated it (set it up/registered it). Launching it again, once set up/registered, opens its window straight away without the need to re-install it. So do not try and find it in your computer, simply launch it again.

Autoruns Explained

Fig 1.7 - Other software may have a start-up list manager within them, like Norton Internet Security.

Besides Autoruns and manually editing registry entries, these days many security softwares have a start-up list manager within them; like Norton Internet Security 2015.