Managing Startup Programs
Vista can launch programs for you when it starts, which can be both a blessing and a curse.
This feature is great for a program that you use regularly, such as your email or instant-messaging software, because that program can launch when Vista boots up, ready to go when you are. On the other hand, programs that you install may set themselves up to launch when the computer starts without asking your permission. This can cause your system to take a long time to boot or to run slowly; in rare cases, it could cause more serious problems.
In this section, you learn how to set up a program to start at launch and how to stop one from doing so.
Launch a program at startup
Many programs have the built-in ability to run at startup. Check the program’s settings for an option like Launch When Windows Starts. In AOL Instant Messenger 6, for example, you get to this option by choosing Edit > Settings > Sign In/Sign Out.
When a program doesn’t have this built-in capability, you can still program your PC to launch it when Vista starts. Here’s how:
- Right-click the Start button, and choose Explore from the shortcut menu.
Windows Explorer opens.
- In the bottom-left pane of the Explorer window, click the Startup folder (you may have to scroll down).
- Choose Start > All Programs.
- On the left pane, right-click the shortcut for the program you want to launch at startup; hold down the mouse button; drag the shortcut into the Startup folder of Windows Explorer; and release the mouse button.
- From the shortcut menu that appears, choose Copy Here.
Prevent programs from launching at startup
Trying to cut down on the amount of time it takes for your system to boot? Disabling the launch of programs at startup can be an effective strategy, and it’s easy to do.
Vista has a program called System Configuration, commonly known as MSCONFIG, that’s been a feature of most versions of Windows since Windows 98. (For some reason, it was not included in Windows 2000.) MSCONFIG provides a list of programs that are slated to start when Vista does and allows you to deselect any of those programs.
Use MSCONFIG cautiously, because it could disable programs that you need to run Vista or your software properly and safely. Write down all the settings before you make any changes. If a problem occurs after you restart your computer, run MSCONFIG again, and undo the changes. If your computer won’t start, start it in safe mode (see Lesson 16), undo the changes, and then restart normally.
- To access MSCONFIG, click the Start button, type msconfig in the Search box, and press Enter.
The System Configuration dialog box appears.
- Click the Startup tab.
- Scroll through the items in the list, and uncheck the check boxes next to any programs that you don’t want to launch at startup.
- Click OK.
MSCONFIG has lots of other handy uses, particularly for troubleshooting, and we’ll explore more of them in Lesson 16.