Evaluate and manage startup applications in Windows, using the Task Manager

Microsoft has improved the startup time a lot, in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1. While you’ll certainly notice the snappy get-up-and-go time in the beginning, you’ll still find that, over time, performance will degrade. The main reason why a Windows device slows at startup is the lengthening of the list of startup applications and services. As you install more and more desktop apps, they sneak themselves or their agents onto the startup list. Windows is forced to load more and more before it can take input from you. To help you keep things manageable, Microsoft has added a new tab to the Task Manager. It allows you to monitor startup apps, their impact on the time it takes to load everything and keep them under control. Here’s how it works and how you can use it to improve the startup time of your Windows computers and devices:

NOTE: This guide applies to both Windows 10 and Windows 8.1. For simplicity, all our screenshots were made in Windows 10.

How to view the list of startup apps and programs, using the Task Manager

First, launch the Task Manager. Take a look at this article for more information on how to do that: 10 Ways to start the Task Manager in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1.

If the Task Manager is opened in the compact view , expand it by clicking or tapping “More details”. Then, go to the Startup tab.

Task Manager, Windows, Startup, apps, programs, slow, disable, information

When you view the Startup tab you see the list of applications currently scheduled to start each time your Windows computer or device starts up. Some applications have arrows to their left and numbers in parenthesis to their right. These represent applications that have multiple processes running at startup.

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To view all of the processes beneath these nested processes, click the arrow to their left. These subprocesses will be disabled or enabled based on the status of the parent process.

Task Manager, Windows, Startup, apps, programs, slow, disable, information

Another option for expanding the nested subprocesses is to right-click or long-press the parent process and click or tap Expand.

Task Manager, Windows, Startup, apps, programs, slow, disable, information

To save time and expand all nested processes at once, for all apps in the Startup list, click or tap View and then “Expand all .

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The Startup tab now shows all nested processes in a long, expanded list.

How to learn more about startup programs in Windows

By default, each startup application is listed with its publisher, status and startup impact. This basic information is enough for you to form a general opinion on how much each desktop app affects the startup time:

  • Publisher - This column lists the name of the company that published the software. This aids in identifying each program.
  • Status - This column lists whether each program is enabled or disabled during the startup procedure. Disabled programs are blocked from starting when Windows boots.
  • Startup Impact - This column gives you a general idea of how large an impact each program has: high impact (such apps use more than one second of CPU time or more than 3MB of disk input/output), medium impact (such apps use 300 ms to 1 second of CPU time or 300 KB to 3 MB of disk input/output) or low impact (such apps use less than 300 ms of CPU time and less than 300 KB of disk input/output).

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While the basic information listed gives you a rough idea of how these programs affect the startup procedure, the Task Manager is capable of delivering much more information.

If you want more details, right-click or long-press a column header to expand a list of optional columns. Then, click or tap the fields of information that you want to enable.

Task Manager, Windows, Startup, apps, programs, slow, disable, information

Here are the additional columns that you can add to the Startup tab in the Task Manager :

  • Startup type - This provides information about how each application is scheduled to startup whether it be using the Windows Registry or the Windows startup folder.
  • Disk I/O at startup - This column lists the amount of input and output required from your hard disk during the startup of each program.
  • CPU at startup - This column lists the amount of CPU time required by the startup application.
  • Running now - This column lists whether or not the listed application is currently running.
  • Disabled time - This column lists the date and time you disabled the application from the startup list.
  • Command line - This column displays the commands used to launch the application.

In the screenshot below you can view all the columns enabled. As you can see, the Startup tab gets quite loaded with information.

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On some Windows devices, you will also see a field named “Last BIOS time:” , which is placed in the top-right corner of the Startup tab. The purpose of this field is to tell you how long it took to load the BIOS or, more exactly, the amount of time between pressing the Power button on your device and seeing the screen that indicates that Windows is loading.

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How to disable startup programs from Windows

If you determine that there is an application scheduled to run at startup that you don’t want, or that you don’t feel is worth the amount of resources it requires, you can disable it to block it from running at the Windows startup. To do this, right-click or long-press the listed application and click or tap Disable.

Task Manager, Windows, Startup, apps, programs, slow, disable, information

Alternatively, you can also select the app and then click or tap the Disable button in the bottom-right corner of the Task Manager.

Conclusion

With the inclusion of the Startup tab in the Task Manager , Microsoft has made it easier than ever before to manage what applications are allowed to run when your computer starts up. Check back in on this tab now and again to cull any unnecessary apps that make their way onto it and you’ll enjoy faster startups and a more efficient use of your system’s resources. For more information about the new Task Manager ’s awesome features, take a look at the articles recommended below.