If you used the Windows operating system prior to Windows 8 and Windows 10, you know that back in those days, the only place you could really manage the programs that launch at startup was from the Startup tab in the good old System Configuration tool (aka MSCONFIG). However, in Windows 8 and subsequently Windows 10, Microsoft moved the Startup tab from the System Configuration tool to Task Manager.
In addition to letting you disable programs, the new Startup tab offers some enhanced functionality. For example, you can track down the location of a file on your hard disk as well as instantly search the Web for more detailed information about a program. You can also get detailed information by enabling additional columns in its default view. Let's take a closer look.
The Startup tab
To access the Startup tab, you'll first need to launch Task Manager. To do so, navigate to the Windows 10 desktop and right-click on the taskbar. Then, select Task Manager from the context menu, as shown in Figure A.
To launch Task Manager, simply right-click on the taskbar.
When Task Manager appears, select the Startup tab, as shown in Figure B.
The Startup tab shows you all the applications that are configured to launch when you start Windows.
On this tab you'll find a list of all the programs that are configured to launch when Windows starts. To find out more about any of the programs, simply right-click on the one you want to investigate. When the context menu appears, choose any of the available options, as shown in Figure C.
The context menu allows you to learn more about your start up applications.
- Select Disable to render the program inoperative. (Once a program is disabled, this command will change to Enable.)
- Select Open File Location to launch File Explorer targeted on the folder that contains the program's executable file.
- Select Search Online to launch your browser and see the results of a search for the filename in your favorite search engine.
- Select Properties to open a standard Windows Properties dialog box, where you can find all kinds of information about the file.
In addition to deriving information from any of the commands on the context menu, you can determine how much or little a program is affecting the startup time by looking at the value in the Startup Impact column, as shown in Figure D. This measurement is determined by the amount of CPU time and disk usage the application requires during startup. You can then use this value to determine which applications are adding time to the startup procedure, thus helping you decide what applications to disable.
The Startup Impact column shows how much or little a program is affecting the startup time.
According to Microsoft, impact values are determined by applying these criteria:
- High impact—Apps that use more than 1 second of CPU time or more than 3 MB of disk I/O at startup
- Medium impact—Apps that use 300 ms - 1000 ms of CPU time or 300 KB - 3 MB of disk I/O
- Low impact —Apps that use less than 300 ms of CPU time and less than 300 KB of disk I/O
You can get more detailed information about the startup impact of your particular applications by adding columns to the Start tab's default view. To do so, right-click on a column heading to display a list of available column headers in the context menu, as shown in Figure E.
You can add columns to the Startup tab's default view.
By adding the Disk I/O At Startup and the CPU At Startup columns and then sorting by the Startup Impact column, as shown in Figure F, you can get a clear picture of your applications' startup impact.
The Disk I/O At Startup and the CPU At Startup columns show you exactly how much resources an application is using at startup.
The Startup Type column will identify where the application launches from: the Registry or a Folder. The Running column will tell you if the application is currently running. The Disabled Time will tell you how long an application you disabled has been in that state. And the Command Line column will show you the exact path and executable file Windows uses to launch the application.
More Windows how-to's
- How to perform a secure disk wipe with Windows 10's Format command
- How to use Cortana to perform file management tasks in Windows 10
- How to use the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop in Windows 10
- How to troubleshoot a flakey Windows 10 system with the Memory Diagnostics Tool
- How to track down the Startup folder in Windows 10
What's your take?
Have you investigated all the features on Task Manager's Startup tab in Windows 10? Are you concerned about Startup impact on your system? Share your experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.