Software

How to track down the Startup folder in Windows 10

There are various ways to access the Windows 10 Startup folder--but this Shell command trick cuts to the chase.

hero

Image: iStockphoto.com/Vaniatos


Do you know where the Startup folder is in Windows 10? When I was asked that question recently, my immediate thought was that it's on the Start menu. But that hasn't been the case since Windows 7. Now, in my defense, although I use Windows 10 at home, I have been using Windows 7 at work. So sometimes, I get confused since I'm sort of stuck in two worlds—Windows wise, that is.

In any case, once I recovered my Windows wits, I figured that the quickest way to locate the Startup folder in Windows 10 would be to click the Start button and then type Startup. While that works, it takes you directly to the system-level Startup folder that applies to all users of the system—not to the logged-in user's Startup folder, which is what my inquisitor was looking to find.

Whoa, that's two strikes. Fortunately, I was playing out this scenario on my own before actually responding to the question.

Of course, there's the brute force method, where you enable the Show Hidden Files option in File Explorer and then manually drill down through the path C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. But that is definitely the tedious method. I knew there had to be a shortcut to the logged-in user's Startup folder, and when I recalled that it was a Shell command, I figured I should write an article about it.

SEE: How to remove unwanted apps from Windows 10 (even though Microsoft doesn't want you to)

Using the Shell command

While you can use Explorer, the Control Panel, or the Start menu to access most of the key features in Windows 10, sometimes a shortcut can be more useful. Hidden in the Windows 10 architecture is a whole host of special shortcuts known as Shell commands. To use a Shell command, all you need to do is press [Windows]+R to access the Run dialog box and type the word shell, followed by a colon (:) and the command, as in:

Shell:command

Notice that there are no spaces between the word Shell and the colon and the command name—it is essentially one word.

Now, if you read my article How to use the Shell command to view all your applications in File Explorer, you already know about the Shell command. In that article, I showed you how to use the Shell command to view the Applications folder in Windows 10. To do so, press [Windows]+R, type shell:AppsFolder in the Open text box, and press Enter.

Fortunately, this technique of accessing the Applications folder fits in nicely with the technique I'm about to show you. So keep this in mind as we move on.

SEE: Securing Windows policy (Tech Pro Research)

Accessing the logged-in user's Startup folder

To access the logged-in user's Startup folder, press [Windows]+R, type shell:startup in the Open text box as shown in Figure A, and press Enter.

Figure A

Figure A
Use the shell:startup command to access the logged-in user's Startup folder.

Accessing the All Users Startup folder

To access the All Users Startup folder, press [Windows]+R, type shell:common startup in the Open text box as shown in Figure B, and press Enter.

Figure B

Figure B
Use the shell:common startup command to access the All Users Startup folder.

Adding applications to a Startup folder

Now that you know how to access both the logged-in user's Startup folder and the All Users Startup folder, you can use the shell:AppsFolder technique to access the Applications folder and easily add application shortcuts to the Startup folder of your choice. To do so, use the Shell commands to access the Applications folder and a Startup folder. Then, just use drag and drop from the Applications folder to the Startup folder, as shown in Figure C. When you do, Windows will automatically create a shortcut.

Figure C

fig-c-10-31.png
Use drag and drop to add application shortcuts to a Startup folder.

Also read...

What's your take?

Do you know where the Startup folder is in Windows 10? Will you use these Shell command shortcuts to access a Startup folder? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Greg Shultz

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.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox