Automatically start an Office program when you turn on your computer

If you begin your workday in the same Office app every day, let Windows start that app for you.

If you're like me, you start your workday in an Office application, such as Outlook. If that's the case, you can skip a few manual steps by letting Windows open that application when you turn on your computer. Fortunately, do so is amazingly easy. However, every application you add to this process will slow down your boot time, so don't go overboard.

To illustrate this simple technique, let's move Outlook 2010 into the Startup folder, so Windows (XP) will launch it automatically when you on the computer:

  1. Click the Windows Start menu and point to All Programs.
  2. In the Start menu, point to Microsoft Office.
  3. Choose Outlook 2010.
  4. Drag office to the Startup folder on the Start menu. When this folder opens to the right to display a list of programs or [Empty], drop Outlook into the folder. You must wait for the Startup item to display its folder-otherwise, you might drop Outlook above or below Startup, and that's not what you want. You want to drop Outlook into the folder that appears to the right of Startup.

That's it! Every time you turn on your computer, Windows will launch Outlook 2010.

Moving a shortcut in this manner has one drawback that I find difficult to live with; the  shortcut isn't available via the Microsoft Office folder. If you close Outlook and then want to reopen it, you must use the Startup folder, which might be difficult to remember - it certainly isn't intuitive and this change will confuse your users.

If you want an Outlook shortcut in both folders, hold down the [Ctrl] key while dragging Outlook to the Startup folder (step 4). That way, Windows makes a copy of the shortcut instead of moving the shortcut.

Accomplishing this in Windows 7 can be more awkward, depending on your setup. Perhaps the easiest way is to pin Outlook to the Start menu. Then, open the Startup folder by typing shell:startup in the Windows Search control (at the bottom of the Start menu). With the Startup folder open, simply drag (hold down [Ctrl] to copy) the pinned Outlook shortcut from the Start menu to the Startup folder. There are other ways, but this seems the most generic, considering the many possible configurations.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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