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.


I have Outlook scheduled to start at the beginning of my work day, Monday through Friday. The great advantage for me is that the scheduled task wakes my computer from hibernation (which I choose at the end of the day), and has Windows started and ready for me to log in. In XP the Scheduled Tasks is in the Control Panel, in Win7 it is under the System and Security and then Administrative Tools, in the Control Panel. FYI - Adding something to the Startup folder or Schedule does not increase the "boot" time for Windows, as windows has to "loaded" before applications can run, regardless of how they launch.


This is generally a bad idea. And I can't believe anyone is suggesting it. This will make troubleshooting very difficult down the road. in 6 months someone will post a story on how to speed up your PC and you'll undo this. Just let Windows start-up cleanly and then open your apps yourself. It doesn't take that much extra time, and if you ever need to diagnose start-up issues it will go much easier. I can't believe I have to tell IT pros this.


Just right click and drag the icon the same location, then let go of the right mouse button. You will then be presented with the option to either move, copy or cancel. Another way is to double click on the Start up folder in the start menu (or right click and choose Open). This will open the folder in a new window; then you can either drag (left for straight move, or right to have options) the icon from the start menu to the folder, or right click the icon in the start menu and choose copy, then go back to the older and right click (or go to Edit), and choose paste, to add the shortcut. Many ways to skin this cat (you could also add an entry into the registry if you wanted, but this might be a little too complicated for many people).


Well, you do it your way, I'll do it mine. I can't believe that an IT pro wouldn't look for this first thing when tackling a startup issue. Yes, if you start up 10 apps, it's going to slow things down. If you start up your email client, not such a big deal. This is a common enough practice that it shouldn't cause any of your experts a problem. If users are going to open their email client as soon as they can, every morning, any way, why not save them a few extra clicks? They're all out getting their first cup of coffee while the system boots anyway. I think you're making much ado about nothing.

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