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Adding Applications to Windows Startup

written by: Pranav Thadeshwar•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 5/29/2009

In this article, we'll take a look at a couple of ways in which you can make an application start at Windows startup. Whether it's an application that doesn’t have a built-in setting or you want to load it with certain parameters, this article is for you!

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    The Startup Folder

    The Startup folder in Windows will allow you to run any application at startup. The good thing about this implementation is that each user on your computer gets their own Startup folder. To run any application at startup, all you have to do is make a shortcut to the application and move that shortcut to the Startup folder.

    Click on the Start button and navigate to "All Programs.” In the list, you will find an entry called "Startup.” This folder will contain shortcuts to many applications which autorun when Windows boots up. To add your own entry, right click Startup and click Open.

    This will open an Explorer window with the Startup folder selected. Just move the shortcut to the Startup folder and you'll find that the desired application will autorun the next time Windows reboots.

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    The Registry

    This method is a bit risky but functional. The Registry is one big collection of all the settings and information on your computer. Unless you've worked and messed with the registry before, it is advised to stay away from it. However, I'll still list the instructions on how you can add an application to autorun on Windows startup.

    1. Click on Start, and then Run. In the Run window, type "regedit.”

    2. This will open the Registry Editor. Before doing anything else, backup your registry by selecting My Computer in the tree and then clicking on File and Export. Save the registry hive in case you need to restore after messing up your registry.

    3. Now navigate to the tree: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > Software > Microsoft > Windows > Current Version > Run.

    4. On the right-hand-side now, you should be able to see applications that have been added to the autorun functionality through the Registry.

    5. Right click in the empty space on the right hand side and select "New > String Value"

    6. This will create a new entry where you can specify the location of the application you want to start.

    7. Make sure to type in the full path to the application you want to autorun in the Value Data field. For example, if you want to start Winamp when your computer boots up, just type "C:\Program Files\Winamp\winamp.exe", assuming that the Program Files folder is in the C drive. In the Value name field, you can enter anything you want.

    8. Now press OK and reboot your computer.

    The application you've specified in the Value Data field should boot up the next time Windows loads