How to add, remove and manage Macintosh Login Items in Mac OS X: Mac Guide

How to add, remove and manage Macintosh Login Items in Mac OS X: Mac Guide
Page content

What are Mac OS X Login Items?

Login Items in Mac OS X are items that open automatically when a user logs in. They can be applications, files, folders or web addresses. The list of login items is different for every user account.

Some software applications add login items to a user account when the software is installed. This can happen without your knowing it.

In addition, you can set up login items for your own account manually.

The following instructions will show you how to manually setting up login items for your user account…

How to Find Login Items on your Mac OS X

In version 10.2.8 or earlier, you must log in as the user whose login items you want to modify. In later versions, you can log in as the user or as an admin.

To change your Login Items:

Step 1

Click the Apple symbol in the top right corner of your screen. Alternatively you can open Finder, go to Applications, then Utilities and double-click on “System Preferences.”

Step 2

Once in System Preferences:

For version 10.2.8 or earlier, click “Login Items” on the View menu.

For version 10.3.x or later:

Click on “Accounts” in the System section of the box and click the login account on the left that you want to modify the login items for. If the account is grayed out, it means that you do not have sufficient permissions to modify the login items for that user.

Mac OS X System Preferences

Click the “Login Items” tab (“Startup Items” in version 10.3.x). This will bring up a list of login items associated with the account selected on the left.

Step 3

Click the “Add” or “+” button to add a login item to the list. Find the item to add in the browse box that appears and click “Add.”

If you want to delete a login item, highlight it and click the “–“ button.

For login items you want to start on login but do not want the window to stay open, put a check in the box to the left of the item in the list under the Hide column.

Mac OS X Login Items

Managing and Troubleshooting Mac OS X Login Items

  • You can add items on the Dock to your login items list by right-clicking the item in the Dock then choosing “Options” then “Open at Login.” A checkmark appears next to Open at Login. Remove it by repeating this process to remove the checkmark.

  • The main thing to remember about login items is that, the more items in the list, the longer your login will take. If you enter your password, hit “Enter” then go get your morning coffee, this may be ok with you. However, if you don’t want to wait, you may want to trim down the login items list.

  • At times you may experience a hang up at login. To see if a login item is causing it, you must boot to Safe Mode and remove everything from the list to see if your login clears up. Here’s how to do it:

1. Start your Mac in Safe Mode: Shut down your Mac and wait 30 seconds. Hold down the Shift key and the power button at the same time. Keep holding the Shift key down until you see the Apple logo and progress circle, then let go. Enter your password at the login prompt then hold down the Shift key again and click “Log in.”

2. Make a list of your login items then delete them: Follow the procedure described in Section 2 above and write down all of your login items. Delete everything from the list.

3. Restart your Mac normally. If your login problem disappears, you know it was one of the login items you removed causing it. Re-add each login item one at a time and restart until you find the one that is at fault. Delete this item from the list.


  1. Author’s own experience.
  5. Screen shots provided by the author.