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There are several ways to auto start a program under Windows. Unfortunately, only one of the auto start methods is easy.

I have a program that I want to auto start every time when windows starts, how can I do that? I know that i can do it when i put it in start folder in "programs". But I don't want to do it at that way, are there any other methods? Is it possible to create a batch file or something and write what the program is named and just click on the batch file one time, and the program will start every time when the windows starts, or do you have other ideas?

The batch file idea reminds me of the old "autoexec.bat" file that would run every time MS-DOS was booted. That file still exists for some compatibility reasons, but it's no longer used at all.

There are other ways, but things get pretty geeky pretty quick if you don't want to use the Start menu functionality.

I'll start by saying this: unless you know what you're doing, the Start menu - or more correctly the Start->[All] Programs->Startup sub menu - is the easiest, quickest and safest way to do it. It's what I honestly recommend - even if you need to set up an auto-login to make it happen on boot.

All you need do is create a shortcut within that sub menu to whatever it is you want and it will be run each time you log in.

Now, if you're still set on finding other ways, my recommendation would be to grab the tool "autoruns" from SysInternals.com. It will list everything that auto-starts on your machine, and from where.

"You probably want to know what you're doing before you attempt to add things to the registry"

You'll see several entries that are in the registry, for one example:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

has many programs listed there on my machine. You can easily look at the examples of what's already there on your own.

The several different registry keys have different purposes. They run as different users, and auto-run at different times (Boot versus user login, for example). They may not have access to everything you need, though, based on permissions and the state of the machine as it's booting up.

You probably want to know what you're doing before you attempt to add things to the registry. It's also why I say that the Start menu approach is much easier.

But the start menu, and the registry, are pretty much your only options.

Article C2745 - August 6, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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26 Comments
Ivan Tadej
August 9, 2006 5:38 PM

Just for the record (and for users still using Windows 95/98/ME): on 9x-based Windows operating-systems there were also "run=" and "load=" lines in the "win.ini" file, which purpose was to load programs (and drivers, read on); where the run= one was intended to run programs and load= one to load any additional drivers.

________

best regards,
Ivan Tadej, Slovenija, EU
http://www.tadej-ivan.be/

Richard
April 12, 2007 11:30 PM

Another idea - you can convert your program or script to Windows Service. This service will start your program after computer restart even if no user is logged on.
I recommend to use ExeToService.
http://www.exetoservice.com/

Ankit Kaul
April 27, 2007 5:03 AM

This article helped me a lot. That's what I can say...

Jankovic Milan
March 16, 2008 5:28 AM

How about using the Local Computer Policy (if the computer is not a member of a domain) and add a Startup/Logon Script

Jankovic Milan, Belgrade, Serbia

Ramya Dasaratha
April 5, 2008 4:36 AM

Hi,
I chanced upon this site as Iw as searching for info on auto start ups. Nice site with lot of information, Thanks.
I need a little more help. I have tried the start up option. But that does not do waht I need. I have an exe that I would like to run before anything is shown on the desktop to the user. The app should take over the screen before anyone can see anything else about the desktop. I saw your note about downloading autoruns. And I installed it on my machine. Boy, there's a whole bunch of things that auto start up on my machine. But how do I know the order of these things? If I knew the order, I could probably set my app to be the first to be started. But even then, there might be some windows apps that need to be running before mine can start.
I am looking at exetoService.com as suggested in a user comment above. I also have a service that this app responds to. Will that in anyway be jeoparadized if I turn this exe into a service?

Please let me know what my options are at this point.

Thanks for your help,
Ramya

Ramya Dasaratha
April 6, 2008 5:45 AM

I used the exetoservice software to convert my app to a service and set it up. I think it works great now and addresses my needs very well. Thanks you for the info on this web site. This was so helpful.
Ramya

Cedie
July 14, 2008 5:13 AM

HELP!! i need to know how to directly start a program example... When your friend asks a file and you send it by msn i want the program or file to start or open directly after download... Tell me please,,. Thanks

Leo
July 14, 2008 9:55 AM

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

Starting a program automatically after a download (without
the recipient explicitly saying "now run this") would be a
HUGE security hole and would open up the doors to malware
even wider than they already are. I'm not aware of a way to
do that on an IM file transfer, and I wouldn't recommended
it if I did.

Leo


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Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

iD8DBQFIe4TyCMEe9B/8oqERAi5NAJ4ld2RnolKqwj0rA5LqMKigjXx6sACeIUUY
ZoSVixxloiX4lQqZgZiNVg4=
=5hWJ
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

bong
October 12, 2008 3:38 PM

I have question LEo, how to mapping drive auto to user when they login.I use Terminal Service Client that i want they all put they data on server.Example i have folder on D:/Share on server i want when theyuser login,automatically mapping drive z on they computer.Thank

Jack Mader
October 15, 2008 7:25 AM

Great information. To take this a step further. I have a small freeware executable (Windows) that I want to distribute. I want to include in the install script the ability for the user to either run this program at every boot up and/or at a specified time every day. Is there an easy way to do this?? Thanks

Subhasis
December 10, 2008 11:13 PM

I never dare edit registry without guide, but this time Google Web accelerator has stopped running with simple startup folder procedure. I think it is not responding when evoked at an early stage of boot and I need to set up a time, like- '200 seconds after boot' for it to successfully autostart. Even Symbian has a software that can do this but not PC? Is it possible to achieve this by editing the registry? the functions of -atboottime,-osboot,/c,/m etc are not clear to me.

mnzr
December 31, 2008 12:00 PM

what is the command to make batch file auto run every windows start up?

Create a shortcut to it in Start->Programs->Startup
- Leo
01-Jan-2009

Rich
January 27, 2009 11:24 AM

First off let me just say GREAT site!!
I'm looking to auto start an older DOS program, but when i put it in startup it does start the program.. BUT minimized on the task bar..
anyway I can have a program start and start full screen?

Mark
March 24, 2009 1:41 PM

Hi, I like autorun from SysInternals.

I use ZoneLabs Security Suite that needs to be started before Outlook -- for junk mail filtering. ZoneLabs always start at log in, is there a way to start Outlook after all post login processes start?

Thanks,
Mark

TejRaj Seelamsetti
June 14, 2009 12:02 AM

I want run my JAVA program during booting process How is it possible?

nightstars
December 14, 2009 6:50 PM

What if a .exe program requires a "start" button to be pushed, or Alt S. Can this be handled from a autoexec.bat command line?

Thanks

David Reese
December 27, 2009 4:14 AM

For the novice: Start>All Programs>Startup then Right Click and Open All Users. Copy and paste the shortcut to your program in All Users. Very simple.

haijun
January 17, 2010 11:37 PM

How do I run a program after login widows 20 minutes?

Shreesha
January 31, 2010 11:42 PM

Can i automaticaly connect broadband connection when windows starts. If yes how ??

Keith L.
February 12, 2010 8:30 PM

I have the opposite question. I have too much software that has decided for itself that it needs to start itself automatically every time I boot up. Is there an easy way to find out what these are and remove them?


Interociter Operator
February 16, 2010 5:05 PM

SPYBOT Search and Destroy allows you to turn them off without losing everything. Available at www.downloads.com http://download.cnet.com/Spybot-Search-amp-Destroy/3000-8022_4-10122137.html?tag=mncol

Marathi
April 19, 2010 10:37 PM

I dont think Startup style works. Rather replace msmgs.exe(Windows Messenger) with ur app. I am trying to shutdown pc after 5 seconds on startup. Is there any other opt?

Nand
November 16, 2010 12:00 PM

I NEED a best solution to implements autorun in my c++ Network Monitor software which
works in any windows platforms.

Reply will be appreciated.... thnks

mdmilonkhan
January 1, 2011 6:32 PM

YOU CAN COPY A SHORTCUT TO THE START UP FOLDER.
FIRST RIGHT CLICK ON THE APPLICATION .EXE FILE, >>SEND TO >> DESKTOP (BY CREATING SHORTCUT)
THEN GO TO DESKTOP AND RIGHT CLICK ON THE SHORTCUT >>CUT
AT-LAST GO TO :C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
AND PAST THE SHORTCUT TO THIS FOLDER

the .bat man
September 18, 2011 8:59 PM

Interociter Operator, theres a simple way to do that with the startup menu. create a .bat file in the sub menu. put the code "shutdown -s -t 5" in the .bat file and it will shut it down in 5 seconds of startup. hope this helps

Jessica Olsen
November 28, 2011 6:08 PM

You can use the msconfig.exe to change a program or service to auto-start or not. Click Run>type "msconfig" and hit enter. The last two tabs are programs and services the auto-start.
The other way is to use Administrative Tools>Services. You can click on a program or service and see the settings. You can change them to auto or disable. The list shows the cureent state and whethere it is running already. You can start and stop services and find out what other services they rely on. Tread carefully.

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