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It's often convenient to have something start automatically when you login. There are two places you can specify this that are pretty easy to use.

I have a laptop with XP and would like to have it boot and open my Palm desktop. I can't figure a way to get it added to msconfig's startup file, and I can no longer just go into autoexec.bat and add it. Any suggestions??

Of course!

MSConfig is a great tool to use to remove things from your computer's start-up, but it's not really intended to add things.

And while there are maybe a couple of dozen places where start-up things can be placed, there's really only two you probably need to know about when adding things of your own. And the great news is that they're very easy to change.

By far the easiest way to have something happen automatically on log in is to add a shortcut to your Startup menu. What's that? That's one of the menu items you'll find within the All Programs menu item underneath your Start menu:

Startup menu

Windows treats the Startup menu specially: it runs whatever it finds there when you login.

In other words, it does exactly what you're asking for.

To add something to your Startup menu, start by right-clicking on the Start menu:

Right Click Pop-up menu on Start button

Here, you'll need to make a choice. Recall I said there are two places you'll probably need to know about, and this is where that comes up.

Click on Explore if you want to add a startup item that applies only to the account you're logged in as. In other words, click on Explore when there are other accounts on your machine and you don't want to add something to automatically start for all of them.

Click on Explore All Users if you want to add a startup item that applies to every account. So for example, you would click on Explore All Users if you wanted to add something that automatically starts no matter what account logs in.

If you're unsure I'd recommend just using Explore, which I'll do here:

Windows Explorer open on the Start Menu

You can see that this is just Windows Explorer opened on "C:\Documents and Settings\LeoN\Start Menu", which is the folder on my machine where my personal start menu items are stored.

Expand "Start Menu", on the left, and then "Programs", and then click on "Startup", and you should see something similar to this:

Windows Explorer open on Startup sub menu

Naturally the list of programs you may or may not see there will be different.

There are several ways to create a shortcut to what you want to run.

The most obvious is probably to right-click in the empty area on the right, and select New and then Shortcut:

Creating a new shortcut in Windows Explorer

Then just follow the steps to locate the program or file you want to automatically launch on start up.

An alternate way I find a little less error prone is to use drag-and-drop to create a new shortcut from an existing menu item.

With Windows Explorer opened as above on your Startup menu folder (either your own, or All Users), click on the Start menu, and locate the item you want to have start automatically. Click and hold on that item, and then drag it over to Windows explorer. Don't release just yet. Here's an example of my clicking, holding and dragging TrueCrypt into my Startup folder:

Click and Drag adding to Startup folder

Before you release, press the ALT key so that the plus sign near the icon you're about to drop changes to a shortcut indicator:

ALT Click and Drag adding to Startup folder

Now release the mouse button, and a shortcut will be placed in that Startup folder:

Startup menu folder with added shortcut

And if you look at your Start menu's Startup item, you'll see it shows up there now as well:

Startup menu with new item

Now each time I log in to my machine, TrueCrypt will be started for me automatically.

Article C3048 - June 7, 2007 « »

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.

Not what you needed?

J. Tate
June 8, 2007 6:32 PM

good info. Now, if I could just get rid of some Start-Ups.

June 8, 2007 10:49 PM

Love the article, but how do I get past the login: User Name & Password..

Seems my beast has a nasty habit of rebooting during the night ( unintended).. Tried to nail the problem "BSOD" but made little progress..
Presently, I just let it reboot and usually find the machine waiting for a login in the morning,,
It would be easier if I could make this step go away..

Thanks for listening

June 9, 2007 3:03 PM

I'll chime in for leo on this one rojoloho, what you're looking for is "tweakui". It's a powertoy from M$, you can get it here: Once you install it and open it from your control panel you'll see a "logon" tab. Fill in the blanks and you'll wake up to a desktop in the morning. As you'll see it also has many other little tweaks you might be able to use...

July 20, 2007 6:28 AM

A great help, thank you very much Leo.

July 24, 2007 10:25 AM

Thanks, really good tip.

Avi Green of Barclay School Supplies
May 18, 2011 6:32 AM

This doesn't work under Windows 7. How do I do it under Win7?

It should work pretty much the same in Windows 7. We'd need to know where it fails for you.

March 16, 2012 6:48 AM

When I right click on the right side of the startup area it does not display "shortcut" it only displays "folder"

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