How to Access the Startup Folder in Windows 10

How to Access the Startup Folder in Windows 10

/ Shayne Sherman

Windows startup folder was an integral part of Windows that goes way back to Windows 95. In the past versions of Windows, the startup folder was easily accessible. Any program or software inside would automatically run by default when you boot up Windows 10.

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In earlier versions of Windows, the startup folder in Windows would run a batch script that contained a list of programs that would run automatically along with the Windows operating system.

In the past, users would modify the batch script file using a text editor to include custom programs ready for use every time Windows boots up.

Windows decided to add a dedicated graphical interface to its operating system to move away from using command lines and batch scripts to customize its startup folder.

Even though Windows completely changed how to include various programs to run during boot, the startup folder is still present in Windows 10.

How to Access Windows 10 Startup Folder

In previous versions of Windows, the startup folder in Windows can be easily located in the start menu. The startup folder contains programs installed on your computer and is set to run automatically whenever your computer is turned on.

However, when Windows 8 was released, the start menu was removed entirely from the operating system, which gathered a lot of criticism and negative feedback from long-time Windows users. Because of this, the start menu was added back shortly after releasing Windows 10. Now there are two startup folders in Windows 10, which are located in different locations.

Access the Startup Folder Using Windows File Explorer

To access the startup folder in Windows 10, you must first enable the ‘Show Hidden Files‘ option. To do this, follow the guide below.

  1. Press the Windows key + S on your computer and search for Control Panel.
  2. After that, click on Open to launch the Control Panel.
Control Panel

3. Inside the Control Panel, click on File Explorer Options.

File Explorer Option

4. Lastly, click on the View tab and make sure that ‘Show Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives‘ is Enabled.

Show Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives is Enabled

Once you are done enabling this option on Windows 10, you can now locate the Windows 10 startup folder.

To access the ‘All Users Startup Folder,’ check out the guide below.

  1. Press the Windows key + S on your computer and search for File Explorer.
  2. After that, click on Open.
File Explorer

3. On the side menu, click on Local Disk (C:) or the drive where Windows installation files are installed.

4. Now, click on the Program Data folder.

5. Inside the Program Data folder, click on the Microsoft folder, then the Windows folder.

6. Lastly, click on Start Menu > Programs > Startup.

Startup

To access the ‘Current Users Startup Folder‘, follow the steps below to guide you through the process.

  1. Press the Windows key + S on your computer and search for File Explorer.
  2. After that, click on Open.
File Explorer

3. On the side menu, click on Local Disk (C:) or the drive where Windows installation files are installed.

4. Next, click on the Users folder and select the username of the user you wish to access its startup folder.

5. Lastly, navigate through the following folders App Data > Roaming > Microsoft > Windows > Start Menu > Programs > Startup.

Startup

Now you can customize the programs on the Windows 10 startup folder that you want to be executed whenever Windows is booted on your computer.

Access the Startup Folder Using Run Command

An easier way to access the Windows 10 startup folder is by jumping directly to the folder using the shell command. To use the Run Command, check out the guide below.

  1. Press the Windows key + S on your computer and search for ‘Run.’
  2. After that, click on Open to launch the Run Command.
Run

3. Lastly, type Shell:common startupto access ‘All Users Startup Folder‘ and type Shell:startup for ‘Current User Startup Folder.’

Shell:common startup

Enable and Disable Startup Programs on Windows 10

Suppose you want an easier way to manage your startup programs in Windows 10. In that case, you can use Task Manager to enable and disable programs automatically executed during Windows startup.

  1. Press CTRL + ALT + DEL key on your computer to open the selection menu.
  2. After that, click on Task Manager.
  3. Inside the Task Manager, click on the Startup tab.
wsf 4.3

4. Lastly, right-click on the program you want to change and select ‘Enable‘ or ‘Disable.

Alternatively, you can also customize your startup programs via Windows Settings. To do this, follow the steps below.

  1. Press the Windows key + I to open Windows Settings on your computer.
  2. Next, click on Apps.
wsf 4.4

3. Lastly, click on Startup from the side menu and select the programs you want to include or exclude from being executed on startup.

Startup Apps

Managing Startup on Other Versions of Windows

If you are not running Windows 10 on your system, you can manage your startup programs using MSConfig since the Startup tab is not in the Task Manager.

The Task Manager is a built-in tool in Windows used to control your system’s behavior when it boots and allows you to modify programs that should run when you turn on your computer.

Check out the guide below to use MSConfig to manage your startup programs.

  1. Press the Windows key + R on your computer to launch the Run Command Box.
  2. After that, type msconfig and hit Enter.
msconfig

3. Lastly, click on the Startup tab inside MSConfig, and you can add or remove programs that would run during Windows startup.

In summary, Windows did a great job of making it easier for users to manage Windows 10 startup.

Compared to manually editing batch scripts, the graphical user interface is easier for non-techy users.

Remember that some programs in the startup list might be essential for Windows to run correctly. Others, such as iTunes, might not be essential for a startup. Changing these programs might positively or negatively affect the performance of your computer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I delete the startup folder?

Yes, you can, but we strongly suggest avoiding doing that. By deleting the Startup Folder, all apps and items in your startup will be gone. This includes important startup programs such as Windows Defender, leaving your computer vulnerable to viruses.

Where is my Windows startup folder?

In most cases, the Startup Folder is located at this path: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp. You can access the Startup Folder in 3 ways. First, you can manually click your way to the Startup Folder’s path, second, you can use the Windows search through File Explorer and lastly, you can access the Startup Folder through the Command Prompt.

Why is startup folder empty?

There may be several reasons why this issue occurs, but try to recall if you added any programs to the folder first. Although many people use Task Manager or Settings to set up startup apps, the startup folder is empty.

In addition, there are two startup folders. The other functions at the system level, whereas the first caters to individual users. You probably added the program to one but are now searching the other, and the Windows startup folder appears empty.

Is it okay to disable all startups?

It is generally safe to deactivate any startup program. When the software starts up on its own, it typically offers some service that is optimized for operation in a state in which it is constantly active, such as an antivirus application. Also, some hardware may not work without the program, such as proprietary software printers.

How do I know which programs need to run on startup?

As a rule of thumb, it’s recommended to leave programs from Microsoft, Intel, and Realtek as they are enabled by default. If you see programs from other publishers, you should check what those programs are for and determine if you really need them to startup automatically.

If you find that you don’t really need them starting automatically, then you can disable them. To set an example, programs such as Spotify and Skype aren’t really important for the whole system to run.

Shayne Sherman
Meet the author

Shayne is an expert on all things Microsoft Windows and computer security. As a Windows user of over 30 years, he has been featured on Business Insider, Yahoo, Tech Republic, Hacker Noon, Techopedia, and many other publications. Aside from entertaining at his home theater, he enjoys spending time with his family, including his English bulldog, Fergie.