How to Manage Startup Applications in Windows 8

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While Windows 8 is in many ways optimized for performance compared to previous editions of the operating system, you may still find your system running slowly, especially when starting up. In this post, we’ll quickly show you how to identify and disable bulky background applications that automatically run when you start your machine.

This tip is taken from our beginners Windows 8 Tutorial Video course, authored by certified IT trainer Erin Olson. The 9-hour Windows training series covers a wide range of basic functionality as well as advanced configurations and performance tweaks. It can be ordered as a download or DVD for $99.95 or accessed instantly through our online Learning Library.

Using the Task Manager

As in previous editions of Windows, the Task Manager allows you to see which programs are running on your computer at a given time and see the resources each one is using. Windows 8 has made the Task Manager a little more helpful for everyday users. To access the Task Manager, press Windows+X on your keyboard to bring up command context menu, and select Task Manager from the options available.

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Once your Task Manager is open, go to the middle tab titled Startup to bring up a list of programs that automatically launch when you turn on your machine. If you do not see this list, click ‘More details’ in the bottom left of the Task Manager window (highlighted in yellow below).

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Now you can not only see the programs that automatically launch, but also a priority ranking of the resources they use when active, under the ‘Startup Impact’ column, to the right of the program’s Status.

Making Choices

If you’re looking to speed up your startup time and overall computer speed, the first place to look is at applications that have a Startup Impact of ‘High’. However, if this is a program you use on a constant basis, or one that actually needs to be running in the background, you’ll have to keep it activated. If it’s one that you only want to start when you choose it from your Programs menu (music services and messaging clients are common culprits), go ahead and select the item in the list by clicking on it once, and then click the Disable button in the bottom right of the Task Manager window.

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Generally, you do not want to disable programs that are tied to hardware, such as keyboards, mice, or printers, as it might affect functionality. By disabling unnecessary Startup applications, however, you should notice a significant speed increase, especially with boot times on your machine.

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