The Windows Startup folder was an important folder that could be easily found through the Start menu in previous versions of Windows. It started back in Windows 95, and any programs that were in the Startup folder were loaded and started every time the computer was turned on.
It used to be thought that whenever you boot your Windows computer, it would look for and execute a batch script named autoexec.bat. Anyone familiar with Power DOS can use a text editor to modify this script to add their favorite programs to boot along with the Windows operating system. This made it so that whatever you wanted to use was already downloaded after booting the computer.
The use of autoexec.bat continued throughout the Windows NT years, but Microsoft intended to divert users away from the scripted command line environment. Instead, he wanted to encourage the use of a GUI model with windows, files and folders, while making all subsequent versions of his operating systems not requiring autoexec.bat.
Over time, they would have reversed this entirely, however, the Windows 10 Startup folder can still be found today.
How to access the Windows 10 startup folder
Even before Windows 95, batch scripts and command line interfaces were needed to get your computer to do something. All the interactive icons you take for granted today did not exist. Instead, launching something like Microsoft Word required opening a command line interpreter and typing winword.exe.
Windows 95, while it still allowed users to perform almost all important tasks using the command line, doing so was easier through the graphical user interface. You can click on the Program Files folder and find the icons with the name of the program you want to run. All it took was a quick double click and the program would launch.
Windows 95 was the first step in changing the way you access programs. It is common today to click a program to launch it. It feels like it has always been this way. Almost no one uses commands to open programs anymore. Interestingly enough, however, with Windows 10 we did see a small resurgence in command line access using PowerShell.
Startup folder in the Start menu
The Start menu was first created in Windows 95 and is a bit like the Start menu found in Windows 10 today. It’s that little pop-up menu that appears when you click the Start or Windows icon in the lower-left corner of your desktop. On Windows 95, the Startup folder is located here.
When Windows 8 was launched, Microsoft decided to remove the Start menu. Even though all the functionality was still present in the operating system, it was much more difficult to find everything. Microsoft wanted users to take a different route by scheduling programs to run automatically.
Much to Microsoft’s dismay, the response from the user community was so great that the Start menu was quietly returned to Windows 10.
The Windows 10 Startup folder is similar to the one in Windows 7. However, it is no longer accessible in the same way. The Windows 10 Startup folder no longer appears in the Start menu as it used to. The functions remain the same, although some working details have changed. Now, accessing the Windows 10 startup folder requires a bit of navigation.
Two folders to start Windows 10
As for the Windows 10 startup folder, it can be found in two different places. One Windows 10 Startup folder runs at the system level and is common to all user accounts (the All Users folder), and the other at the user level is unique to that account (the current user folder).
The second option is only really important if you have multiple accounts on your Windows 10 computer. Each account will contain a unique startup folder in addition to the universal startup folder.
When it comes to troubleshooting, it’s important to understand the difference between the startup folders of all users and the current user. To understand why a particular app won’t open, or when working with apps that have user-based licensing or access restrictions, you’ll need to know which startup folder to configure.
There is one area that allows you to interact with the launcher function, which contains all the programs found inside the folder. The only difference is that programs cannot be added or removed. You can only enable or disable those that are currently in the startup folder. This place is the Windows Task Manager.
Accessing Windows 10 Startup folder
There are several ways to access the Windows 10 Startup folder. To access the Windows 10 Startup folder, the first option is through File Explorer.
You will need to enable the “Show hidden files” option to see certain folders in the path. Open File Explorer and enter one of the following paths into the Quick Access Toolbar.
- The startup folder for all users is located in the following path:
- C: ProgramData Microsoft Windows Start Menu Programs StartUp
- The current user’s startup folder is located here:
- C: Users [Username] AppData Roaming Microsoft Windows Start Menu Programs Startup
From these locations, you can add or remove programs that you want to run when your Windows 10 computer boots.
An alternative way to do this is to navigate directly to each folder using the Run command.
Open the Run dialog box by pressing Windows + R at the same time.
- The All Users Startup folder requires the following path:
- Shell: Shared Startup
- The current user’s startup folder requires:
- Shell: Startup
You will be taken directly to the folder containing the launchers associated with the specified folder.
Enable and disable startup programs
If all you have to do is enable or disable certain programs in the Windows 10 startup folder, you can access this feature through the Windows Task Manager or the Settings window.
To access startup using the task manager:
- Right-click the taskbar and choose Task Manager from the pop-up menu.
- In the Task Manager window, go to the Startup tab to see the programs.
- Right-click the program. In the pop-up window, select either enable or disable.
- The program will now adhere to the status set at the next boot.
To access startup using Windows settings:
- Open the Start menu by clicking the Windows icon in the lower left corner of your desktop.
- From the menu, select Settings (gear icon).
- Select Applications.
- From the left menu, select Launch.
- On the main menu, click the switches for the programs you want to enable or disable to the On position. or “Off”.
Run command for Windows 10 startup folder
Any item placed in any of the startup folders will not start immediately upon login, as it did in the days of Windows 95. Instead, Windows 10 launches programs in a very specific order, starting with the required system processes and any items in the startup task manager tab. The programs that you added to your startup folders will appear later.
It usually doesn’t take long, but if you have a lot of native and third-party apps and services already configured to start at boot, it may take a few minutes depending on your computer’s processing speed.
Too many programs in the Windows 10 Startup folder can risk prolonged downtime, slowing your computer down to unacceptable speeds when you try to run each program. We recommend that you place only the programs you need in these folders and keep the total to a minimum.