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Cleaning out Startup Items

Page Goals
  • Disable some startup programs using the interface of the program
  • Disable other startup programs using Microsoft AntiSpyware and Startup Control Panel

Ever notice all those icons in the bottom right of the screen? That section of the taskbar is called the "System Tray" or "Notification area". Most programs that start up automatically drop their own icon in that area to tell you they are running. As was stated earlier, the more things that are running, the more ram that is taken up and the slower your computer will run. XP hides some of the system tray items that are inactive, so to see everything, you may have to click the blue circle with the white < in it.

Your thought process on disabling startup items or not should NOT be "do I ever need the program". It should instead be "Does it have to be running immediately when I start the computer". Antivirus/Antispyware obviously yes it has to be running. Realplayer or Quicktime? While yes you probably will use the program, the program does not need to start up when the computer does. It will start automatically when you need it.

Remember that you should NEVER stop Antivirus (Avast) or Anti-Spyware from starting up, they should always be running and set to start automatically when windows starts.

The first step to clearing out your startup items is to go through the items in the system tray. Most programs will allow you to right click on the system tray icon and go to a settings menu. Somewhere in the settings menu there should be the option to disable automatically running on startup.

Below are the procedures for disabling specific programs from starting up:

Program NameMethod for Disabling
AIMRight click on the yellow icon in the system tray and click "Preferences". Click "Sign On/Off" on the left, and unselect "Start AIM when windows starts".
Quicktime Right click the gray/blue Q icon in the system tray and click "Quicktime Preferences". If you are looking at a window that is wider than it is tall and has tabs, click the far right one and uncheck the bottom checkbox, something like "install Quicktime icon in system tray". If you are looking at a window that is taller than it is wide, with a drop down selection box at the top, select "Browser Plugin", and uncheck the bottom checkbox that mentions the icon in the system tray.
RealPlayerIf you have not already, you can remove Realplayer (Click here for information on doing so and why). Right Click the icon in the system tray and look for a settings option. If none exists, click open realplayer, then look for a settings or preferences option in the menu of real player (sometimes in edit). Somewhere in that it should have the option to disable "startcenter".
AOLRight click the blue AOL icon in the system tray and click Exit. It should ask you if you want it to start up next time the computer starts, tell it not to start up next time.

Once you have gone through the items in the system tray, there are two programs I suggest for cleaning up the remaining items. The first one is a side feature of the Microsoft Anti-Spyware you already installed (click here if you didn't install it yet.). The feature in Microsoft Anti-Spyware is great because it shows you information on the startup items, allowing you to make a more informed decision, unfortunately it doesn't show you everything.

The second program is called "Startup control panel" and is a program written by a programmer named Mike Lin. "Startup Control Panel" shows you everything, but in a more raw format, therefore its harder to understand what each item is.

Microsoft Anti-Spyware "Startup Programs" feature

To access this feature, double click the red AntiSpyware icon in the system tray (or click Microsoft AntiSpyware from the start menu->programs->Microsoft AntiSpyware). Once it starts, click the "advanced tools" button that has an icon of two gears. Next click "System Explorers", and under "Applications" click "Startup Programs".

You will see a list of the items that are set to start up automatically. Use the table below to figure out if you really need the item to start up when windows does. If you don't, select it click "Permanently remove startup item on the right.

Mike Lin's "Startup Control Panel"

To get the Startup Control Panel, Click here to go to Mike Lin's web site.

From his web site, click "Startup Control Panel" (Not StartupMonitor) on the left. Next scroll down to the link called "Standalone EXE Version". Click this link, then click "open". Once the zip file downloads, it should open and show you "startup.exe". Drag that icon to your desktop.

Run the "startup.exe" file from your desktop and the Startup Control Panel will open. Along the top are a number of tabs. For each tab, you should select it and see if there are any programs you can disable from starting up (disable by un checking it).

The below items can be safely disabled

Item NameDescription
Quick Time Task (qttask) Runs Quicktime in the background, unnecessary because QuickTime will launch when you need it anyway.
RealPlayer (TkBellExe) Runs Realplayer in the background, unnecessary because RealPlayer will launch when you need it anyway. If you have not already, you can remove Realplayer (Click here for information on doing so and why)
Adobe Runs Adobe Acrobat in the background, unnecessary because Adobe will launch when you need it anyway.
aim95 or MsnMsgr This is unnecessary unless you are on messenger 24/7. Delete it and you can run it from the start menu or desktop when you need it.
Dell/Dell Support The dell support applications are unnecessary. You can disable them from starting. If you need it in the future, you can run it from the start menu.

The below items should NOT be disabled

Item NameDescription
AvastAntivirus
gcasServMicrosoft Antispyware

For all other programs, use your best judgement. If you do not know if you should remove the programs, use the Contact Me link to send me a screen shot of what you see and I will let you know what you can remove.



Progress Tracker Update
(Click the checkbox and click next to update the progress checklist)
I cleaned out my startup items and used the contact mike form to ask about items I am unsure of

Next >> Start at the Beginning and go through all the steps!




Next >> Set your Virtual Memory






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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Although these instructions have been tested on thousands of computers without incident, and chances of any damage or loss of important data resulting from following these instructions are virtually zero, there always exists a very small chance that something could go wrong. I add the following warning not because I ever believe that anything will happen but because today's lawsuit happy world requires it:

Although I will attempt to assist you (via the contact me form) with issues that arise from following these instructions, you are using this website at your own risk, and I am not legally responsible for any damage or loss of data that may occur related to the use of this website.


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