How To Change Startup Programs On A Mac

How To Change Startup Programs On A Mac

Is your Mac taking forever to start up? One possible reason could be the number of startup programs enabled on your computer. Having too many apps launching at login can significantly slow down your Mac’s boot time. But don’t worry, you can easily make changes and get rid of unnecessary startup programs. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of managing and modifying startup items on your Mac, helping you optimize your system’s performance.

To begin, let’s first explore how you can identify which apps open at startup on your Mac. Follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Apple menu icon located on the menu bar.
  1. Select “System Settings” from the dropdown menu. This will open the System Settings window.
  1. In the System Settings window, navigate to the “General” section.
login items
  1. Look for the “Login Items” option within the General section and click on it. (Please note that starting from macOS 13 Ventura, these options were moved to this screen.)

Upon reaching the Login Items section, you’ll notice two categories: “Open at Login” and “Allow in the Background.” Let’s briefly understand what each of these sections represents.

The “Open at Login” category includes apps that automatically launch when you sign in to your Mac. These apps may also open an application window upon launch.

On the other hand, the “Allow in the Background” category consists of helper apps that run services in the background upon login. Although these apps may not visibly launch a window, they still consume system resources and can potentially slow down your Mac’s startup time. Examples of background items may include program updaters and menu bar items such as Microsoft AutoUpdate for the Office suite or the Mac window manager Magnet. Some startup programs on your Mac might be challenging to identify, as they might be labeled only with the developer’s name and lack an app icon.

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If you’re using macOS 12 Mojave or an earlier version, you can find these options under System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items > Login Items. In this case, everything will be listed under the same section.

Now that you know how to identify the apps that open at startup let’s move on to managing and modifying the startup programs on your Mac:

  1. Click on the Apple menu icon once again.
  1. Select “System Settings” to open the System Settings window.
  1. Within the System Settings window, navigate to the “General” section.
  1. Locate and click on the “Login Items” option.

Once you’re in the Login Items section, you can take the following actions to manage your startup programs:

To remove an application from the “Open at Login” section:
  1. Click on the app that you want to remove.
  1. Below the list, you’ll find a minus (“-“) button. Click on it to remove the app from the startup items list.
Removing background items is even simpler:
  1. Locate the app label next to the toggle button.
background items
  1. Toggle the button off to disable the background program from opening at startup.

Please note that for certain changes, you may need to authenticate with a password or use Touch ID to modify the background programs and helpers that open on startup.

Now, let’s say you want to add a startup program manually. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Follow the steps above to reach the Login Items section in System Settings.
  1. Look for the “+” icon and click on it.
  1. Choose the application that you want your Mac to launch at login.
  1. After selecting the desired app, click “Open” to add it to the list of startup items.

When deciding which startup programs to disable on your Mac, it’s essential to consider your usage patterns and prioritize frequently used or mission critical apps. These are the applications that provide genuine utility and are essential for your workflow. For example, a clipboard manager or a helper application for your preferred note-taking solution might fall into this category. It’s beneficial to keep these apps enabled as they enhance your productivity and efficiency.

disable auto update

On the other hand, apps that you rarely use or don’t require at startup should be disabled. This includes auto-updaters for apps you seldom use, as these updaters will likely check for updates when you manually launch the respective applications. Similarly, game launchers like Steam can be disabled if you rarely play games on your Mac. Additionally, you can consider disabling helpers for applications that you only open occasionally.

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It’s important to trust your judgment and assess which apps fit into these two categories based on your personal needs and usage patterns. If you’re unsure about disabling certain startup programs, it’s always a good idea to make a note of the changes you’ve made. This way, if you experience any issues or decide to revert the changes, you can easily restore the previous settings.

Remember that you can always re-add “Open at Login” apps or toggle background apps back on from the same menu in System Settings.

While managing startup programs is an effective way to speed up your Mac’s boot time, there are other strategies you can employ to optimize your system’s performance:

  1. Keep your Mac’s operating system up to date: Regularly installing macOS updates ensures that your system is running the latest software improvements and security patches.
  1. Remove unnecessary login items: Aside from managing startup programs, you can also review the list of login items in your user account settings. To do this, go to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items. Remove any unnecessary apps from this list to further streamline your Mac’s startup process.
  1. Clean up your hard drive: A cluttered hard drive can slow down your Mac. Delete unnecessary files, empty the trash, and consider using utilities like Disk Utility to repair disk permissions and optimize your storage.
  1. Manage resource-intensive apps: Some applications consume significant system resources, even when not actively used. Keep an eye on apps that are particularly resource-intensive and consider closing them when not in use to free up system memory and processing power.
  1. Disable unnecessary system extensions: Some system extensions or third-party plugins can impact your Mac’s performance. Review the extensions installed on your Mac and disable any that you don’t need or that are known to cause issues.
  1. Use Activity Monitor: Activity Monitor is a built-in utility that provides detailed information about the processes and resources being used on your Mac. You can use it to identify apps or processes that are consuming excessive CPU or memory and take appropriate action, such as closing or uninstalling them.
  1. Optimize energy settings: Adjusting your Mac’s energy settings can help improve performance. Go to System Preferences > Energy Saver and customize the settings to balance performance and energy efficiency based on your needs.
  1. Clean up your desktop: Having a cluttered desktop with numerous files and icons can slow down your Mac. Organize your files into folders and remove unnecessary items from the desktop to help streamline your system’s performance.
  1. Resetting NVRAM and SMC: In some cases, resetting the non-volatile random-access memory (NVRAM) and system management controller (SMC) can resolve performance-related issues. Instructions for resetting these can be found on Apple’s support website.
  1. Upgrade hardware components: If your Mac is still sluggish despite optimization efforts, you may consider upgrading hardware components like RAM or switching to a solid-state drive (SSD). These upgrades can significantly boost performance and responsiveness.

By implementing these strategies, you can maximize the speed and efficiency of your Mac. Remember, it’s essential to regularly maintain your system by performing routine optimizations, keeping software up to date, and managing startup programs. With a streamlined startup process and a well-optimized system, you’ll enjoy a faster and more responsive Mac experience.