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Managing Your Startup Items

TMO Quick Tip - Managing Your Startup Items

by , 1:30 PM EDT, July 30th, 2007

Every time you start up your Mac and log into your user account, there may be several applications that start up, too. Auto-launching applications when you log in can save you from having to manually launch programs, but some apps add their own items to that list -- and they don't always let you know that they have.

If your Login Items list has grown beyond what you want, you may find that it takes longer for your Mac to complete the startup and login process, and your computer may run slower than it should. Of course, Apple has given us a way to manage what launches when we log in, even if an installer added items without telling us. Here's how:

  • Launch System Preferences. You can find it by choosing Apple menu > System Preferences.
  • Select the Accounts Preference Pane.
  • Click the Login Items tab.

Hover your mouse over an item to see where it is stored.

Now you should see a list of the items that launch every time you login. If something looks cryptic and you aren't sure what it does, just hover your mouse over the item's name. Mac OS X will show you where on your hard drive the item lives, which usually offers a pretty good hint as to what those mystery items are for.

  • Once you find an item you want to remove from your Login Items list, click it once to select it.
  • Now click the minus button at the bottom left of the item list to remove it.

Click the minus button to remove login items.

Removing something from your login items doesn't delete it from your Mac. Instead, it leaves the original item intact, which is good because sometimes those login items are components inside an application, and removing them could leave you with programs that fail to launch correctly.

Keep in mind that some of the items in your Login Items list may be necessary for certain devices or applications to function correctly. If you want to double-check before removing something from the list, just do a quick Google search on the item's name. That usually finds a page that details exactly what the item does.


Jeff Gamet is TMO's Morning Editor and Reviews Editor. He lectures, teaches and speaks on Mac OS X and design-related topics, and is the author of The Designer's Guide to Mac OS X from Peachpit Press.

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