How to Stop Apps Opening on Startup on Your Mac

One of the things people want to know when it comes to a Mac is how to stop apps from opening on startup. Those startup programs are called login items. When the system gets bought new, only a few login items get configured. This scenario changes as you install new apps and programs. Most software you install sets up to boot automatically to ensure it is ready for use. The trouble is, the more programs you add, the more resources they take and the slower your computer boots up.

How to Stop Apps Opening on Startup on Your Mac

Plus, if you only want to use that program occasionally, why have it sitting there doing nothing and taking up resources?

How to Remove Startup Items from Your Mac

Checking to see what apps are automatically starting is a breeze. Once you know what programs boot with the system, you can remove select entries that you don’t want.

  1. Select the “Apple menu,” then “System Preferences.”
  2. Choose “Users & Groups.”
  3. Click on the “Login Items” tab in the top center.
  4. The list of enabled apps appears in the center pane.
  5. Optional: Add a checkmark to the “Hide” box next to any entry to run it in the background at startup.
  6. Highlight an app in the “Login Items” list.
  7. Select the “-” (minus symbol) underneath the center pane to remove the app from startup.
  8. Repeat “Step 7” for all non-essential apps.

Indeed, you will not want to disable all login items as some of them are essential. It is best to keep any third-party security apps, VPN apps, and frequently used apps in place. Those you only occasionally use or are happy to wait a few seconds to load, you can safely disable. Mac OS also keeps essential items hidden so you cannot accidentally delete or disable them.

Identifying Apps on Mac You Don’t Recognize in the Login List

To identify an app that you don’t recognize, do the following:

  1. Select the unknown application from the Login List.
  2. Highlighted the item using the two-finger tap, then choose “Show in Finder.” This action displays the app’s installed location and allows you to identify it.
  3. In “Finder,” use the two-finger tap on the item in question, then select “Quick Look.”
  4. You’ll see a popup showing the version, size, and last modified date.
  5. If you need more info on the file, choose “Get Info” instead.
  6. Now, you’ll see all the file attributes, such as the type of file, size, created date, last opened, and more.

Using Dock to Remove Login Items from Startup in Mac

You can also use the “Dock” if you know what is starting up automatically during login.

  1. Two-finger-click a “Dock” item and select “Options.”
  2. Click on “Open at Login” to uncheck it.

You can do the above steps for several “Dock” items if desired.

Item Disabled in Dock Still Loads at Login

If you disable an item in the “Dock” from starting up, but it still appears, you have your Mac set up to restore all open apps when booting up or restarting. To clear the resume functionality, complete the following steps:

  1. Click on the “Apple Menu,” then select “Restart” or “Shut Down…” from the list of options.
  2. Ensure that “Reopen windows when logging back in” is unchecked, then click on the “Restart” or “Shut Down” button to activate the process.

The resume option is easy to overlook when rebooting or shutting down your Mac, but it is a convenient feature when you need to restart or return later to continue your activities. However, that option gladly launches any open apps upon reboot, which you don’t want if one of them needs disabled at login.

Adding Apps to Startup on Mac

While there are likely to be a few apps you want to stop opening automatically, there may be others that you do want to start automatically. You get the option to set it as a Login Item on install, but there may be times when you change your mind.

For example, when you want to install a VPN program onto your Mac, you may forget to set it to start automatically, which kind of defeats the purpose. Here’s how to set an app to open automatically.

  1. Select the “Apple Menu” then “System Preferences.”
  2. Select “Users & Groups.”
  3. Click on the “Login Items” tab in the top center.
  4. Select the “+” icon under the center pane to add a “Login Items” (startup) entry.
  5. Select an app from the list that appears and then click on the “Add” button.

Now, when you reboot or turn on your Mac, the app automatically launches if you activated it in the “Login Items” screen, or it doesn’t launch at login if you unchecked it from the “Dock” or used the “-” in the “Login Items” screen. You also have apps with “Hide” activated that now run in the background instead of consuming your precious screen space. Hopefully, this speeds up your bootup process and makes things run faster. If nothing else, it removes the task of closing a bunch of unused programs or choosing options as the app pops up after logging in.

Newer Macs are pretty fast to boot and easy to manage. However, the more programs you install on your Mac; the more sluggish performance becomes. Keep an eye on what loads automatically and what does not to ensure you don’t have to wait when starting your machine.

4 thoughts on “How to Stop Apps Opening on Startup on Your Mac”

Jim says:
I notice some Mac apps, like Adobe’s Creative Cloud app, do not place anything in the System Pref’s Login Items list nor do they have a check by their Open at Login option in the Dock…but still the app launches at startup. In the case of Adobe CC app there is an app pref item to launch at login that is checked by default, so it can be unchecked. There has to be some place that Adobe CC app notifies the system to launch the app at startup when this option is checked, and that’s what I’m looking for since other apps must be using that too. Thanks in advance.
Jack says:
Thank you for the information, how do you permanently disable this feature: ‘Reopen windows when logging back in’
KM says:
Thank you very much
Dave says:
Danke schön

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