How to Access the Windows 10/11 Startup Folder
Even though the Windows Startup folder got put on the back burner quite some time ago, it is still available, hidden within the deep data structure of Windows 10. It doesn’t sound easy to find or get to, but it isn’t difficult.
Being able to find this folder can be very useful in certain situations, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with it. Here’s how to access the Windows 10 startup folder quickly and easily.
What is the Windows Startup Folder?
The Startup folder was a folder that you could find via the Start Menu. Users could manually drag application shortcuts to the Startup folder, and the apps automatically launched before or after the user logged in.
Before we get started, keep in mind that there are now two Startup folder locations in Windows 10, including the following:
- You have one Startup folder that operates at the system level and gets shared among all user accounts.
- You have another Startup folder that operates at the user level and is unique to each user on the system.
For example, consider a PC with two user accounts: one account for Jane and one account for John. A shortcut for Microsoft Edge appears in the All Users Startup folder, and a link for Notepad gets put in the Startup folder for Jane’s user account. When Jane logs into Windows, the Microsoft Edge and Notepad apps launch automatically, but only Edge starts when John logs into his account.
If you have Windows 10 or 11, the Start Menu gets launched from the Windows logo in the bottom left-hand corner. You tap the Windows key on your keyboard or click the Windows logo, and the Start Menu pops up. However, the Startup folder is nowhere to be found.
So, where are the Windows 10 Startup folders? Keep reading to find out, but first, you must understand how Windows 10/11 manages the startup process.
Windows 10/11 Startup Launch Order
It’s important to mention that the items you place in your “All Users” or “Current User” Startup folders won’t start immediately upon logging in to your Windows account. Furthermore, some links you place there may not launch, depending on user permissions.
Instead, Windows launches programs in a specific order:
Windows first loads its necessary system processes and startup entries in several places before it runs your Startup folder items.
- First, Windows loads its necessary “System” processes.
- Second, Windows loads “Settings” startup entries found in “Settings > Apps > Startup.” The apps found here natively support and usually have a setting for the start-at-boot or start-at-login option.
- Third, Windows loads items in the “Task Manager Startup” tab.
- Fourth, Windows loads items found in the “Current User Startup” and “All Users Startup” folders.
For most users, these initial steps won’t take long, and you’ll see your designated Startup folder apps launch within a second or two of reaching the Windows 10/11 desktop. If you already have many applications and services configured to launch at boot, your Startup folder items may take a few moments to appear.
Opening the Windows 10/11 Startup Folders using File Explorer
If you use File Explorer, you must enable the “Show Hidden Files” option to see specific folders in the path.
- Open “File Explorer,” click “View,“ and ensure the “Hidden items“ option gets checked.
- Now, navigate to the Startup folder you want to access.
Current Users Startup folder: “C:\Users\salmm\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup”
All Users Startup Folder: “C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup”
- Open “File Explorer,” click on the “View” tab, then check the box next to “Hidden items.”
- Right-click the “Address Bar,” then choose “Edit address.”
- Paste one of the following Powershell commandlets:
Current Users Startup folder: “shell:startup”
All Users Startup folder: “shell:common startup”
Opening the Windows 10/11 Startup Folder using Run
The Run utility opens the Windows 10 or 11 Startup Folder in File Explorer and saves you some time typing or clicking. Here’s how:
- To access the “All Users” Startup folder in Windows 10/11, open the “Run” dialog box (Windows Key + R), then type “
shell:common startup“ and click “OK.”
- For the “Current User” Startup folder, open the “Run” dialog, then type “
- File Explorer now opens the chosen Windows 10/11 Startup folder.
Opening the Windows 10/11 Startup List using Settings
Many Windows users do not know why the startup apps found in Windows 10/11 Settings are different than other startup locations or why it is missing some apps that load at startup. The answer is that the apps found in Settings have built-in startup options or natively support it even if they don’t present the choice. Therefore, looking there for an app you want to launch during startup is a good idea.
- Go to “Settings.”
- Select “Apps.”
- Choose “Startup” on the left side.
- Browse and manage the app(s) you want to turn on or off during startup.
If your computer startup is slow, it’s a good idea to check the startup folder(s) and other areas to ensure you do not have programs you don’t need to launch at boot. It’s best to keep the number to a minimum. Another startup location (not a startup folder) that launches apps during startup is the Task Manager. You could also check there for an app that loads at boot that you cannot find elsewhere.
To get more tips (including modifying the software that opens on boot), check out how to speed up your Windows 10 PC.