How to Add, Remove, and Delay Startup Items on Your Mac

By | January 9, 2022

Every time you turn on your Mac, various apps and services launch automatically in the background. These macOS startup apps, often referred to as login items, can be very useful.

But having too many of them can increase your device’s boot time and decrease its performance. That’s why it’s necessary to manage startup applications on your Mac. Let’s explore how to do that below.

How to Add Startup Apps on Your Mac

If you deal with certain apps on a daily basis, setting those apps to launch automatically can help you save time. Here’s how to do it:

  • open System Preferences and click on Users & Groups.
  • Click on tab Login Items in the right pane.
  • Click button + (Plus) under this pane, and in the Finder dialog box that appears, select the application that you want to start automatically when you sign in.
  • Repeat the steps above to add more apps as needed.

In some cases, you may want to ensure that the application window remains hidden when the application is launched meaning that it does not appear in the foreground immediately. To make it happen, click the checkbox Hide next to the app in the list Login Items.

Notes: A quick look at the left side panel reveals that you edit the startup items for the current user account by default. If you have admin rights, you can control startup items for different users by clicking on the relevant username in the list. If the settings are grayed out, you’ll need to enter your admin credentials first by clicking on the lock icon at the bottom of the settings panel.

How to Temporarily Disable Startup Apps on Your Mac

It is possible to prevent startup applications on your Mac from running automatically on a temporary per-login basis. This can be especially helpful when you need to quickly log in, say, when you’re troubleshooting your Mac to fix startup issues.

To disable app launch when you’re logged in, once you’ve entered your credentials on the login screen, hold down the button Shift before you click the login button (arrow facing right). Release the lock when the Dock appears. macOS will now start without launching any startup programs.

If you don’t see the login screen, restart your Mac and hold down the button Shift when you see the progress bar.

How to Remove Startup Apps on Your Mac

If your Mac boots slowly, this is an indicator that will allow you to optimize your Mac’s startup programs. This is easy to do. Here’s how:

  • Visit System Preferences > Users & Groups.
  • Switch to tab Login Items to reveal a list of items that are set to launch automatically when your Mac starts. (Apps that are set to open at startup before you uninstall them have a yellow warning icon displayed next to the checkbox Hide.)
  • To remove an app from this list, select the app and click the button – (Minus) below the list.

When installed, certain apps prepare to launch on login without your explicit permission. That’s why it’s necessary to review startup apps regularly for optimize your Mac’s performance.

How to Delay Mac Startup Application Launch

Does your Mac have some much-needed startup items, even after you’ve cleaned them all up? You can disable it, but it would be tiresome to manually launch each app. Here’s a better solution: Delayed Start.

This simple macOS utility lets you time your launch items to reduce the load on your Mac. To use Delay Start:

  • Remove existing launch item from System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items. To do so, select all the apps in the list and click the button – (Minus).
  • Click button + (Plus) and add app Delayed Start to the list.
  • Now run Delayed Start. In the app, click the button + (Plus) to add apps that you want to open automatically at login.
  • Enter the time (in seconds) in the box Time Setting. macOS will delay the launch of the application at the time specified above.

Repeat the last two steps to configure the delay time for as many apps as you want.

How to Detect Malicious Startup Items on Your Mac

Contrary to popular belief, Macs can also be infected with malware. In order to deal with the threat, it’s best to install KnockKnock. This is a free Mac app that gives you an overview of all the startup items on your Mac and also scans those items for potential malware using VirusTotal.

To see KnockKnock in action, launch the app and click the button Start Scan at the top. The scan will complete in a minute or two, after which the results appear on the screen.

The scan results are categorized into various sections. For example, category Launch Items displays all the apps that start automatically with your Mac. Kernel Extensions shows installed modules that might load the kernel, and so on.

Once you select a category, you will see its information from VirusTotal on the right side. If you find that the launch item is infected, you can click the button Show on the far right to find the file in the Finder and delete it.

KnockKnock can also help you determine whether a particular launch item belongs to Apple or comes from a third-party software vendor. A green padlock next to an item indicates an item signed by Apple, while a closed black padlock indicates an item signed by a third party. Unmarked items appear with an open orange padlock.

An open lock doesn’t have to mean that the item is dangerous, but you should still be aware of it.

Take Complete Control Of Your Mac’s Startup Programs

Use KnockKnock to detect any malicious startup items your Mac may have. Immediately remove all infected applications. Then, you can set useful apps to autorun and remove those pesky programs that are added automatically. Better yet, you can delay app launches to reduce the strain on your Mac’s resources.

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