Mac Startup Programs

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Every time you switch on or restart your Mac, some programs start running automatically after the operating system loads. Over time, as the number of Mac startup programs increases, your system’s speed will start to slow down. If you want to learn how to easily stop applications from opening on Mac startup, this article is for you. We will explain the easy ways to change startup programs on Mac and even how to remove startup programs completely.


1. Types of startup programs on Mac
2. How to stop applications from opening on Mac startup
3. How to enable new startup programs on Mac
4. An easy Mac tool to change startup programs

Types of startup programs on Mac

Before we start, let’s figure out the types of items that run automatically when you start your Mac:

  1. Applications login items are small modules inside programs that enable the automatic auto-launch of the programs on user login. These modules can’t be deleted, you can only disable them. This can usually be done in the program’s Preferences.
  2. User login items are another type of module that helps to automatically run apps on Mac startup or user login. User login items can be changed in System Preferences of macOS. You can disable or enable any app to automatically run when you log in.
  3. Launch agents are special text files of programs that help to automatically run the external program’s processes on user login. Such processes work in the background and their files are usually saved in system hidden folders. Launch agents are the files that can be used by several applications, for example, different apps of Adobe Creative Cloud can use common launch agents.
  4. Launch daemons are another type of hidden files, that contain scripts to automatically manage system service processes. Launch agents are loaded on system startup and they run processes for all the users on Mac.

Having a lot of startup programs can significantly decrease your Mac performance. That’s why we recommend that you take control of them. Read on to learn how to stop apps and processes from running on Mac startup.

How to stop applications from opening on Mac startup

As we explained above, there are different types of startup programs on Mac and they are used for different programs’ tasks. In the macOS you can manually change only the user login items.

Applications login items, launch agents and system daemons in each application can be disabled in their own way. The apps may provide settings in Preferences to turn off such startup programs and they may hide such an option. In this case, you can disable them only via the Terminal app (command line) or with the help of a special tool- App Cleaner & Uninstaller. Read on to learn how to change different types of startup programs.

How to disable user login items:

  1. Go to System PreferencesUsers & Groups.
  2. Switch to the Login Items tab.
  3. Login items tab in User & Groups section of System preferences

  4. Click the Lock icon in the bottom left corner to change startup programs. It will require your password to allow changes.Login items tab showing how to disable startup programs
  5. Tick the box by the application name to enable or disable it from the automatic login items.

applies to : macOS

How to enable new user login items on Mac

While staying in the System Preferences → Login Items tab, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Plus button.
  2. Select the app and then click Add.

Login items tab - how to add startup programs

One more way to add Mac startup items is using the Dock panel. If your app has an icon in the Dock panel, simply right-click on it and from the pop-up window select OptionsOpen at Login.

Dock panel showing how to open app at Mac login
We explained how to manage login items of apps and stop them from auto-launch, but what about other types of startup programs? How to disable launch agents and launch daemons? Read on to learn how.

An easy tool to change startup programs

If you have problems with startup items and the apps run automatically despite not being checked in System Preferences, then try a free App Cleaner & Uninstaller software, which allows to manage files’ extensions, including launch agents and launch daemons. App Cleaner & Uninstaller finds all types of startup programs on Mac and allows you to easily disable or enable them. Follow this link to download the app for free.

  1. Run App Cleaner & Uninstaller.
  2. Go to the Startup Programs section.
  3. Select unneeded apps and switch their toggle buttons or click the Disable button.

App Cleaner & Uninstaller window - startup programs tab

With the application, you can even remove some startup items on Mac. For this, select unneeded launch agents and login items and click Remove.

    App Cleaner & Uninstaller window - removing login items

    Please, if you have decided to remove a login file, first make sure that you will not need it anymore. Removal of some extensions may damage your system.

    With App Cleaner & Uninstaller you can also remove service files, uninstall apps completely and manage extensions. With this app, It is so easy to stop programs from running at Mac startup.

    Quick Video Guide


    Now you know how to take control of startup and login items. Use the manual way or try a special tool App Cleaner & Uninstaller for this. It is up to you. Just stop them to make your Mac run faster.

    Podcast: How to disable Mac startup programs

    This article is based on our expertise of macOS, its file system, the work of third-party apps and startup programs. We’ve been working 10+ years in developing our own disk utilities for making a Mac work smoothly. We regularly explore the latest updates of macOS and update our apps and our articles according to system changes. If you have any questions related to this guide, contact us by email.