Stop Auto Reopen of Programs after Restart in Windows 10

One of the many small changes in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is that the operating system can now automatically reopen programs that were running before shutdown or restart. If you shut down Windows 10 with some apps open, some of them are relaunched at next startup, which is undesirable; to put it fairly, it can be annoying for many. How to disable this feature?

Jason, a Support Engineer at Microsoft, posted the following info in the Microsoft community forum.

This is actually a change in the core functionality of Windows in this development cycle.

Old behavior:

  • When you shut down your PC, all apps are closed
  • After reboot/restart, you have to re-open any app you’d like to use

New behavior:

  • When shutting down your PC, any open apps are “bookmarked” (for lack of a better word)
  • After reboot/restart, these apps will re-open automatically

If you want to start with no apps open (other than those set to auto-start via Task Manager/Start), you’ll need to ensure all apps are closed before shutting down or restarting the PC.

Why?

The desire is to create a seamless experience wherein, if you have to reboot a PC, you can pick back up quickly from where you left off and resume being productive.  This has far-ranging impacts across the OS (in a good way).

Note: There is no further information about this new feature. Not all apps are relaunched after a reboot. When I tested, Task Manager and Internet Explorer were always reopened automatically, but Microsoft Edge and Notepad weren’t. Likewise there may be other “eligible” apps that we don’t know. Disabling Fast Startup feature does not change this behavior.

The option “Use my sign in info to automatically finish setting up my device after an update” in Settings > Sign-in options is unconnected with this feature. Also, the Restore previous folder windows at logon” setting in Folder Options has nothing to do with this. And lastly, the startup folders or the Run registry keys aren’t used to relaunch programs after reboot.

Stop Auto Reopen of Programs after Restart

Though there is no way to turn the feature off in the user interface, there is a way to prevent Windows 10 from restoring previously opened programs after a restart.

Microsoft suggests exiting programs manually before shutdown, so that they won’t be be relaunched after reboot. That’s the best practice. However, if you don’t want to (or can’t always) do that before shutting down the system, here are the other options you have:

Option 1: Use the Classic Shut Down Dialog to Shutdown or Restart

  1. Minimize all programs by pressing WinKey + M.
  2. Click on the Desktop to set the focus on it.
  3. Press Alt + F4 to display the classic “Shut Down Windows” dialog
  4. Select shut down or restart option from the drop-down menu.
classic shutdown dialog windows
Classic Shut Down Dialog (Alt + F4) in Windows

Option 2(a): Use Shutdown.exe to Shutdown or Restart

Use the Shutdown.exe command-line to shutdown or restart Windows.

Create a desktop shortcut with the following command-line:

shutdown.exe /s /t 0

The above shortcut is to shutdown the system immediately, after 0 second timeout.

To restart the system, create another shortcut with the following command-line:

shutdown.exe /r /t 0
shutdown restart desktop shortcuts
Shutdown and Restart –
Desktop shortcuts

Related article: Put Windows Into Sleep or Hibernate Mode Using Command-line » Winhelponline

Option 2(b): Shutdown with Fast Startup

Fast Startup won’t work when you use the above two shutdown.exe shortcuts. But if you want Fast Startup to still work, use the following command-line for shutdown:

shutdown.exe /s /hybrid /t 0

That’s it! Hope Microsoft adds an option to disable this “automatic reopen of apps” feature in a future update or feature upgrade.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

25 thoughts on “Stop Auto Reopen of Programs after Restart in Windows 10

  1. “you’ll need to ensure all apps are closed before shutting down or restarting the PC.”

    False. Chrome, discord both restart with window. All the options to “auto start” are disabled in both apps, and they do not appear in my task manager.

  2. microshit heard us man,or atleast give us option to disable this crap u called feature.when i turn my pc,i want my pc fresh from all apps,not to see the junk i left off.

  3. Is there a way to have it automatically do this? I do NOT appreciate something like this happening without my permission.
    I HATE this “option”. When my pc is shutdown, I want my stuff, shutdown!

  4. I constantly have Outlook launching itself an Chrome – with all previously opened tabs – only this happens even though I shut these programs down before shutting down the computer. I can’t stop it.

    – Close all programs
    – Shut down computer
    – Next day, start up computer
    – Outlook launches and Chrome launches with all of yesterday’s tabs

    It’s really annoying. Anybody have the same problem? It seems limited to Outlook and Chrome for me.

  5. Yes. This is exactly how I would do it. Force people do what they do not want. Next version of Microsoft logo will be more simmilar to my logo.

  6. …not to say that when MS Word restarts this way, it opens multiple windows. I have to say that it does not always restart, sometimes yes, sometimes no. I think that it restarts when it does not close down completely and an istance of the software still survives in the background.

  7. The arrogance. The sheer arrogance of Microsoft these days is almost beyond belief. They now FORCE features that THEY think are useful and then back off only when lots of people scream loud enough. That is NOT the way to design software. They willfully and deliberately implemented this function without an off switch, smugly thinking that they know exactly what we want. Obviously the “telemetry” they have been gathering isn’t all that useful because they seem to get most of the new ‘features’ in Windows 10 dead wrong. This rapid development model that the whole software industry is using is horrible. Wouldn’t you rather have a stable operating system that works versus an “agile” operating system that has 20 new features that sort of work, and 20 existing features which used to work but now may be broken by all the changes that were made that they cannot be bothered to re-test?

  8. Microsoft and Google are my top culprits for making changes that take away options and mislabel them “up”grades. I don’t want this feature. If completely shutting down a computer isn’t a valid way to shut down the applications running on it, I’m baffled.

  9. I could be wrong, but I believe that this command for “fast startup” (hybrid) restart is incorrect as shown above: shutdown.exe /r /hybrid /t 0 .

    The problem, I believe, is that fast startup doesn’t apply or work for restart (on the power options screen, it appears to state this point) — which makes sense since saving the system status and then re-applying it probably takes more time in total than simply re-starting the system from scratch. “Fast startup” saves time when starting the computer because more time was invested in saving the system status on shutdown — and the payoff in speed is realized on startup.

  10. Thanks for the info Ramesh.

    Personally I strongly prefer when web articles include a publication date. It makes it easier for me later to be able to judge it’s relevance to future problems.

    Also, it would make your title more hit worth if you added FCU or Fall Creators Update to it.

  11. This was a short-sighted idea. I have a VPN that takes time to reconnect, I don’t want all my network-facing apps to start sending data over an unencrypted connection. They should have an option in the UI somewhere to turn this off.

  12. Did they ever think that maybee you dont want your web browser to open right where you left it when you shutdown in ahem.. in a hurry??

  13. This is really annoying, Outlook also opens up on startup, together with opening e-mails that have been deleted. I am glad that I found this article as I thought that I was going mad!

  14. Microsoft has made some very poor choices lately. If there was a viable alternative to their OS, most of us would leave. As the PC OS makes less and less money, we become a product, not a customer and as such, our opinion no longer matters. They will continue to force us to accept these ‘improvements’. I have never paid for a Microsoft product but by merely using them I promote the Evil Empire. I feel ashamed as you should too. We should all turn to Linux and never use another Microsoft product on a machine. That’s the only answer to the problem. Leave…

  15. Thank you very much!! I had to format because of various issues, and after a clean install I thought I was having problems again…so frustrating…

  16. I HATE THIS. Even if it worked correctly it would be frustrating, but now it reopens Word and Excel even though they were not open on shutdown.

    Why did they think this was a good idea?

  17. Microsoft have really ticked me off with this. I set programs to not start with the system for a ******* reason. Man this has infuriated me.

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