Stop Auto Reopen of Programs after Restart in Windows 10

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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.

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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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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…

  4. 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…

  5. 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!

  6. 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??

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  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. 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.

  11. This is a huge privacy issue for me. Sometimes i am booting up my laptop in front of a customer or a partner, sometimes even a competitor. There is no way i would like any of those persons even have a glimpse of my emails, document, skype for business or whatever i might have been working on. Sometimes i even boot it up connected to a projector with a big audience watching.

    Luckily i still have the Windows 7 DVD so reverting is easy.

  12. 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?

  13. …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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. “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.

  19. The Alt + F4 trick works fine for me, so I guess that I’ll just have to change my habits a little in order to get the desired behavior. Thank you for this very useful hint. This behavior might actually be a bug: they might have forgotten to update this little-used dialog. Let’s hope that they won’t “fix” it.

  20. Win 10 will FORCE updates onto your computer, and eventually FORCE it to reboot, and then SOME of your programs re-open automatically. I had this happen to me: I had my VPN running, and my P2P software running — which I would NEVER run without my VPN. So updates were FORCED, reboot was FORCED, and the P2P software started automatically, but the VPN did NOT — THANK YOU FOR ROYALLY SCREWING ME MICROSOFT!!!!!!!!

  21. I like to start work without first reading email and searching the web. As I understand it, this behavior is a common way to increase productivity. Microsoft appears to be completely out of touch on this one.

  22. My guess is that the idea is that now Microsoft can force updates to computers that are left idling and if the update requires a restart the computer will automatically restart and you will never know because everything will be restored where you left it.

    This is not a feature for users (you could already do that by sleeping your computer), this has more to do with Microsoft pushing update without you even noticing. To me this suck, to some other people I guess its nice. No matter what, I should have an option to disable this behavior.

  23. This new methodology now leaves VPN/Remote Desktop connections in a “suspended” state – not terminated – when I shutdown my laptop or PC. That rapidly consumes ALL the connections in the pool; and renders the system inaccessible. Worse, at reboot, it attempts to re-log-in to a session that is (probably) hung – even showing your old VPN session as “connected” when you could now be on a completely different network.

    Obviously, Microsoft failed to think this through. Or, perhaps they are abandoning the Business World to chase the cell-phone market.

  24. just amazing.. these little changes are really starting to take a toll.. and the fact they added a “fast startup” setting under power settings that IS GREAYED OUT.. i want my PC to start up with the shit windows needs and ONLY windows needs.. i can open a dam program myself.. stop allowing programs to start up with windows.. and for the love of god stop forcing DRIVER UPDATES through windows that you CANT disable.. one thing we know for sure is every driver update, windows has ever released was Never a problem………
    also love the fact they removed F8 to get to safe mode.. i don’t know who”s bright idea was that at Microsoft but they need to be fired.. the best troubleshooting step is now a gigantic pain in the ass top get too

  25. Yet another stupid, ill-thought-through “Improvement” from Microsoft. If you set applications to run at start-up you get two instances of them. How very clever!

  26. Another idiot behavior of this “feature” is that if you restarted because an app was causing a system issue, that gets recreated when you restart the system.

    I had a mouse driver issue this week that a restart would have fixed. Instead, the new restart recreated the problem each time. I finally fixed it, but it was a major troubleshooting project instead of just a single restart.

    This app reopen “feature” has also happened to me after a physical power-down, which is ultra-stupid.

  27. Thanks for the explanation. This re-launch of apps at computer start-up is particularly annoying concerning MS Explorer. I’m fastidious about closing ALL my programs before walking away from our shared computer, but Explorer ostensibly closes when, in reality, behind-the-scenes background processes are still underway. So now I see that I must take the additional step (and time.) of opening Task Manager and making certain to end the process(es) there. How inelegant a design! I maintain my parents’ laptop and I have them solely use Firefox for many good reasons (+1 more per this discussion thread). I use Explorer to keep my forensic crime research separate from my folks’ computing. It’s no fun having serial killer investigation forums pop back up when my elderly mum happens to re-start the computer! ;-(

  28. Microsoft made this more like working on the MAC computers, for higher productivity. There was an almost immediate repair januari 2018 that blocked the gathering of user information on startup. The path to this setting is below, in the next to last paragraph. One must understand that applicable windows are not being reopened anymore on updates where Windows reboots either, ones this is set. The information is from Microsoft Forums.

    Updated (2/20/18)

    There is a change with the Fall Creator’s Update where applications that have registered via RegisterApplicationRestart will re-open after a shutdown or reboot.

    What changed? The advanced Windows Update feature which restores running applications after an update has been extended to regular shutdowns and restarts initiated through power options available on the Start Menu and various other locations. This is to create a seamless experience wherein, if you have to reboot your PC, you can pick back up from where you left off and resume being productive.

    We’ve heard the feedback that some of you would like to have a switch for turning on and off this feature, and have now added the ability to do this.

    Once you have installed the January 31st update (KB4058258 (OS Build 16299.214)), you will be able to turn off this feature by going to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options > Scroll down to Privacy > Toggle off Use my sign-in info to automatically finish setting up my device after an update or restart.

    Note: The feature is not available on PCs that are managed by enterprises nor on home PCs that are sync’d to enterprise (work, school, etc.) email.

  29. This is idiotic, if I wanted the PC to “sleep” and come back with the same apps running, I’d choose “sleep”. The whole point of the separate “Shutdown” command is so you can start fresh with no apps running. MS needs to stop actively interfering with the user’s choices. No one wanted or asked for this feature .

    ALso:

    >>Minimize all programs by pressing WinKey + M.
    >>Click on the Desktop to set the focus on it.

    It’s unnecessary to do two steps, Windows Key + D does that in one.

  30. This operating system is ridiculous.
    I have been using Microsoft OS’s since the days of MsDOS 3.0…and every single version of Microsoft Windows since…
    …and this level of stupidity is eye watering.

    How can such a feature not be made optional?
    How can a corrupted user profile require a full Windows 10 reinstall (Microsofts own words)?
    I cannot submit feedback about my inability to login to my Microsoft account because I cannot login to my Microsoft account (Yeah, I’m confused).
    Who designed this OS?
    Who built this OS?
    Its the worst OS Microsoft have produced.
    Qualified in B.Tech (IT) in 1999…Running Microsoft, Apple and Linux platforms on all tech.

  31. It’s worse that that. It will start apps I was NOT even using. Like EDGE. What I peace of trash. There own web browser will not even work on many of there own web sites. Yet they push edge like its the best thing since sliced bred.

  32. Well, I have no idea what I did. Upgraded to 1709 and had the apps open on me. And than one day poof. Not anymore. I usually close my apps before closing so I did not notice till some other user mentioned it. I have now spent two days trying to figure out what happened or what I did to no avail but my apps do not start automatically when left opened on shutdown anymore. Completely confused

  33. Pin this to your start for a ‘semi-elegant’ solution

    “byebyewindows.bat”
    content:

    @echo off
    title Shutdown without sillyness
    echo Circumventing Microsoft’s ridiculous bookmark apps ‘feature’.
    echo Windows will shutdown in 15 seconds.
    timeout -t 15 -nobreak && shutdown -s -t 00

  34. god i completely fucknig hate this feature. For a very small while it seemed like Microsoft wanted to offer their (not so captive these days….) audience choice, flexibility, and an actually useful operating system. But true to form, gun + foot = normal.

  35. This is really nice MICROSOFT!
    But seriously, how many times it was like this: if a PC starts to lag what do you do? You restart! And bingo, it runs as new, and now even after restart every (well not every…) program is reopened on its own…
    If I would want to make a hibernate – I would do it, would no one agree with me on this?
    Please, Microsoft, make an option to disable this nonsense.

    Sorry for my anger, but it is as if Microsoft themselves would want to repel people from using their OS.

  36. This feature is absolutely stupid when you cannot disable it. I can be extremely dangerous. the other day I scanned a very confidential document and saved it before shutting down. The next morning someone else started the computer and left is on. My confidential document was open for all to see the whole day. Can Microsoft be more stupid than this? On another day, my email account was all open without a password, in similar circumstances for all to look at or access all day. Please get rid of this auto reopen feature.

  37. Harry Smith
    It’s worse that that. It will start apps I was NOT even using. Like EDGE. What I peace of trash. There own web browser will not even work on many of there own web sites. Yet they push edge like its the best thing since sliced bred.

    UUUUUGGGGHHHHHHHH MY EYES

  38. PC Settings >> Accounts >> Sign-in Options >> {Turn Off} Use my sign-in info to automatically finish setting up my device after an update or restart.

  39. I used to use Windows and shifted to Mac OS and it felt like all my troubles dropped and extremely awesome user experience. I was surprised why I never bothered to go for Mac before?
    Now because of some Apps I want that are only available on Windows I have temporarily shifted to windows and oh my dear god things haven’t changed a bit.
    Its not just one thing bit almost everything that Apple does vs. what Microsoft does it. One tries to give user experience of most expensive car you may have and other ends up giving user experience of cheapest car you may have.
    Anyway, MAC always had this feature of RESTARTING WITH EXACTLY WHERE IT LEFT. Off course when you are shutting down or restarting pop-up will ask you if you would like to reopen apps or not. So simple. Those who want can tick it ON or OFF.
    I loved that feature so much when I moved to MAC. Because off course you are in middle of things all the time and when you want or windows wants to restart your laptop YOU JUST WISH that the b***d doesn’t close all that I have open. And at times you may have more than 20 things open in many apps. Oh boy, windows just never bothers to restart where I left. Which means now you rely on your memory and open things one by one. Sometimes you just need to be lucky. Its extremely painful.
    Now guess what, finally windows decided to add that feature (again shitty way by not having that option at restart) and the whole community instead of asking the SWITCH at restart/shutdown started forcing Microsoft to DISABLE the feature. And poor Microsoft disabled it. Oh God. Bring all Windows Apps to MAC and make them better and world will be a better place. People will get more educated and wiser.

  40. First of all, I HATE THIS FEATURE !

    Secondly, here’s the story…
    The geniuses at MS thought it would be a good thing to force updates on us in the hope to force us more in the cloud. I did not complain too much because I was still heavily dependent on MS.
    Last night, my wife who had been working so hard is sound asleep when suddenly I get up to realize it’s FUCKING MS that installed updates, and decided to reopen a browser window with netflix playing.

    MS, it’s been a rocky ride anyway, I am off to UNIX. Mac, and even UBuntu 18.04 I hear is a better option. Go F yourselves

  41. Microsoft ticked me off a long time ago. Hate there whole system. Did not think they could do anything to make a larger mess, I was wrong. I have to find away to get Microsoft out of my life. You never need help to make life miserable usually we can do that by ourselves so Microsoft get off everyone back do your job and stop trying to control us. You have become the worse program ever. I’m from the Seattle area the great place of Microsoft if they continue like this they can shut the system down. I agree Mac and Apple are much better programs just wish I could afford them. If Microsoft continues with this garbage of control a way will be found for me to reach a better system.

  42. Pretty simple people, just go to your settings, accounts, sign-in options, scroll all the way to the bottom and there you will find a slider tab that says
    “Use my sign-in info to automatically finish setting up my device and “REOPEN” my apps after an update OR restart.”
    Just slide this off and your good to go. 🙂

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