Managing startup entries was possible using the System Configuration Utility (msconfig.exe), in Windows 7 and earlier. This functionality is now provided by the Task Manager in Windows 8 and Windows 10.
You can either enable or disable items listed in the Task Manager Startup tab, but no option is provided to delete the obsolete entries. Over time, old entries may accumulate in the Startup tab as and when you uninstall programs that you no longer use.
This post tells you how to remove the leftover entries in the Task Manager Startup tab in Windows 8 & Windows 10.
Remove invalid entries in Task Manager Startup tab
Run keys in the registry
Start the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and go to the following location:
Each value in the right-pane is an auto-start entry added by programs. Export the key to a REG file first. Then right-click on an unwanted entry and choose Delete.
Repeat the same in the per-system Run key (applies to all users) mentioned below.
Hint: While you’re in the previous registry location, you can right-click on the “Run” key and choose “Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” option in the right-click menu, which automatically gets you to the following path:
32-bit programs on a 64-bit Windows computer use the following “WOW6432Node\…\Run” registry locations. You need to follow the same procedure here, as well:
Optionally, you may want to cleanup the corresponding entries (for each item removed from the above locations) under the following keys.
Startup folders (per-user & common startup)
Open this folder by typing the path in File Explorer address bar:
Delete the unwanted shortcuts there.
Repeat the same in the per-user Startup folder (shell:startup) here.
That should get rid of dead entries in the Task Manager Startup tab.
Using Autoruns to remove invalid Startup entries
Using Task Manager you can manage startup entries only from the above auto-start launch points. However, there are many other launch points in obscure registry locations from where programs can run. And to manage most if not all of them, Autoruns is the tool you need. Autoruns, as they say, is like MSCONFIG on steroids.
Download Autoruns from Microsoft Windows SysInternals site.
Unzip and run the tool elevated (“Run as administrator”). Click the “Logon” tab and remove unwanted entries there. It’s important to make sure you don’t remove Microsoft entries there, especially the “Userinit” entry.
Tip: Autoruns allows you to hide Microsoft and Windows entries via the Options menu so that you don’t accidentally remove legit entries used by the Operating System.
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.