Remove invalid entries from Task Manager Startup tab

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, which features a new “Startup” tab which lists all auto-start entries in the system.

remove taskmgr startup entries

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 or invalid entries in the Task Manager Startup tab in Windows 8 & Windows 10.

Remove invalid entries from Task Manager Startup tab

Method 1: Remove invalid Task Manager Startup entries from the Registry Manually

The auto-start programs listed in the Task Manager Startup tab can be loading from the registry or from the Startup folders. Follow these steps to clean the invalid entries from the registry as well as from the two Startup folders manually.

Step 1: Cleanup the “Run” keys in the registry

  1. Start the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and go to the following location:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  2. Each value in the right-pane is an auto-start entry added by programs. Export the key to a REG file first.
  3. Right-click on an unwanted entry in the right pane, and choose Delete.
    remove taskmgr startup entries
  4. Repeat the same in the Run key under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE root 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:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  5. 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:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
    
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  6. Optionally, you may want to cleanup the corresponding entries (for each item removed from the above locations) under the following keys.
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\StartupApproved\Run
    
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\StartupApproved\Run

    remove taskmgr startup entries

  7. Exit the Registry Editor.

Step 2: Cleanup the items in the Startup folders (per-user & common startup)

  1. Open this folder by typing the path in File Explorer address bar:
    %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

    remove taskmgr startup entries

  2. Delete the unwanted shortcuts there.
  3. Open this folder by typing the path in File Explorer address bar. This opens the per-user Startup folder (shell:startup)
    %Appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
  4. Delete the unwanted shortcuts from the above folder.

Method 2: Remove invalid Startup entries in Task Manager using Autoruns

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.

  1. Download Autoruns from Microsoft Windows SysInternals site.
  2. Unzip and run the tool elevated (“Run as administrator”).
  3. Click the “Logon” tab
  4. Remove unwanted startup entries there. It’s important to make sure you don’t remove Microsoft entries there, especially the Userinit entry.
    remove taskmgr startup entries
    Tip: Autoruns allows you to hide Microsoft and Windows entries via the Options menu so that you don’t accidentally remove important auto-start programs needed by Windows.

That’s it! Hope you were able to get rid of dead or invalid entries in the Task Manager Startup tab using one of the above two methods!

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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.

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