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How to 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, Windows 10, and Windows 11, which features a new “Startup” tab that lists all auto-start entries in the system.

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.

Here is an example where the OneDrive entry exists in the Startup tab even after uninstalling the OneDrive client.

When you right-click on it, the Open file location option would be grayed out if the executable doesn’t exist in the specified location.

This post tells you how to remove the leftover or invalid entries in the Task Manager Startup tab in Windows 8, Windows 10 & Windows 11. Also, see the note included at the end of the article for Store apps.

Remove invalid entries from Task Manager Startup tab

The invalid startup entries can be removed via the registry or using a specialized program like Autoruns.

Method 1: 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.

Important: Autoruns won’t display entries that are disabled in the Task Manager’s Startup tab because they are stored in a different registry location. If you want to delete a “Disabled” startup item, make sure you enable the item first in Task Manager. To do so, right-click on the startup item, and choose “Enable”.

  1. Download Autoruns from Microsoft.
  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.

    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.
  5. After you’ve cleaned up the dead startup entries, proceed to delete the invalid shortcuts in the Startup folders. Follow the instructions in “Step 2” (under Method 2) below.

Method 2: Using the Registry Editor

The auto-start programs listed in the Task Manager Startup tab can load 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: Clean up the “Run” keys in the registry

  1. Create a System Restore Point or take a complete registry backup first.
  2. Start the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and go to the following location:
  3. Each value in the right-pane is an auto-start entry added by programs. Right-click on an unwanted entry in the right pane, and choose Delete.
  4. Repeat the same in the Run key under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE root key (applies to all users) mentioned below.

    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:
  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:
  6. Additionally, cleanup the corresponding entries (for each item removed from the above locations) under the following keys.

    (Note: The disabled items in the Task Manager startup tab are stored in the StartupApproved registry locations.)

  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 the File Explorer address bar:
    %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

  2. Delete the unwanted shortcuts there.
  3. Open this folder by typing the path in the 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.

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!

What about startup entries of Store apps?

Note that the above methods are to remove only the classic desktop (win32) apps from Startup. The modern Universal Web Apps or Store app startup entries can’t be removed using the registry or Autoruns.

For classic desktop apps, you’ll either see the words Registry or Folder in the “Startup type” column, denoting whether the entry is originating from the Startup folder or from one of the Run keys in the registry.

The “Startup type” column is blank for UWP/Store apps.

For Store apps (e.g., ShareX, Skype, Cortana, Your Phone apps) the Startup Type column would be blank. That’s because, for UWP apps, the startup entries are coming from the manifest file included at the time of compilation. The only way to remove the Store app startup entry is to uninstall the software.

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