Mac Performance

5 Ways to Change What Apps Start Up With Your Mac

Most of the time, Mac startup programs are useful and won’t cause any problems. But too many of them, and they can be a real drag on your system performance. For that reason, we highly recommend you to keep an eye on what’s loading up with macOS and remove any startup apps your Mac doesn’t need.


In this article you’ll learn 5 ways to change what apps start up with your Mac:


Before we start


If you’re removing login items because you think they’re slowing your Mac down, consider cleaning out junk files first. You can do it with just a few clicks in MacKeeper.  

  1. In MacKeeper, select Safe Cleanup
  2. Select what you want to clean up
  3. Click Clean junk files
  4. Choose to skip or empty the trash.

Cleaning your Mac is as simple as that with MacKeeper. Download it now, and try it out for yourself. You get one full fix for free, so you can see just how effective it is.  

How to change Mac startup programs in System Preferences

You can change some Mac startup programs in the part of the OS that manages user profiles. 


Here’s how:

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Go to Users & Groups
  3. Click on your account name in the left sidebar
  4. Choose the Login Items tab
  5. To remove an app, click it and press the minus button
  6. If you just don’t want to see the app when it starts, click the Hide box instead.
Macbook’s System Preferences window is opened, with the Users & Groups app selected in the second row of apps, and its icon highlighted
Step 1. System Preferences > Users & Groups
On the left panel of the Users & Groups window, you can see the list of users having access to these Apple devices—current and guest ones. Choose the current one to bring further changes
Step 2. Select the needed user
The Users & Groups window demonstrates the second tab to be chosen—Login Items
Step 3. Go to Login Items tab
The Login Items screen displays the two options for user management—plus and minus. Before bringing changes, you need to unlock this function by pressing on the lock, in the bottom left corner of the window
Step 4. Remove the login items by clicking the minus button
The Login Items tab selected in the Users & Groups window to show you the list of startup apps. In each line opposite the name of the app, you can find the option to hide it by ticking the box
Step 5. Click Hide button not to see app when it starts

You can also add apps using the plus button.

How to change Mac startup apps from the Dock

You disable or enable a Mac startup app with just a few clicks on its Dock icon:

  1. Look in the Dock for the program you want to change
  2. Right-click on it and hover over Options
  3. Select Open at Login.
The Dock is shown within the typical Mac’s home screen. You see the list of the most frequently used apps here. Choose the one you need, right-click, and click on Open at Login

If Open at Login is ticked, then that app will start with macOS. Repeat the process to toggle that status on and off. 

How to disable Mac startup apps in Finder

Disabling startup apps via System Preferences and the Dock only deals with Login Items. However, you’ll notice some of the apps that start with your Mac can’t be disabled this way. That’s because there are other Mac startup program types, like launch agents and daemons.


These processes are often linked to one of your installed apps, and when you uninstall that app, its startup items go with it.


You can remove some of these startup items from your Mac manually using Finder:

  1. Open a new Finder window
  2. Click Go in the top menu
  3. Press and hold the Option key. This will make Library appear
  4. Click Library
  5. Open the LaunchAgents folder
  6. Delete any startup items you don’t want.
The Finder’s menu displays the Go tab selected. In its drop-down menu, select the Library option
Step 1. Go to Library
Through the Finder’s Library, pave your way to the LaunchAgents folder. Select it by right-clicking and delete the item you want to remove
Step 2. LaunchAgents folder

Under System > Library, you can also find LaunchDaemons, LaunchAgents and StartupItems folders, but we don’t recommend making changes to these. This Library folder affects the whole of macOS, rather than just your profile, so deleting the wrong thing can cause major problems.

Changing Mac startup items within apps

Occasionally, you’ll have to dig into individual app settings to stop a program starting up with macOS. The process for doing this varies from app to app, but generally it goes something like this:

  1. Open the app you want to disable at startup
  2. From the top menu, click the app’s name
  3. Click Preferences
  4. Look for any options related to starting up when you log into your Mac, and disable them.

As an example, in Spotify, in the advanced settings, there’s an option that says Open Spotify automatically after you log into the computer. It offers three choices: Minimized, Yes and No.

Sportify’s advanced settings window shows the option to Open Spotify automatically after you log into the computer. So, it’s one of the ways to change the startup items within the app itself

Hint from our experts:


If that sounds kind of difficult, download MacKeeper and easily manage all your login items with a few clicks.

How to delete startup item with MacKeeper

As well as providing antivirus, memory cleaning and other features, MacKeeper can find and remove Mac startup items. It doesn’t just repeat what you’ll find in System Preferences, though. MacKeeper will also find things like launch agents and daemons, so it’s thorough, as well as being easy to use.


To delete startup items using MacKeeper, do the following:

  1. Launch MacKeeper
  2. Go to Login Items using the left-hand menu
  3. If you haven’t done a scan in a while, click Rescan all
  4. When the scan is finished, click the tickboxes next to any startup items you want to delete
  5. Click Remove selected items.
MacKeeper’s Login Items window demonstrates the list of startup items found on your Apple computer. Manage them by ticking the necessary boxes and removing the redundant ones
Step 1. Open Login Items in MacKeeper
MacKeeper’s Login Items functionality also gives you a quicker way to remove the unnecessary startup apps—find the Remove all button on the bottom left of your screen
Step 2. Look for login items via MacKeeper

Note from our team:


If you’re unsure about what to remove, look at the description that MacKeeper provides. It'll tell you the type, such as daemon, agent or app, as well as where the startup item is stored and when it was installed.


MacKeeper will display its own startup processes here, but it prevents you from deleting them. That protects you from accidentally breaking your MacKeeper installation.

Be careful while removing your startup items

We don’t recommend deleting all startup items on your Mac. Many of them will be useful to you, but you should look through them and see what you actually want. If you’re experiencing speed issues, it’s a good area to investigate, but it’s just one of many.


Using a software optimizer for Mac like MacKeeper will enable you to do a smart scan to find and fix these problems at once, maximising the performance boost you’re likely to see.


1. What are Mac startup programs?

As the name suggests, Mac startup programs are apps and other processes that run automatically as soon as macOS starts. This is mostly a good thing. You want apps like antivirus to run all the time, to give you maximum protection, but you don’t want to have to start them every time you turn on your Mac.


The problem is your Mac has to load all of these apps while it’s also trying to boot up OS X. And then it'll continue to run them until you close them. It’s easy to see how having too many startup items can slow down your Mac. Fortunately, disabling Mac startup apps isn’t difficult.

2. Is it safe to delete Mac startup items?

In our experience, it should be perfectly safe to remove startup apps from your Mac. You’re never going to run into problems changing Login Items in System Preferences. However, when you start deleting launch agents and daemons, it’s possible you might remove something you actually need. Delete the wrong thing, and apps could become unstable or difficult to use.


This is why we haven’t looked at how to delete startup items in the System > Library folder. It’s not worth the risk when there are safer ways to change what starts up with your Mac.

3. Which Mac startup items should I remove?

Start by looking at your Login Items in System Preferences - that’s the low-hanging fruit. Those are full apps that run at startup, even if they’re hidden and running in the background. Some apps will add themselves to this list, even if they don’t really need to.


You should also look out for startup items linked to uninstalled apps. Sometimes, these can get left behind when an app is removed from your Mac. MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller has a leftovers feature that can help you identify and remove these remnants.

4. Can you temporarily prevent startup items from launching at login?

If you only want to stop Mac startup apps temporarily, here’s how to do it:

  1. When you see the login window, hold the Shift key while you click the Log In button
  2. Release the Shift key when you see the Dock
  3. If you don’t see the login window, restart your Mac
  4. Hold down the Shift key when you see the progress bar in the startup window
  5. Release the Shift key after the desktop appears.


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