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, it’s a good idea 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.  

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 will 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.

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

users & groups

3. Click on your account name in the left sidebar

login items tab admin user highlighted

4. Choose the Login Items tab

5. To remove an app, click it and press the minus button

login items tab with the minus button highlighted

6. If you just don’t want to see the app when it starts, click the Hide box instead

login items with hide box highlighted

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

right-click on the app in the dock

2. Right-click on it and hover over Options


3. Select 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

go-library menu

4. Click Library


5. Open the LaunchAgents folder


6. Delete any startup items you don’t want

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.

spotify advanced settings

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

mackeeper login items

3. If you haven’t done a scan in a while, click Rescan all

mackeeper login items

4. When the scan is finished, click the tickboxes next to any startup items you want to delete


5. Click Remove selected items


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


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


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.


Is it safe to delete Mac startup items?

On the whole, 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.

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.

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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