The easy way to automatically start any program in Windows 10

Where has the Start-up folder gone? Here's how to find it

Suppose you have a favourite program that you use a lot. It might be useful if it could be set to automatically start every time you log into Windows. It can and here’s how to do it.

When Windows had a proper Start menu, not like the one that is in Windows 8 and 10, there was a folder called Start-up. This could be used to automatically start any program when Windows starts.

You could click and drag a menu item or program to the Start-up folder on the Start menu to add it. Every program in Start, All Programs, Start-up would then run automatically.

If you look at the Start menu in Windows 10, this feature is no longer there. Microsoft took it out and there is no Start-up folder. There are lots of great features in Windows 10, but the Start menu still isn’t as functional as Windows 7.

So how do we set programs to auto-start in Windows 10 without a Start-up folder?

The Start-up folder may no longer be visible on the Start menu, but surprisingly, it still exists. The folder is hidden, but still there and it still functions the way it used to.

Customise Explorer

To make this task easier, we need to tweak Explorer’s View settings. Open an Explorer window and in the Show/Hide section of the ribbon toolbar, tick Filename extensions, and Hidden items. (If the Explorer window is small, this section becomes a menu button.)

Change the View settings in Explorer in Windows

Find a program

First we need to create a shortcut. Open an Explorer window and then find a program you want to autostart. The most likely place it will be is in C:\ Program Files or C:\Program Files (x86).

Explorer context menu - create a shortcut

Create a shortcut

Right click the the program file (ending with a .exe extension), and select Send to, Desktop (create shortcut). This creates an icon on the desktop that can be used to start the program.

Open the Start-up folder

Open Explorer and go to C:\Users \YourName \AppData \Roaming \Microsoft \Windows \Start Menu \Programs \Start-up

Drag the icon from the desktop and drop it in the Start-up folder.

Explorer in Windows

Now whenever you start Windows, this program will run automatically.


Another way to do this is to go to:

C:\Users \YourName \AppData \Roaming \Microsoft \Windows \Start Menu \Programs


C:\ProgramData \Microsoft \Windows \Start Menu \Programs

Copy any program (click it and press Ctrl+C) and paste it into the Start-up folder (Ctrl+V).

Wait, it works!

If you try this, you might wonder if it is working or not. This is because of the way that Windows starts. The desktop is drawn very early on in the startup process to make it look like Windows starts faster than it actually does. It is still loading though.

Programs in the Start-up folder are among the very last things to run when starting Windows. This means that the desktop might appear, then nothing happens for 30 seconds, then your program appears. It seems like it will never appear, but it’s Windows scheduling it last in the startup process.

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