How to Stop Mac Apps From Running at Startup


Every time you turn on your Mac, various apps, and services launch automatically in the background. Commonly referred to as login items, they can be genuinely useful and convenient.

But having a lot of login items can increase your Mac’s bootup time and decrease its performance. This makes it necessary to understand to know how to adjust startup preferences in order to optimize your Mac’s performance.

Today we’ll look at how to add, remove, and delay apps starting up on your Mac.

How to Stop Mac Apps From Running at Startup

If your Mac boots up slowly, it’s a possible indicator that you need to optimize your login items. Thankfully, macOS provides a native and handy way to stop apps from running when your Mac starts up. Here’s how to do that.

Open System Preferences and click Users & Groups > Login Items. The displayed items are set to launch automatically when your Mac starts. To remove an app, simply select the app and click on the “minus icon.

Stop Mac Apps From Running at Startup

If you want an app to start automatically but would like to start it silently in the background, check the Hide box. For instance, you may want to autostart your favorite torrent client so that it can complete its seeding, but you don’t necessarily want its window to appear actively when your Mac starts up.

It’s a good idea to keep the startup items to a minimum for optimal performance of your Mac.

How to Temporarily Disable Login Items on Your Mac

It’s possible to prevent login items from running automatically on a temporary per-login basis. This can be especially helpful if you need to login really quickly, or if you’re troubleshooting your Mac to fix startup problems.

When you see the login window, enter your credentials then hold down the Shift key and click on the Log In button. Release the key when the Dock appears. If you don’t see the login window, restart your Mac and hold down the Shift key when you see the progress bar.

Your Mac will now launch without starting any login items.

How to Delay the Startup of Login Items on Your Mac

If you’ve tons of apps that auto-start with your Mac, your system performance is likely to take a hit. You can possibly disable them, but then it’d be tiresome to launch each app manually. Enter Delay Start.

delay start of login items

This simple Mac app lets you control what apps open and when. It lets you spread out the timing of your launch items in order to reduce the load on your Mac. Here’s how to get started.

  1. Remove existing launch items from System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items. Select all the apps and click on the “minus icon.
  2. Click on the “+plus icon and add Delay Start to the list.
  3. Now launch Delay Start. Click on the “+plus icon to add apps you want to start automatically with your Mac.
  4. Enter the time in seconds in the Time Setting box. Your Mac will delay the launch of that particular app by the time set above.

Repeat the last two steps and configure the delay time for as many apps you like.

configure the delay of login items

How to Auto-Launch Apps at Startup on Your Mac

If you deal with specific apps on a daily basis, setting such apps to launch automatically can help you save some time. Here’s how you can do it.

  1. Open System Preferences and click Users & Groups > Login Items.
  2. To add an app, click on the “+” icon and select the app that you want to start automatically.
  3. Repeat as necessary for any additional apps. You can hide them using the Hide checkbox.

If you can manage to keep the number of Launch Items in check, this trick can help increase productivity on your Mac.

access mac login items

How to Detect Malicious Login Items on Your Mac

Contrary to popular belief, Macs can get infected with malware too.

KnockKnock is a free Mac app that gives you an overview of everything that’s launching on your Mac and also scans them for potential malware using VirusTotal.

Launch KnockKnock and click on Start Scan. The scan should be completed in a minute or two. After the scan is complete, it will display results categorized into various sections.

For instance, the Launch Items category will display all the apps that auto-start with your Mac. The Kernel Extensions category will display installed modules that are possibly kernel loaaded, and so on.

Once you select a category, you’ll see information from VirusTotal on the right-hand side. If the Launch Item is found to be infected, you can click on Show to locate the file in Finder and delete it.

KnockKnock on mac

KnockKock can also help you determine whether a particular launch item belongs to Apple or if it belongs to a third-party software vendor.

You should see a small padlock icon beside the name of an item. A green padlock indicates that the item is signed by Apple. Third-party signed items are denoted by a closed black padlock. Unsigned items are denoted by an open orange padlock. An open padlock doesn’t necessarily mean that the item is malicious, but you should still be wary of it.

KnockKnock on mac

Take Complete Charge of Your Mac’s Login Items

Use KnockKnock to detect any malicious startup items your Mac might have. Delete any infected apps immediately. Then, you can set useful apps to autorun and remove pesky programs that add themselves automatically. Better yet, you can delay the launch of apps to reduce strain on your Mac’s resources.

You can use the above tips in tandem to optimize startup programs on your Mac. With a little bit of tinkering around with these settings and some patience, your Mac should boot up faster and feel snappier than ever.


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