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How to Manage and Disable Startup Programs and Processes on Mac?


Every time you start your Mac, services and apps known as login items launch concurrently with the system. Most apps don’t request user permission to launch at startup, so they silently run in the background. They sneak into the list of login items and settle there, unnoticed, until Mac’s performance drops. It may happen that the application uninstalled from Mac long ago, still loads on startup.

Over time, broken login items searching for missing applications, start eating up more system resources. For instance, .kext files (kernel extensions) and login scripts in the earlier Mac OS X versions would cause users plenty of a headache on Mac’s startup. Users need to take care of macOS Sierra login items either by cleaning it manually or using third-party apps. Read on to find out how to clean up the unneeded, broken or hidden startup items.

How to Stop Programs from Running at Startup on Mac

Users of macOS Sierra and High Sierra can add or remove apps from Mac OS X login items.

  • 1. In the Apple menu, go to System Preferences -> Users & Groups.
  • 2. Select a user account -> click Login Items at the top of the window.
  • 3. To remove one or more login items from the list, select the needed app or service, then click the minus button under the login items list.

go to apps list

It is possible to prevent specific items from automatic launch on your Mac’s startup.

  • If a login window appears, hold down the Shift key and click the Log In button at once, after that release the Shift key as soon as you see the Dock.
  • If a login window doesn’t show up, reboot your Mac, hold down the Shift key during the startup. Once the desktop appears, release the Shift key.

It is possible to remove broken login items and to launching daemons manually.

1. In the top menu bar, click Go -> Library, or use a Command-Shift-L shortcut.

2. Access the following applications-related folders to clean up startup items, launching daemons, and agents

  • /Library/StartUpItems – contains all the startup files launched together with the system. If you’re 100% sure your actions won’t cause harm to the system, delete the unnecessary login items.
  • /Library/LaunchDaemons – includes preference files defining the way a specific application that launches along with the system. Removing this folder is safe, so you can get rid of the launching daemons if you’re sure you don’t need them.
  • /Library/LaunchAgents – includes preference files defining the programs that launch during the login process (not the startup).

Apart from the above folders, make sure to check system folders to see if any of the system applications are launched on startup:

work with daemons

  • 1. /System/Library/LaunchDaemons – double-check the items you intend to remove from this folder because it contains important system items that should be kept intact.
  • 2. /System/Library/LaunchAgents – you may not find anything worthy of removing in this folder. Still, you should keep it in mind as a place to look for files related to any problematic application on your Mac.

How to Change Startup Programs on Mac

Not only can users remove apps from login items in macOS Sierra, but also add or hide Mac startup apps:

  • To add a login item, click the plus button under the login items list, choose a file, folder, application or another item, then click Add.
  • To hide a login item’s window after login, tick the Hide checkbox next to it.
  • To make a specific app open at login, use the Dock panel. In case the application has an icon lodged in the Dock panel, right-click on it and select Options → Open at Login from the pop-up window.

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How to Clean Startup Items with Third-Party Apps

In case none of the above advice helps (which is unlikely, but still) users may turn to third-party applications. Not only do these programs help to get rid of unnecessary login items, but also recover the precious disk space on your Mac and enhance its overall performance. Apps like MacFly Pro can help you deal with unwanted login items in one click. Feel free to remove the apps you no longer use completely, including the startup items. Also, the Smart Assistant shipped with the app runs background system checks to make sure users know of available system improvements.

Using special cleaning apps provided by third-party vendors allows for fast and effective login items clean up with minimum risk. Users don’t get involved in the process, which prevents them from deleting the needed items and causing harm to the operating system. One more benefit of using third-party app lies in their user-friendly and intuitive interface, which doesn’t require any special skills. Downloading the external software from trusted developers will ensure safe and smooth cleaning of your login items list.

In Conclusion

Getting rid of unnecessary login items on your Mac is one of the ways to keep its operating performance on point. Users can clean up the startup items related folders manually or using third-party apps with special cleaning functionality. Choosing in favor of the latter prevents from removing important system-wide files. Download third-party apps from trusted developers only to avoid malware or virus attacks.

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