How to Stop Apps from Auto Opening on Startup Mac

Editor’s Note: the Login Items method may not stop some apps from opening on startup, and some may not even show up on the startup list. Hence, you would have to use a Mac cleaner software like CleanMyMac X to remove them from the startup on Mac. 

Apple packs its new MacBook full of features to help you be more productive at every turn. Between gestures, the launchpad, and so much more, there are hundreds of ways to personalize your workflow.

Unfortunately, sometimes these features can get in your way when they aren’t properly set up. The “Open at Login” feature is one of those — it can be great for those who frequently need specific applications every day as soon as they begin working.

But if your Mac is bombarding you with auto-run apps or services as soon as you log in each morning, it can be a pain.

So how do you stop those pesky apps from opening automatically every time you start your computer? I’m here to show you three methods to do that.

1. Via Users & Groups > Login Items

If you want to stop multiple apps from opening on startup, using System Preferences will let you do it all in one place.

First, open System Preferences by navigating to the Apple menu in the top left corner of your Mac. It will be the second option in the drop-down menu, and once you click it you’ll notice the program open in the dock and as a window.

The home screen for System Preferences is a grid of options. You should look in the second row on the middle column for Users & Groups. The button looks like two small dark silhouettes of people from the shoulders up.

System Preferences > Users & Groups, macOS Monterey

Once you click this, you’ll transition to a new screen that lists all the Mac users along the left side and your account settings in the main section. At the top of this main section are two buttons: “Password” and “Login Items”. By default, you’ll be on the “Password” tab, so change to “Login Items”.

This will bring you to the app opening preferences. You’ll see a list of all the apps set to open upon login, in no particular order. To stop an app from opening, click on it in the list so that it is highlighted in blue.

Then, just beneath the list of login items, click the small minus sign. The item will be removed from the list and will cease to open at startup.

Alternatively, if you accidentally remove an app that you want to continue opening at startup, you can choose the small plus button instead. This will open a Finder window for you to choose the application you want, and it will be added to the list of apps in System Preferences.

2. Via App Settings

Is one particular app bothering you every time you log in? You can end the annoying behavior easily by changing the app’s settings.

I’ll be using Microsoft Word to demonstrate, but the process is nearly identical for almost all apps. First, open the application you want to prevent from automatically starting up (you can skip this step if the application is already kept in the dock).

Then, right-click with your mouse or Control + left-click if you’re using a trackpad or external mouse with two-button mode disabled.

Depending on the app, you’ll have additional options when the small menu shows up, but all apps will show “Options”. Choose “Options”, and then you’ll see “Open at Login” with a small checkmark next to it if the application is set to automatically open.

To end turn this off by simply clicking “Open at Login” once. The check mark will disappear and the menu will close. Want to check if it worked? Just right click and re-navigate to the options menu. The check mark will be gone, indicating that the program will no longer open at login.

This method works best for individual applications, whereas the previous method of utilizing System Preferences is better for large-scale changes.

3. Via CleanMyMac

There may be apps or services that you can’t get rid of using the above two methods, they are mostly auto-launch agents that show up in the menu bar.

But you can still disable or remove them with CleanMyMac X — it is extremely well known for its ability to clean up a Mac and help you regain more storage space, and can make your Mac run a bit faster. Also, it comes with many useful features to make your Mac life easier. One of the features is to get rid of those launch agents.

Once you download and install CleanMyMac, open the app and navigate to Optimization > Launch Agents (screenshot below):

In the list, simply check those applications/services you don’t need to autorun when your Mac starts up, then hit the “Remove” button (note: the removal function isn’t available in the trial version).

If you don’t yet have a copy of CleanMyMac X, you can get it here and have access to lots of cool features such as secure document deletion, duplicate file detection, the safe uninstaller, and plenty of other tools to help you optimize your Mac system.

Final Words

Turning off the “open at login” feature can have a lot of benefits for your MacBook. Your Mac will run faster on startup since it won’t be frantically opening multiple apps at once. It will also give you a clean working space to start your day and prevent a sudden barrage of new windows, especially since you may not need all of them.

On the other hand, if you know you use certain apps on a daily basis, you can use any one of the above methods to simply enable that app instead. It all comes down to what helps you work smarter rather than harder.

What built-in tricks do you use to keep your Mac away from annoying auto-launch apps or services? Tell us in the comments below!

About Eric
Eric currently uses a 15-inch MacBook Pro for both work and personal errands. He did all the research and testing to make sure all the fixes and optimization tips shared on the blog are relevant to Apple’s latest macOS updates as well as fact-checking.

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  • Tom

    I think the easiest solution is to right click the pesky apps and make sure that you click ‘quit’ before you log out, as well as ensure that you have un-checked the ‘start at startup’ option for all of them, using the advice above. Mine stopped loading automatically when I made sure that I quit them properly before I switched off.

    Reply
  • Baetanto

    The first suggestion worked. Thanks! But one app still auto-run whenever MacOS started (it’s Anydesk), so the last resort I get rid of it (I will download and reinstall if the need comes), problem solved now.

    Reply
  • Felix

    Hi, thanks for the cool guide. Unfortunately, I am from the group of people, which didn’t have success. Clean My Mac is not found in start agents or login items. And it also doesn’t show up within Clean My Mac.
    I am always on the verge of uninstalling this tool as this is suspicious behavior. But I still won’t do it, because there has to be some solution, right? Right lol?

    When I open the CleanMyMac X.app package, I can find following files:
    – CleanMyMac X.app/Contents/Library/LaunchServices/com.macpaw.CleanMyMac4.Agent
    – CleanMyMac X.app/Contents/Library/LoginItems/CleanMyMac X Menu.app

    Nothing else in these folders. Are they relevant, maybe they can help somehow?
    Kind regards!

    Reply
  • Bob T

    I remove it from “login items” and it shows up there again every time I restart the computer. Any idea how to fix that? How does it even do that without permission?

    Reply
    • Lorena

      Certain software can’t be stopped by the ‘login items’ method, you would a software like CleanMyMac to uncheck it.

      Reply
  • Laura Ancona

    I have done all of these and my mail still pops up when I start or login

    Reply
  • jeff

    bullshit it seems the problem persists and the same advice which it does work , you just keep repeating the same advice in vain.

    Reply
  • Sharon

    Thank you, all the other articles on autostart only mentioned the system preferences way of doing this. I couldn’t find how to switch off at the app level until I read this.
    However, if anyone wants to stop Spotify from auto opening, you have to go into Preferences and Advanced Settings to switch it off – really annoying!

    Reply
  • juan

    DESN’T WORK!!!!!

    Reply
  • Steve Lyons

    Thanks for a very clear article, however, no apps are listed at all in the login item list and in options the “open at login” is not checked on any of the apps which keeps opening automatically. (using OS Catalina on my 2014 MacBook Pro Retina, although already had problem before updated)
    Problem driving me crazy, can anyone give me an early Christmas gift and help please?

    Reply
  • Katie

    Not working for me either, the issue being with utorrent. It doesn’t appear in the user and groups setting (actually nothing does under Login options). When I right click and look under options, open at login is ticked, but selecting it doesn’t untick. Any other suggestions?

    Reply
  • Charlie

    Doesn’t work for mail/gmail.

    Reply
  • Jo Davies

    Hi, I somehow have Avast Security installed, not sure if it was an accidental download or Malware.
    It does not appear in any of the startup menus and CleanMyMac can’t remove it as it can’t close it.
    I have a MacAir 2011 recently upgraded OS X Yosemite 10.10.5
    Any help gratefully received

    Reply
  • deborah

    I have tried all of the above, but Spotify continues to open on startup. The option for “open at login” is not checked. I read somewhere that with some apps, you have to go directly to that app and check or un-check that option, but I am unable to find that with Spotify.

    Reply
    • Hannah

      You have to go into “System preference” of Spotify, then click advance settings, then disable startup from there.

      Reply
      • ricky

        Awesome worked for Anydesk as well. thanks

        Reply
      • MATT

        THIS WORKED! All of the other posts did nothing for me. Messenger was opening every time I restarted and it was making me crazy! I did the following:
        – Open Messenger
        – Click “Messenger” menu at the top left of my screen
        – Click “Preferences”
        under “General” there is an option that says “Open the Messenger Desktop App when you start your computer”
        Turn it off… VOILA!!

        Reply
  • yin

    None of those are used, still opening many application when starting ,very frustrating.

    Reply
    • Lorena

      can you share with me which app(s) are auto-starting?

      Reply
      • LAURA CORTES

        in my case is the mail, VLC and word. None are mark in none of the three situations marked above and they just crush the mac till they are running.

        Reply
        • Lorena

          Certain software can’t be stopped by the ‘login items’ method, you would a software like CleanMyMac to uncheck it.

          Reply
  • Terry

    Many thanks for helping me to stop this really frustrating issue taking place. It also gave me the answer as to why finder was opening at every login as well, so you helped me kill two birds with one stone so many thanks.

    Reply
  • Danielle

    Thank you so much! I was having problems with applications opening upon turning my computer on that caused them to crash. This was the only helpful website!!! (Also for the third option I found Launch Agenta under Optimization just in case anyone couldn’t find it).

    Reply
    • Lorena

      Glad that we helped. You made our day 🙂

      Reply
  • Shari

    None of those options work or look like they are enabled to open at start up, but they still do. Any more suggestions?

    Reply
  • Dalim

    still opening microsoft excel, skype, google chrome opening 2 windnows first one is where i left off and second one is a new tab window

    Reply
  • Ashley

    Thank you so much! I found the article helpful to learn about which applications I would like to have available upon startup. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Sami Asfour

    Does not work

    Reply
  • Dee

    I’ve tried all the suggestions. Word wasn’t listed in Login Items as an app selected to open when I log in, went to options and Open at Login wasn’t selected either. And I certainly don’t want to have to buy Clean My Mac. Word opens a blank document, and the gallery every time I boot up & it’s infuriating. HELP

    Reply
  • Nadine

    I tried this but the program i want to stop from starting up is not in the list?
    I’m talking about the EPIC launcher (that’s used to start up Fortnite)

    Reply
    • Chris B.

      Open the Epic Launcher. In the bottom left, there should be a Settings tab, with a gear. that will take you to a page that will let you check off a box that says ‘run this when i start computer’.

      Reply
  • Frode

    Well my problem is that I need to stop the app upon start as it block any interface once it has started

    Reply
  • Leslie

    Thank you so much! Finally a simple easy to follow solution to my pesky persistent Chrome problem!

    Reply
  • Chris

    My problem still persists also – issue isn’t that there are apps in my startup list, it’s that for some reason my computer wants to reopen everything that was open when I shut down.

    Reply
  • Joy

    Sounds good! I’ll give all of these a try. Other than wiping my mac and reinstalling all the programs I need and reuploading my files, this sounds way easier.

    Reply
  • Alice

    Thank you so much! This was so helpful! Quick question, what is that yellow triangle with the exclamation mark?

    Reply
  • Brad

    Hey Lorena (or other reader),

    After I sent you my previous message I searched for uBlock within Login Items in Clean My Mac. It appeared. I disabled it. All appears to be good.

    I combed through the Login items very carefully – many times. uBlock hides itself. It also hides itself within Apple > System Preferences > Logins and Groups > etc.

    So no need to post my statement on your page. Just take the compliments – as they still stand – and perhaps test my theory. If I’m correct, add the search option to your article for those self hiding auto-launch applications.

    Alright, thank you again. It’s gone. Shazam.

    B

    Reply
  • Brad

    Hey,

    You’ve written a great article here, a template for great articles really – simple, no nonsense, not a history of computers before getting to the punch.

    My problem is I’m dealing with the 2018 uBlock and it thwarts all of your measures. It does not show up as a Login item, it has no Options menu item and R and L clicking do nothing, and it doesn’t show up within Clean My Mac.

    I’ve no donated to uBlock yet, as I’m testing it out (was forced to migrate from AdBlock when they changed).

    Any ideas as to solving this problem. I’m thinking this may go away with a donation, but I don’t want to chance it. It’s a Catch 22 of sorts, as if I can’t get rid of this there won’t be a donation and I’ll be vaporizing uBlock altogether.

    B

    Reply
  • Mariyam Masood

    Tried all three methods. Problem still persists

    Reply
    • Michael Wright

      The programs don’t show up in login items or via app settings but they still start automatically.

      Reply
    • Andy

      Hi there. Be sure to uncheck the ‘re-open windows when restarting’ option when you are shutting down or restarting, otherwise any apps you have left open when you are shutting down or restarting will just restart when you start your Mac (in my case a Mac mini) again.
      Hope that helps.
      Andy Breakspear

      Reply
    • Linda

      Same here. very frustrating

      Reply
    • Charlotte Romano

      Need. To keep my phone unlocked

      Reply
  • Caleb Hickenlooper

    Thank You! The other forum and help responses for getting Tidal to stop opening automatically were infuriatingly unhelpful.

    Reply
    • Lorena

      No problem. Glad that you found the article helpful 🙂

      Reply
    • Dale

      I have a MacBook Pro running High Sierra.
      How can I stop the Messages app from auto launching at startup.

      It is not listed in Users & Groups > Login where I would have the option to uncheck it.
      I don’t want to uninstall it.
      I just don’t want it popping up on my Desktop whenthe sydtem boots.

      Reply
    • LJ Slade

      Thank you for this VERY CLEAR set of instructions – the words and the clear screen shots were SO helpful! Good job 🙂

      Reply