How to Run an App Automatically at Startup in Windows 11

Launch the apps you use the most as soon as you start your system and cut down on the waiting time

We all use several apps daily, be it for work, study, gaming, or even casual productivity. But most of us, more or less, work with the same set of apps almost every day, especially on our work computers.

Not everything can be pinned in the Start Menu and Taskbar. Neither can you place every icon on the desktop, at least not in a very aesthetically pleasing way. The end result? We all have to navigate folders and menus to open the apps we want to use. Though it isn’t too cumbersome, it isn’t the most pleasant experience either.

Fortunately, Windows allows you to launch apps automatically when Windows starts. You can even configure to launch the apps in a maximized or minimized window as per your needs. It brings even more convenience to the experience. You can launch the app that you use the most in a maximized window and hop onto work as soon as you log in to your computer.

There are multiple ways you can do this, and we will be showcasing all of them in this guide to help you choose the method that suits you the best.

Method 1: Configure Automatic App Launch Using the Settings App

This is the most convenient method out of the lot. The Settings app compiles a list of startup apps where you can simply toggle ‘On’ or ‘Off’ and you will be good to go.

To configure the apps to launch automatically using this method, first, head to the Start Menu and click on the ‘Settings’ app present under the ‘Pinned apps’ section to proceed. Otherwise, you can also press the Windows+I keys to open the app.

Then, from the Settings app, click on the ‘Apps’ tab situated on the left sidebar to continue.

Now, from the right section of the window, locate and click on the ‘Startup’ tile to proceed.

After that, you will be able to see the list of apps on your screen. Now, locate the app that you wish to start automatically at the Windows startup and click on the individual following toggle to bring it to the ‘On’ position.

Once you have toggled on all your preferred apps, close the window to exit the app. Next time when you log in to your Windows account, the apps will automatically start in the background and you won’t have to launch them manually.

Though the Settings method is very convenient, there’s one downside. It does not offer you the option to start the apps maximized. Neither can you add your own apps to the Startup list.

But there’s no need to lose heart. The other method definitely allows you to do so.


Method 2: Create a Shortcut in the Startup Folder

Apart from toggling the apps from the Settings menu, you can simply create a shortcut of your preferred app right in the ‘Startup’ folder. Though it might sound a bit technical at the moment, follow the simple steps below and you will get the hang of it on the very first try.

First, press the Windows+R keys together on your keyboard to bring up the Run Command utility. Then, type shell:startup in the text box and click on the ‘OK’ button or hit Enter on your keyboard to continue. This will open a separate File Explorer window on your screen.

Next, on the separately opened window, right-click on the empty space to reveal the context menu and then hover over the ‘New’ option to expand it. Then, locate and click on the ‘Shortcut’ option from the sub-menu to proceed. This will bring an overlay window to your screen.

Now, from the separately opened window, click on the ‘Browse’ button. This will open a File Explorer window. Then, using the File Explorer window, locate the .EXE file of the installed program that you wish to run on startup and double-click on it to select it.

After that, you will be able to see the selected app’s shortcut in the folder. Now, next time when you restart the Windows PC, the apps placed in this folder will launch automatically.

Moreover, you can put as many apps as you wish by using the same method showcased above.

In case you wish to start a program maximized, first, locate the app in the Startup folder and right-click on it to reveal the context menu. Then, choose the ‘Properties’ option from it.

Next, on the properties window, locate the ‘Run’ option and click on the dropdown menu next to it and choose the ‘Maximized Window’ option from the menu. Finally, click on the ‘Apply’ button to save the changes and click on the ‘OK’ button to close the window. That’s it, the chosen app would be launched in a maximized window automatically every time at the launch.

Though this method allows you to add more programs than the Settings method and also allows you to control the behavior of the app at launch, it still might not be the most ideal choice if you wish to add loads of apps together. However, the next method can resolve this issue quickly for you.


Method 3: Copy Apps to Startup Folder From Apps Folder

This method will allow you to easily drag and drop apps into the Startup folder instead of adding shortcuts. It’s the most ideal method that will save a lot of hassle when you need to add multiple apps in a single go.

First, you will need to open the Startup folder. Press the Windows+R keys together on your keyboard to bring up the Run Command utility. Then, type shell:startup in the text box and hit Enter or click on the ‘OK’ button to proceed. This will open a separate File Explorer window on your screen.

After that, again press the Windows+R keys together on your keyboard to bring up the Run Command utility and type shell:appsfolder in the text box, and hit Enter or click on the ‘OK’ button to continue. This will open a separate File Explorer window on your screen.

Now, all the installed apps will be present in the ‘Applications’ folder window which you can simply click-hold and then drag across the window, then drop into the ‘Startup folder’ window.

For an optimal experience, drag either window by clicking and holding onto its title bar and move it all the way across your screen and make sure the cursor touches the side edge of the screen. Windows will display the snapping area for the window, release the mouse button to snap it.

Once you have snapped the window, Windows will present you with all the minimized windows to snap on the other side; click on the other folder to continue. In this case, we first snapped the Applications folder, so now we’re snapping the Startup folder on the other side.

Now, you will be able to easily drag and drop apps across both windows. Once you have placed the desired apps in the ‘Startup’ folder, close all the file explorer windows. On your next restart, the apps will be launched automatically.


Method 4: Create a Task Using the Task Scheduler

One more method you can use is to invoke Task Scheduler to start the programs when you log on to Windows. The Task Scheduler is responsible for all the trigger-based tasks in the operating system and can also accept tasks from the user to run at a specific time.

First, head to the Start Menu and type ‘Task Scheduler’ to perform a search for it. After that, click on the ‘Task Scheduler’ tile from the search results to continue.

Then, on the Task Scheduler window, from the left section of the window, right-click on the ‘Task Scheduler Library’ folder and then choose the ‘New Folder’ option from the context menu. This will bring an overlay window to your screen.

After that, type User Tasks in the space provided and click on the ‘OK’ button to proceed.

Note: This step is not necessary but is recommended as it will help you organize system-scheduled tasks and user-scheduled tasks.

Then, click on the chevron button preceding the ‘Task Scheduler Library’ to expand the section, and then right-click on the folder you just created. Next, click on the ‘Create Basic Task’ option to proceed. This will bring a separate window to your screen.

Now, on the separately opened window, enter an appropriate name of the task in the ‘Name’ field and click on the ‘Next’ button to continue.

On the next screen, click on the radio button preceding the ‘When I log on’ option and then click on the ‘Next’ button to proceed.

After that, click on the radio button preceding the ‘Start a program’ option to select the action and click on the ‘Next’ button to continue.

Next, click on the ‘Browse’ button to browse the .EXE file for the program from the app installation folder you wish to start automatically using the File Explorer window. Once selected, click on the ‘Next’ button to continue.

Then, finally, click on the ‘Finish’ button to save the changes and close the window. Once you have successfully completed the steps, the app will open automatically when you log on to Windows.


That’s it, people. Using the aforementioned methods, you can set your own preferred app(s) to run automatically at Windows startup. Although, be advised that too many apps running at Startup can slow down the startup process. So, only add apps that are absolutely essential. And if you find that they are significantly slowing down your system startup, you’ll have to kick some of these apps out of this list.