How to Access the Windows 10 Startup Folder

Even though the Windows Startup folder got the backburner quite some time ago, it is still available, hidden within the deep data structure of Windows 10. It sounds complicated to find or get to, but it isn’t at all.

What is the Windows Startup Folder?

The Startup folder was unique, dating back as far as Windows 95, that you could find via the Start Menu. Programs got linked from within the folder and ran whenever the computer powered on or rebooted.

The little flyout menu appeared when you clicked on the “Start” button in the lower-left corner of the screen.


The Start Menu, Windows 95 version

Startup Folder Windows 7

The familiar Startup folder from Windows 7

As you can see, there were sections to power down the machine, to run a command in a command-line interpreter, to access the system help, to search for things, to access the settings (a.k.a. Control Panel), to load your documents folder, and of course, the Programs folder. Inside the Programs folder, we quickly saw the Startup folder. This integration was last available in Windows 7.

Users could manually drag application shortcuts to the Startup folder (from their favorite Web browser, word processor, or media player). These apps automatically launched before or after the user logged in.

If you have Windows 10, the Start Menu is launched by the Windows logo in that same corner. All you do is tap the Windows key on your keyboard or click the Windows logo, and the Start Menu pops up. However, the Startup folder is nowhere to be found.

How Do I Open the Start Menu in Windows 10?

One important thing to understand is that there are now two Startup folder locations in Windows 10, including:

  1. One Startup folder that operates at the system level and is shared among all user accounts
  2. Another Startup folder that operates at the user level and is unique to each user on the system

For example, consider a PC with two user accounts: one account for Jane and one account for John. A shortcut for Microsoft Edge is placed, somewhat implausibly, in the “All Users” Startup folder, and a link for Notepad gets put in the Startup folder for the Jane user account. When Jane logs into Windows, both Microsoft Edge and Notepad will launch automatically, but when John logs into his account, only Edge will start.

Opening Windows 10 Startup Folder Using Explorer

You can navigate to both the “All Users” and “Current User” Startup folders in Windows 10 using the following paths.

Note that you can either navigate to these paths via File Explorer or copy and paste the relative path in the Run box, which gets accessed by pressing Windows Key + R on your keyboard.

If you opt to use File Explorer, note that you’ll need to enable the “Show Hidden Files” option to see specific folders in the path.

windows 10 startup folder

  1. The All Users Startup folder is found in the following path:
    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp
  2. The Current User Startup folder is located here:
    C:\Users\[User Name]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

To access the “All Users” Startup folder in Windows 10, open the Run dialog box (Windows Key + R), type shell:common startup, and click OK.

windows 10 common startup folder
For the “Current User Startup folder, open the Run dialog and type shell:startup.

windows 10 user startup folder
Windows 10 Startup Folder Launch Order

As a final note, it’s important to mention that the items you place in your “All Users” or “Current User” Startup folders won’t start immediately upon logging in to your Windows 10 account. Furthermore, some links may not launch at all, ironically.

Instead, the operating system launches programs in a specific order: Windows will first load its necessary system processes and any items in the Task Manager’s Startup tab, and then it runs your Startup folder items after that’s complete.

For most users, these initial steps won’t take long, and you’ll see your designated Startup folder apps launch within a second or two of reaching the Windows 10 desktop. If you have lots of applications and services already configured to launch at boot, it may take a few moments to see your Startup folder items appear.

If your computer startup is slow, it’s a good idea to check the startup folder to ensure you do not have programs in there that you don’t need to launch at boot. It’s best to keep the number to a minimum.

Here are some more tips (including modifying the software that opens on boot) about how to speed up your Windows 10 PC.

8 thoughts on “How to Access the Windows 10 Startup Folder”

Avatar Jim says:
What if the app you want to auto-start was installed via the new MSIX install package (as opposed to the old MSI install package? Jim
Avatar Gkygrrl says:
Couldn’t the same function be achieved through msconfig? I would think it would work more smoothly setting the start up options there versus doing shortcut from another computer.
Avatar TardNoGirlFriend says:
Just in case you are your computers’ admin.
Check registry branches:
1) HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
2) HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
Not panacea, but still most of software you see in task manager but don’t see in common startup directories writes its startup keys in these branches.
There are some more registry branches but most of them consider malware.
Avatar David Barber says:
Thanks for your time in posting this. It’s an old post, but this is exactly what I was looking for.
Avatar Ben says:
im trying to remove skype from the startup and it just comes up as the folder being empty buut it cant be as skype opens itself every time open my computer. what do i do??
Avatar LogicPolice says:
Uninstall Skype
Avatar Zchap says:
Avatar drcjones says:
Thank you! Especially for the Task Manager’s Startup tab info.
Avatar Sarvelio Navarro says:
Listo, me fue de mucha utilidad este post muy agradecido por la informacion
Avatar Dan Martin says:
Worthless considering we’re LOCKED OUT from adding shortcuts to the folder by default.
Avatar Paul Peterson says:
Dude, it is not the article writer’s fault that you are not able to access all your computer functions. It worked great for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.