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.
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:
- One Startup folder that operates at the system level and is shared among all user accounts
- 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.
- The All Users Startup folder is found in the following path:
- 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.
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.