Controlling/Stopping/Disabling Startup Programs in Windows Vista

I’ve been using Windows Vista for three days now. While I’m not sure it’s a must -have upgrade for most people, there are some interesting features in Vista that are very cool and useful (once you find them, that is). One such feature is the new Software Explorer, which is part of Windows Defender. Software Explorer allows you to see several categories of programs, including: Startup Programs, Currently Running Programs, Network Connected Programs, and Winsock Service Providers.

My favorite is Startup Programs, which allows you to see all programs that load at startup. For the first time ever, Vista allows you to see if the program starts up for all users or just the currently logged in user. The information provided about each program is more thorough than msconfig (which is still present in Vista). Best of all, you can disable or remove a startup program. To get to to Software Explorer, do the following:

  1. Search for or use the start menu to navigate to Windows Defender.
  2. Click on Tools in the Windows Defender menu bar.
  3. Click on Software Explorer.
  4. If you want to ensure that you can Enable/Disable/Remove any of the startup items listed, click the Show for All Users button at the bottom of the Window.
  5. Click continue to give the User Account Control permission to change the registry entries required to disable startup programs.
  6. Click on any program in the list and you’ll have the option to Disable/Remove the startup items.

If nothing else, Microsoft may finally realize how important controlling startup programs can be.

Update (December 28, 2010): Windows 7 does not have the Software Explorer. As a commenter mentioned, going to Start > Run and typing in msconfig, then clicking the Startup tab will allow you to remove startup items with the click of a button.

Personally, I use a program called WinPatrol, which is available in a free and paid edition. I have used the free edition for years and love all the options it provides for changing startup options. It is a bit more complex than the built in offerings, however, if you want lots of control and lots of information regarding what’s starting up, it’s definitely the way to go.

If msconfig and WinPatrol are so great, why did I make mention of the Software Explorer feature? Basically because I like to know as many ways of doing something (such as disabling startup programs) as possible on a computer. You never know when when one method or the other won’t work or be allowed, so it helps to know as many ways to do certain things as possible!



I have had Vista 64 bit for about 2 months now and I have yet to find a way to disable the register window for "ScanSoft OmniForm". I did register the program on my old computer with XP and now that I am using Vista on the new machine I did not want to register again because I don’t remember if the first time if I registered under my name or my wifes name.  Anyway I don’t want to have to register again, I just want this program to stop coming up on every start up. I even clicked the button "Skip registration. Do not ask again" but it comes up every time. Then I tried the Windows Defender and the program comes up under the runing programs when it is up but does not come up under the programs for start up. So with that Windows Defender will not let you disable a program not on the list.  This makes you think if a simple program like OmniForm comes up without Windows Defender knowing about  it what will hacker be able to do?



Does the Omniform program itself have anything that launches at startup? Perhaps something that is always memory resident that hooks to your TWAIN driver? If so, that part of the program that is allowed to run at startup could trigger the registration app. This technique has always been common and it appears still works to this day.

As a really low-tech fix, you could find out what the name of the registration app is and delete it…If the app isn’t there, it can’t run! :) But I do understand that you want to be able to disable this thing the "right" way. Sorry I’m not more help with Omniform in that department.

I have no doubt that hackers have already figured out a way to defeat Windows Defender: It isn’t (and will never be) bulletproof.


I’ve used it and i’m very pleased with it, seems most of the replies seem to compare it to an infallible programme, like there ever was one. This isn’t an anti-virus it wouldnt stop viruses from running, there are other tricks for that, but this does stop stupid companies who feel by starting their programmes automatically without your consent especially anti-viruses it will make you want to use their programme more, or some cynical end.
It’s a very good interface which gives you power to control what runs on your pc at any certain time and when it runs.

ketan patel

i read ur article.

i liked and i applied ur article to my laptop

thank u


I just had a friend text me asking how to disable things that start automatically in Vista. I hadn’t tried it with Vista yet, but suggested clicking Start and then Run, typing msconfig and hitting Enter.

She was able to disable many things that were starting automatically with this dialog box.


I have not been able to load OmniForm and was told my Nuance that it won’t run with Vista (which is really ruining my day!).  Are you saying that it is possible to run OmniForm with Vista?  Thanks!


You are correct that MSConfig will also disable things from starting. It’s been around since Windows 98. I posted this article because I though people would be interested in learning about a new way to do the same old tricks in Vista ;-)

Leave a Reply

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