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Controlling What Programs Windows Runs Automatically

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If your computer’s startup is very sluggish or you don’t know what some of the icons in the system tray (the right-hand corner of your task bar in Windows) stand for, it may be a good idea to reduce the number of programs that automatically start each time you turn your computer on. There are two ways to do this. Any program that is listed under Start> Programs> Startup will be automatically started when you open Windows. To delete a program from the list, simply right-click it and select Delete.

However, deleting them from the list does not stop all automatic startup programs from running. To accomplish this, select Start>Run and type msconfig. The System Configuration Utility will appear. All utilities and programs on the Startup tab are started automatically. You will need some of these programs to start up, but the vast majority can be unchecked (depending on your computer configuration) to promote a faster startup and better performance.

Most of us won’t know what the odd-sounding names stand for (such as At2mdxx or ctfmon), but here are a few links that will give you a good idea of what each of these programs stands for and whether you need it or not:

For some odd reason, Microsoft decided to abolish the System Configuration Utility for Windows 2000 (only to reinstate it again for Windows XP). If you have Windows 2000 and you would like to use this utility anyway, you can easily use the version that comes with Windows XP. (If you don’t have access to a Windows XP computer, you can download it at To retrieve it from a Windows XP computer, locate the file msconfig.exe in the C:/WINDOWS directory (including its subdirectories). Once you find it, copy it to the C:/WINNT/system32 directory on the Windows 2000 computer and it will run without a hitch.

An even easier way to do this is with the help of a specialized application such as Startup Inspector (see This will not only give you a listing of the applications that are started, but it will also furnish you with a "rating" of each application. Like so many of the programs discussed in this newsletter, this program is freeware, or, more specifically, "donationware," which is free software that leaves you the option of donating something to the author.




© International Writers' Group. Excerpt from the Tool Kit Newsletter, a biweekly newsletter for people in the translation industry who want to get more out of their computers. For more information see

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