How to Launch Application on System Start in Mac OS X
Mac users may find it helpful to automatically launch an application upon system start of OS X. Basically this means as soon as the Mac is done booting, the approved auto-launch apps will open themselves once the user has logged into the Mac and the OS X desktop has displayed. You can add as many apps as you want to the automatic launch list, but it’s best to use this feature prudently so you don’t needlessly slow down the boot time of the computer.
We will show you how to launch applications on system start of OS X, and also how to remove Mac apps from the automatic launch list.
You can choose any application to launch automatically on system startup of OS X with this trick. Generally speaking, this is most appropriate for helper applications and small apps that are frequently used.
How to Automatically Open an Application on Startup of Mac OS X
- Launch into your OS X System Preferences ( Apple Menu -> System Preferences) and choose “Users & Groups” (or on prior versions of OS X, click on the “Accounts” icon)
- Now visit the “Login Items” tab, and click the “+” icon in the lower corner – OR – drag and drop the Application to launch on startup into this Login Items screen
- Now you’ll see the Applications folder contents in front of you, simply scroll through and select the application you want to load on start, and click “Add” to choose that app to open on startup of the Mac
Once you’ve set up your automatic apps to open on startup and login, you’re done and can close out of System Preferences. It’s that simple, those apps which are in the Login Items list will open themselves immediately upon system start.
Another method is to launch an application, and right-click or control-click on it’s icon in the Dock, selecting “Open at Login”. This will add it to the Login Items list automatically.
This can be a very convenient feature, though it can also slow down Mac startup, so be cautious of adding too many applications to this list.
You can also use this Login Items list to automatically connect to network drives on login and startup of OS X using a two-step process, or an Automator mounting script.
Removing an Application from Automatic Start List of OS X
Decided you don’t want an app to open itself on startup of OS X? That’s ok, this is easy to undo:
- Back in the System Preferences for “Users & Groups”, go to Login Items again
- Select the app you want to stop launching at login, click on it, and then hit the Delete key, or hit the Minus [-] button to remove it form the automatic login list
- Close out of System Preferences of OS X
Do note that if you uninstall a Mac application it will be removed from the startup list as well, though sometimes a helper item can lag behind.
Changes are immediate again, but ultimately take effect on next boot, login, or startup. You can remove any application from launching at login by clicking on the “-” icon. For troubleshooting purposes, or to just quickly speed up a Macs startup time, you can also temporarily disable the OS X login items by holding the Shift key at the right time.
This feature is in all versions of OS X, from Yosemite, Mavericks, Mountain Lion, Snow Leopard, Tiger, you name it, it’s there, and has been around since the earliest days of Mac OS X, but old habits can be tough to break. I recently had someone complain to me that they can’t figure out how to launch an application on boot in Mac OS X, they said “it was so easy in Mac OS 9, you just dropped an alias in the Startup folder and it was done.” Yes, it was very easy in Mac OS 9, but it is just as easy in Mac OS X if you know where to look. Now I know some of you are saying this is super simple stuff, but to someone who hasn’t done it or set this up before, it’s only simple after they’ve been shown how to launch apps on startup like this.