Windows 10 Programs and Apps Self-starting after Reboot

This one’s a bit of a curate’s egg from Microsoft

Windows Restarting ScreenIn an update sometime during the last year, Microsoft introduced a “feature” whereby starting or restarting your computer causes some programs and apps that were open at the time of shutdown to automatically open again. This is new behaviour. We have always taken it for granted that Windows computers “start clean”.

I can see two major problems with this behaviour:

  • The very reason that the reboot was initiated might have been to clear everything out of memory, particularly when something has gone wrong and you want to start again with a clean sheet. A misbehaving program could misbehave again if automatically reopened
  • Since not all programs/apps are restarted upon re-boot, you have to engage brain and look to see if what you want next has, in fact, reopened. To my mind, it’s easier to just assume that you will have to re-open all required programs after a reboot.

Windows10 - close with Alt F4
Closing or restarting with Alt F4 will ensure all programs are closed first.
I can’t find a direct quote, but, apparently, Microsoft’s advice to obviate these problems is to make sure that you manually close each program in turn before restarting. So, this curate’s egg is also something of a tail wagging the dog. Being forced to perform extra tasks just because of the introduction of a dubious new “feature” is ridiculous. I often think that the people who design this stuff forget that most of the people who use it are doing so because it’s a useful tool. We don’t want to be dictated to by it and it should be as simple as possible to use.

If you find that this “feature” is annoying you, there is a slightly quicker way of having a clean start without having to manually go through each program, laboriously closing everything before a reboot.

  • Go to the desktop, clicking on a blank part to ensure that it has the focus. The quickest way to get to the desktop is to minimise all open windows by hitting the windows key plus the letter “m”
  • Press the Alt key plus the F4 key to bring up the “Shut Down Windows” box
  • Select your option from the dropdown menu

Shutting down by this method will ensure that all open programs are closed first.

Close button
Creating your own “close” button can ensure that all programs are closed before closing Windows
An alternative to this is to create your own “shutdown” button as detailed in my blog post “A small victory – two clicks saved“. Shutting down in this way will also give you a “clean start” on re-boot.

Note that nothing here affects the automatic starting of items listed in your “start menu”. They will still be opened on re-boot, irrespective of which method you use to close the machine. For detailed information on how to open specific programs on every startup (irrespective of whether they had been open at the time of the previous shutdown), see my blog post “Windows 10 – Start Programs at Startup