How to set applications to automatically launch at startup

Do you find yourself always opening certain applications and programs as soon as your Mac boots? While placing these app icons in your dock is one shortcut you can take, there’s actually a way to cut the process down one more step—you can designate certain apps to automatically launch when you log onto your Mac profile. It’s very easy, and requires a one-time change.

These steps were performed using OS X Lion, but are the same for previous versions of OS X as well.

Option 1: Pick apps from your dock

If your favorite apps are already in your dock—either as a permanent fixture or because the app is in use—right click (or hold Control and click) on the icon. If the app isn’t in use, you’ll see a menu with three items. If the app is in use, the steps are the same, but you’ll see a few more menu options. Click Options, and then select Open at Login.

Set apps to launch straight from your dock.
Set apps to launch straight from your dock.

Option 2: Select several apps at once and edit launch settings

Alternatively, you can pick a bunch of apps and edit their launch settings for specific user profiles. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner, and open System Preferences. Under the System header, click on Users and Groups.

Find the Group or Profile you’d like to set apps to launch, then toggle Login Items. That screen will show a list of items that are already scheduled to launch when you log in.

If you’d like to add more—or remove some—click the plus sign to launch Finder, select the app, then select Add. If you want the app to run but remain hidden on your desktop, check the Hide box.

You can change these settings at any time by going back into your System Preferences.

[Leah Yamshon is a Macworld assistant editor.]

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