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How to remove dead items from Startup in Task Manager on Windows 10

The Task Manager has a useful tab called Startup. It’s a super easy way to manage which apps are allowed to run when your system starts up. Some apps add themselves to the Startup tab automatically (if you allow them to), while other apps are added to the Startup folder by users themselves. It’s easy to use and if you need to remove an item from this list completely, you can open it from the Startup tab. This works for most apps but some items that are listed can no longer be accessed. These are basically dead items that you should remove. Removing dead items from Startup won’t make your system run any faster but it’s a bit of system cleaning that’s worth doing.

Identify dead Startup item

It’s easy to identify a dead startup item. Open the Task Manager and go to the Startup tab. Right-click an item and check if the ‘Open file location’ is grayed out. If it is, this item cannot run at startup and it is essentially a dead item.

Remove dead items from Startup

In order to remove dead items from Startup, you have to edit the Windows Registry. This is complicated because you need to make sure you delete the right item from the registry. There is a lot of room for error so a much easier way to do this is with Autoruns for Windows.

Download and run Autoruns for Windows. The Everything tab will list, well, everything. Look through the list of items in yellow. The ‘Image Path’ will tell you that the file cannot be found. Each of these items will be listed with a registry path or a folder path. The registry path will likely be the following.


Items may also be listed under the following folder path.

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

Regardless, if the item is yellow, it no longer exists. Right-click it and select Delete from the context menu.

Where do dead Startup items come from?

Dead Startup items are normally apps that have been uninstalled but have left entries in the Registry. This tends to happen on occasion which is why the registry needs be edited to get rid of the item. In some cases, it might be an app that is still installed but has been updated. It may have broken the app’s Startup feature. In this case, you may have to uninstall and reinstall the app. You can try enabling the app as a startup item from its own settings.

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