How to unblock blocked startup items in Vista


If you’ve ever encountered a blocked startup app in Vista and would like a work-around that can bypass it then read on.

This posting will describe how to launch an app on startup as a scheduled task, which will circumvent the startup apps list altogether. Ultimately you will be able to get your app to launch without seeing the notice in the screenshot and without having to shut down Vista’s User Account Control security infrastructure.

I recently needed to find a way around Vista’s blocking of my favorite desktop search app (Everything) which launches as a startup entry on my Windows XP machine but is perpetually blocked on startup on my wife’s Vista laptop.

I was somewhat surprised to find that there was no easy way to simply override this and enable the item on startup. This is because of Windows Vista’s “User Account Control” (UAC) security infrastructure; and although it is possible to disable the UAC, this is not at all recommended.

There is, however, a relatively simple method to get any app to launch on startup using Windows’ task scheduling feature. (A number of interventions that are mentioned on the internet that will NOT work, including allowing the program on Windows’ firewall.)

For the purposes of this post I will use the example of the “Everything” app mentioned above. The way we will do this is to remove the app from the startup items and schedule it to launch on log-on using Windows Vista’s task scheduler.

Step by step:

First we will remove the app from the startup items (“everything.exe” in this example). You can do this using some startup items’ management utilities or manually as follows:

  1. Click on Vista’s start menu, and type “run” in the search box. Select the “run” program which should appear as the first entry in the set of results:
  2. In the Run program dialog, type “msconfig” and press enter.
  3. Once the system configuration program shows up, click on the “startup” tab. Find your app in the list (“everything.exe” in this example) and uncheck the box next to it so it no longer starts with windows. Note the path to the app, as you will need it later. Also note any arguments (“-startup” in this case). Click “Ok” to close; if you are prompted to restart the computer select “exit without restart” and continue with the steps below.

Next, we will need to create a scheduled event that will launch the app on logon, as follows:

  1. Launch Vista’s “Task Scheduler” app. An easy way to do this is to type “task scheduler” in the search box in Vista’s start menu, then select “task scheduler” which should appear as the first entry in the set of results.
  2. Once launched, click on “Create Task” in the right pane.
  3. In the “general” tab, enter a name for your task and (optionally) a description. Click on “Run only when user is logged on” and check “Run with highest privileges”.6_task_general_tab
  4. Next go to the “triggers” tab and click the “new” button to create a new trigger.
  5. Once the “new trigger” dialog appears select “At logon” from the dropdown, “any user” in the settings, and “enabled” in the advanced settings.8_task_trigger_tab
  6. Go to the “Actions” tab and click the “New..” button
  7. In the “Edit Action” dialog that appears, select “Start a program” from the actions dropdown. Click “browse” and browse to your desired app, then type in any arguments in the “add arguments” field. Remember that this (the path to your app and any arguments used) is simply re-stating the path and arguments from step #3 above.
  8. Go to the “Settings” tab. Make sure that the following are checked: “Allow task to be run on demand” , and “Run task as soon as possible after a scheduled start is missed”. If “stop the task if it runs longer than” is checked then uncheck it.
  9. [This step only relevant on laptops]. Go to the “Conditions” tab and uncheck “Start the task only if the computer is on AC power”. (Unless you want the task to only start if the computer is plugged in, inwhich case keep it checked).
  10. Click “Ok” then exit the Task Scheduler. Restart the computer or log off/log on.

That’s it! The next time you log on your app will launch without the dreaded (“Windows blocked some startup programs” message).