Auto-open at login

Dock showing menu to set up auto-open at login

Even if – like me – you seldom turn your Mac off, power-cuts or problems sometimes necessitate a restart. Wouldn’t it be good, then, if, when starting up, your Mac automatically opened apps, files and folders that you constantly use so that you don’t have to do it manually?

It can! Here’s how.

Click  System Preferences and then Users & Groups. (On pre-Mavericks versions of OS X it will simply be called ‘Users’).

System Prefs window.
To turn on auto-open at login for files and folders, go to System Preferences, Users & Groups to activate the feature.

Click the Login Items tab (called Startup Items in older versions of OS X).

Login Items window within System Prefs.
Drag stuff into the Login Items window (or click + to add them) to make them auto-open.

To add folders, files or apps to auto-open at login, you can either drag and drop an item into the right-hand window (into any text-free bit of space), or you can find the item by locating it in the directory of your Mac that is summoned up if you click the + button. Either way, your item will now appear in the list. Naturally, selecting an item and clicking on the minus sign will remove the item from the list if you change your mind or add the wrong thing. Dont worry! It won’t delete anything from your Mac!

Observant readers will have noticed a ‘Hide’ column in the items window. Tick this if you’d like the app or file to open but not appear onscreen until you summon it (with, say, a click on its shortcut on the Desktop or in the Dock). This keeps your Desktop clear, but the app or folder is ready and waiting for action.

Login Items window in System Prefs showing the 'Hide' feature activated.
Turn on ‘Hide’ so that your auto-opened stuff doesn’t clutter your Desktop until you summon it with a click.

If an app you wish to auto-open happens to have a shortcut on your Desktop or in the Dock, the process is even easier. Simply right-click the app or folder’s icon in the Dock and select Options, Open at Login. A tick will appear to show you the feature is activated. Obviously, if you change your mind, repeating the process deactivates auto-open. NOTE: Only apps can be set up to auto-open on login; files, folders and external drives need to be set up using the System Preferences method, above.

Whilst you’re in the Login Items preference pane, it’s a good idea to check that there’s nothing in the auto-open at login list that you haven’t put there. Sometimes apps you install turn auto-open on by default without you realising it, and this can be annoying or slow things down.

On Macs with more than one user, each can have their own auto-open settings by selecting themeselves in the list on the right of the Login Items preference pane. Password will be required.

So there you have it. It’s not rocket science and it won’t rock your world, but this little tip can save you time and clicks.

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