Computer Help forum

General discussion

7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files

(Note to our readers: If you are going to take on the task of editing your Windows registry, MAKE SURE back up your registry in case you do something wrong and also be that you are familiar with files you are planning to delete. You don't want to delete a file that is critical to your system; that can really wreak havoc in your computer. So be cautious and know what you are deleting before proceeding! Delete files and edit the Windows registry at your own risk. Thank you.)

Thank you Dustin and all the participants in this week?s answer!
Make sure you check out all the honorable mention below and the utility recommendations in the following posts I encourage all of you who have more tips or questions on this topic to post below. This way we can all learn more together.

Thanks again everyone!
-Lee Koo
CNET Community


How do I clear or clean out my Windows XP msconfig selection
start-up menu? There're a lot of old programs that have been
deleted off my PC that still show up there.

Submitted by Drew S. of Baltimore, Maryland


Hi Drew. This one is a piece of cake!

A word of warning first, this may require you to edit the registry. Doing this incorrectly can cause permanent damage to your operating system, and should therefore be done with extreme caution. Follow these steps to make a backup copy of your registry in case something does go wrong.

1) Click the Start Menu.
2) Go to Run.
3) Type "regedit" without the quotes, and hit enter.
4) Click the "Registry" (or "File") menu
5) Click "Export Registry File..."
6) Choose an easy to remember place to save the file and give it a name.
7) At the bottom of that box, under Export Range, are 2 buttons, click the one that says "All", and then click Save.

Now that this is done, navigate thru the Registry like you navigate your hard drive in windows explorer.

1) In the left pane, go to KEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
2) In the right pane, find the name of a program you want to remove from your msconfig (look at msconfig if need be), and click on it.
3) Hit the delete key on your keyboard, and click Yes in the resulting dialog.
4) Close MSconfig (if it is open) and then reopen it. If the file is still there it is located somewhere else, if not, repeat the above steps for the rest of the ones you want removed from msconfig.
5) If it is still there, go back to the top of the tree in the left pane (making sure you hit the - button on the left of each folder to collapse them)
6) Then go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run (note that it is local_machine now instead of current_user)
7) Find the file in the right side and delete it in the same manner as before.
Cool Close and re-open msconfig again and verify that it is gone. If not, it is in another location, so close the registry editor.

That ends the registry-editing portion. If the files you want to remove are unchecked in MSconfig, make sure to navigate to the Run- key instead of the Run key in each section of the registry to find them (local_machine and current_user)

If the file you need to remove from msconfig is not in the registry:

1) Go to your C: drive in either My Computer or Windows Explorer.
2) Navigate to C:\Documents and Settings\<your user name> \Start Menu\Programs\Startup
3) Find the file there and delete it. If it isn?t there, continue reading.
4) Go to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup and find and delete the file. If it isn?t there, keep reading.
5) Go to C:\Documents and Settings and look if there is a folder with your username (or All Users) and that has .WINNT or .WINXP on the end. If so go to either one and then Start Menu\Programs\Startup and remove the program.

If the program is unchecked in msconfig and wasn?t in the registry, change the Startup Directory mentioned above to "Disabled Startup Items", and remove the file from there. If it still shows up in MSconfig, then I cant help you, unplug the computer and walk away. Wink

Submitted by: Dustin B. of Kingwood, TX

Thank you Dustin and all the participants in this week?s answer!
Make sure you check out all the honorable mention below for utility recommendations and other great submissions. I encourage all of you who have more tips or questions on this topic to post below. This way we can all learn more together.

Thanks again everyone!
-Lee Koo
CNET Community

****** HONORABLE MENTIONS**********


Cleaning out those programs that just will not uninstall or stuck in msconfig.

Always back up your windows registry when editing the windows registry in the event you should accidently delete an entry not intended for deleting. If you are unsure, then get help; from a guru technician who is experienced in editing the windows registry.

First I have to say, that if you do not have administrator rights, you will need to contact your system administrator to gain access to the windows registry.

Now, here are ths steps to use to remove the old programs from your startup.
1. Check your startup folder for programs that my still be listed as starting up when windows starts up.
2. Check the add/remove programs menu in control panel
If there are programs that are still listed, and you know you have removed them previously, then try removing them again. If this does not work, you will need to edit the windows registry. Do not do this if you are unfamiliar with editing your windows registry.
3. Check the msconfig utility, uncheck those programs that are sitll listed. Sometimes, when you uncheck the programs the first time, they might not clear out, by unchecking them again, assuming they have not been unchecked, then restart your system.
4. If, and only if you are famailier with editing the windows registry, and you have administrator access rights, if not you will need to contact the system administrator to gain access rights.
Back up the windows registry, so if you do make a mistake and delete the wrong entry, you can reload the registry.
Complete a search the for the programs that are listed, write them down so you know what you are looking for. To complete the search, left click on edit, find, then type in the find box the program name you are looking for, then delete the program name, or press ctrl/ f keys, this will open the find box and you can continue to search for the programs(s) you are looking for.

There are some programs out there that will clean the windows registry a little simpler then trying to locate the said program individually. Regclean, Registry manager, and there are some freeware registry clean tools to clean up the registry. Go to, there a lot of registry clean up tools. Some are freeware and some are shareware with a small donation or fee.

Submitted by: Rick H.




About the question submitted by Drew S. of Baltimore, Maryland concerning MSConfig's in Windows XP, I have one solution for it, which many people might be scared of using, as it includes manually messing with the Registry, but it does work as Drew wants:

First, disable items you want to delete from the listing, or make sure they are in fact disabled, using MSConfig.

To remove entries that you want to get rid of, open the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) and go to the paths listed below. As always, it's advisable to backup the registry key before deleting anything!

Items that are disabled are listed in the registry in one of the following locations:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\startupreg

Find the key, find the specific listing for the item you want to delete, and delete it. Once you load MSConfig the next time, voil
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Utility recommendations from our members.

In reply to: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files

****** HONORABLE MENTIONS **********
Utilities recommendations by our members:

Note to our readers: Many user submissions this week included their recommendations for utilities that deal with deleting msconfig files. These program recommendations have NOT been validated by us, so please use caution and your best judgment when downloading and using these programs. Use at your own risk. Thank you

5 members recommended Startup Control Panel by Mike Lin (


Editing the registry is tricky and not recommended. Instead there is a great little (34KB) freeware program written by Mike Lin. Go to and download Startup Control Panel. It works with all versions of Windows and is very easy to use.

Submitted by: George L. of Tucson, AZ


The easiest way to remove programs from "startup" in MSCONFIG is to use a
startup editor called STARTUP CONTROL PANEL which was written by Mike Lin.
This is freeware and can be downloaded from http://www/ The other
way is to manually edit the registry which can be risky!

Submitted by: Claude E. Walnut, CA

Personally, I am using the Startup Control Panel at since years.
It is the best program I have found so far to control startup items and it
comes as a control panel applet or an exe file. You can disable, enable,
move, edit, delete and create new items as well as start a program on the
spot. Handy for the power user if you stopped a running background task that
was started from the registry on boot and you need to re-start it.

Mark K.

Submitted by: Mark K.



The best way to control your startup items that start with your computer is through a freeware program called ?Startup Control Panel?.
A quick search at google will reveal it as the first returned item. The program itself is extremely light weight and if memory serves correctly is less than 100kb in size. It comes in two versions, one that integrates with the control panel and a stand alone version.
I use the control panel one simply because the program is so amazing and such a useful tool. After installing any software I usually make this my next port of call to make sure the program has not set itself up to boot with windows or do anything else that would compromise the performance of my PC.

Once you are in the software it is extremely simple to use and breaks down all the items that boot with your computer into the 5 sections that they can be loaded from on your PC.
Items can simply be unchecked to disable them or deleted to stop them booting again.
An extremely nice feature of this program however is that it has it?s own ?recycle bin? for all deleted items so that even after you delete an item, it keeps a record of it so the deleted item can be restored easily in the event of any problems.
Items can also be easily moved between the different loading points easily so you can change a program from being loaded up by the ?Startup? folder in windows and instead move it so it is loaded from the registry.

Overall the program is fast powerful and compact and easy to use for both beginners and experts alike and does exactly what it is meant to do perfectly.

In five years I have yet to find a better program for the task.

Submitted by: Nila


There is an application that i install on every computer I work on. It's a freeware program, small, thin and incorporates itself into the control panel as if it had alwas been there. It's Mike Lin's "Startup Control Panel" you can download it from his web site, with the direct link to the file being Alternately, you could use a program like TweakUI for XP but that program and others like it are overkill for achieving what should be a very basic task. Startup Control Panel allopws you to see what is registered to start under each different registered autostart type on your computer, and lets you either just temporarily disable those items or remove them altogether. It also allows you to add new items TO autostart or launch anything in these sections on demand.
It works just as well on all versions of Windoww from 95 to XP. When used in conjunction with his also free plug-in "Startup Monitor", which will warn you if any application tries to register itself to autostart at boot, you can have full control of what runs when your computer starts.

Submitted by: Father Storm



know this isn't the fancy schmancy answer you are looking for but this works. Go to, download the FREE program Startup Mechanic, open it on your computer, do the scan and start cleaning it up. This is a useful program. After downloading upgrades for Instant Messengers or browsers or music downloaders it is good to check if anything new is in the start up area. Start up mechanic will not stop anything from working it only stops things from loading on startup. I know it is not what you want but this is the solution.
Sincerely from,
Jim F.

Submitted by: Jim F.



RE: Clean up MSConfig records

The easiest way I know of to cleanup up the mess MSConfig makes is with a program called 'XQ-Setup.' It can be downloaded at CNet's or from it's own website ( With this program you can temporarily disable any programs that are started via the registry or take them out of the registry startup list altogether, including those that have been disabled by MSConfig.

Once you've cleaned up the list of files loaded by the registry, use XQ-Setup instead of MSConfig to disable, enable, or delete programs started by the registry. It also has an array of other XP 'tweaks' and it's user-friendly interface make it more useable than other XP 'tweaking' programs.

Submitted by: David



To solve the problem of not only cleaning out Windows XP misconfig selection start-up menu, but basically cleaning your entire computer of junk, visit the site below for a program called "CCleaner". Out of all the freeware I've tried/used in the past, this is the most amzing and time saving program I've ran into. The best allows you to review everything selected as junk before deleting. Even allows you to save the registry in case you delete something that later causes problems. I know alot of folks are aware of the program because it's on just about every XP forum that I've visited. This is primarily for those that do not know of the program. Hope it helps.

Ben S.

Submitted by: Ben S.



One good and safe way to clean out Windows XP is a small downloadable program
called REGSCRUBXP by Lexun freeware. It searches out the registry file in XP in
search of unused or incomplete files and will repair or delete them.

Submitted by: Jose S.

Collapse -
Stop them before they end up on your startup menu!

In reply to: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files

Mike Lin, a gifted programmer of many fine utilities, created Startup Monitor, that allows you control of what is on the startup section of msconfig. I've been using it almost since it was written, and it keeps my startup lean and mean. Mike offers it for free at his homepage at, along with a host of other goodies. If I reinstall my operating system, it is usually the first program I install. One will need to use a little sense with temp, runonce, and various dll files, but most CNet readers are sophisticated enough to know what is necessary and what is not. Startup Monitor pretty much prevents the need to edit the registry. Thanks to Mike for such a good little program.

Marti Coley

Collapse -
Re: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files

In reply to: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files


First I would go to "Accessories" "System Tools" "System Restore" and create a "System Restore" point.

Then I would perform the removal of the lines in the "System Configuration Utility" by going to "Run" and type "Msconfig" and taking the check mark off the program I wanted to delete in Windows XP Pro.

Go to "Start" "Run" "Regedit"

Click on "File" at the top left of the windows and Click "Export". You will asked for folder and a file name for the registry backup. There is a radio button for "All" or "Select Branch" in the "Export Range". Make sure the "All" has a dot in the center". I would give the file a common name to remember so if I had to do a "Search" for the file to restore my registry I would be able to find it. Leave the file extension .reg alone.

Now some has indicated that they would proceed to certain parts of the registry and do this and that, however the best way I have found to edit the registry to make sure all entries to the program is deleted. So I to make sure I have the "My Computer" highlighted and then click on "Edit" "Find" then "Find What" and type in the name of the program like "American Online", "AOL", "ICQ", etc. From there I keep hitting the "F3" key, checking the entry and hitting the "Delete" key until I delete everything that I find pertaining to any of the entries. This way I am sure that I have everything pertaining to that entry deleted. By first doing a "System Restore Point" and backing up the all of the registry if I have a problem then I can restore the registry and go back to the "System Restore Point" and start over and correct my mistake. I have done this some make time to make a system response fast that I might try to do it with my eyes close one time to see what mistakes I make. I have never had a problem with the system not coming back up or getting an error message. This is just my 2 cent so if you want to try it then goes ahead. As they say when you download a device driver, "Do It At Your Own Rick". I have downloaded mamy device driver without any problems.

Collapse -
Re: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files

In reply to: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files

Although the question was not addressing this, I thought it important and especially when messing with the registry. I feel that "restoring" the registry should have been mentioned, in case a mess was made. Win Xp has a restore located in --> Start --> All Programs --> Accessories --> System Tools, and then click on System Restore. On the Welcome page, click Restore my computer to an earlier time (usuall already selected), and then click Next. On the "Select a Restore Point" page, click the most recent system checkpoint in the On this list, click a restore point list, and then click Next. You may see a messag that lists changes System Restore will make. Click "OK." On the Confirm Restore Point Selection page, click Next. System Restore will now restore the previous configuration and restart the computer.
After the system reboots, the "Restoration Complete" page appears. So what happens if you restore to a point you didn't want? Follow the above steps and in the System Restore page select "Undo my last restoration". And follow the remaining steps. As a final note, I should add that should XP not want to start, then you can load the command prompt and restore the registry that way by doing the following: Restart your computer and hold down F8. This will restart your computer in safe mode with a command prompt. Type the following (not including quotes): "%systemroot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe" By following the simple instructions and restarting, your computer should now boot fine.
Hope this helps.

Collapse -
(NT) Any one know if it work this way with Windows ME?

In reply to: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files


Collapse -
Re: (NT) Any one know if it work this way with Windows ME?

In reply to: (NT) Any one know if it work this way with Windows ME?

Win98 and ME do automated backups of the registry. If something goes wrong, you can usually restart the computer and the registry will revert back to the previous settings. If you need to manually restore it, you would need a boot disk for ME. You can make one by clicking Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs -> Startup Disk and following the prompts, but I would suggest you make one before something bad happens. After that, you can boot the computer and type, (not including quotes): "scanreg /restore"
Hope this helps.

Collapse -
(NT) Thanks for the adviso.

In reply to: Re: (NT) Any one know if it work this way with Windows ME?


Collapse -
Win 98 users have an extra step

In reply to: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files

As a Win98 user, I was able to follow those instructions with no
problem. BUT, I still had unchecked items in my msconfig startup
section. I did a massive find-search for some of the file names, and found
that Win98 has a file folder that has items included in the msconfig
startup screen.

C:\WINDOWS\Start Menu\Programs\Disabled Startup Items

Only when I deleted those items did my msconfig-startup screen finally
clear up.

One hint, all of the items in the msconfig-startup screen that were stored
in the registry, were in quote marks. The items stored in the disabled
startup items folder did not have quote marks.

Hope it helps,

Collapse -
Re: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files

In reply to: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files

When we're cleaning up msconfig startup junk let's not forget the startup folder, win.ini, and system.ini all of which are read by msconfig and all of which can have startup files.

We go so easily to the registry now that some of the malware authors have started to use the ini files to hide their handiwork.

Collapse -
Re: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files

In reply to: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files

I have been reading the answers for the REGISTRY/SYSTEM CLEAN & the "HOW TOs."
Does this cleaning of the registry also apply to WINDOWS 98 systems as well, or is this only for cleaning of the XP versions? How do I clean my registry (for old programs) in the startup menu for my Windows 98 version? Thank you much!

Collapse -
Re: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files

In reply to: 7/02/04 Cleaning out those unwanted msconfig files


Popular Forums

Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Sublime suburban chariot

High on style and technology, the 2019 Volvo XC90 is an incredibly satisfying everyday crossover.