Mac OS X: Setting up Login, Startup items

Login items may be chosen in the System Preferences application. Once set up, a "login item" is one that opens automatically after you log into the computer.

If you want a frequently used application, document, server's Internet Location file, or other item to open automatically after you log in to Mac OS X, then you can make it a login item.

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Mac OS X 10.3 or later

  1. Log in as the user who wishes to have a login item or as an admin user.
  2. Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  3. Choose Accounts from the View menu.
  4. Click the name of the user.
  5. Mac OS X 10.3.x: Click the Startup Items button.
    Mac OS X 10.4 or later: Click the Login Items button.
  6. Click the "Add {+}" button.

The item you selected will automatically open the next time you log in.


Mac OS X 10.2.8 or earlier

  1. Log in to Mac OS X as the user who wishes to have a login item (See tip 1).
  2. Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  3. Choose Login Items from the View menu (tip 2).
  4. Click Add.
  5. Select an application or document in the dialog box that appears.
  6. Click Add (tip 3). 

The item you selected will automatically open the next time you log in.

  1. To verify which user is logged in to Mac OS X, choose Home from the Finder's Go menu. The name of the active user appears at the top of the window. Each user has her own Login Items list. Items added to the list by one user do not automatically open when another user logs in to the computer.
  2. For Mac OS X 10.1.5 or earlier, you would choose just "Login".
  3. For Mac OS X 10.1.5 or earlier, you could click "Open".
  4. If you set up an application or file that requires a password as a Login Item, it will not open, but will appear in the dock. You must click its icon in the Dock and enter its password in order for it to finish opening. Examples of such items include certain email applications, encrypted files, and server administration applications.
  5. To set the Classic environment for automatic startup, use the Classic pane of System Preferences.
  6. The Startup Items folder in the Mac OS 9 System Folder is still used to define which Classic applications are startup items. Place an alias of a Classic application in this folder to be opened at startup of the Classic environment. The Mac OS 9 "Startup Items" folder should not be confused with the Mac OS X "StartupItems" folder. Important: Do not manually add or remove items from the StartupItems folder. This folder is for system use only. You should not modify its contents.
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