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How to manage startup programs on Ubuntu Linux



Ubuntus Focal Fossa logo from desktop background.

Many applications start automatically when you log into your Linux desktop. You may also want to add your own favorite programs to the startup process. Here’s how to control what Ubuntu starts when you log in.

We went through this process on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS with its standard GNOME desktop. The steps are similar in other Linux distributions with a GNOME desktop, but you may need to use a different configuration tool in other desktop environments.

How to start the GNOME Startup Manager

To start the Startup Manager, open the application list by clicking the “Show Applications”

; button in the dash in the lower left corner of your screen. Find the Startup Applications tool and launch it.

Start the startup application tool on Ubuntu.

You can also press Alt + F2 to open the Run Command dialog box and run the following command:

gnome-session-properties

Start gnome-session-properties from the dialog box

If for some reason the Start Tool doesn’t appear in your application menu, you can open a terminal window and start it with the following command:

sudo apt install gnome-startup-applications

Install the GNOME Startup Applications tool on Ubuntu.

How to prevent programs from starting automatically on Ubuntu

The Startup Application Settings window opens. You will see a list of programs that start automatically when you log into your graphical desktop. Each application has a name and, optionally, a description.

To prevent a program from starting automatically, just uncheck the box to the left of the program. Programs that are not activated are not loaded at startup.

You can also select a program and click “Remove” to remove it from the list here. However, if you disable the program, the same thing will be achieved – and it will be easier to enable the launcher again in the future if you want.

Disabling a launcher on Ubuntu.

If you are not sure what a program is, you can search for its name on the web. For example if you are looking for im-launchYou will find that this is the command that launches all of the required input methods.

You can also select a program and click Edit to see the full command that will run when you log in.

Editing a launcher on the Ubuntu GNOME desktop.

How to add your own startup programs on Ubuntu

To add a launcher, you need to know its full path. You can find this with the which Command in a terminal window.

Let’s say you want to run Firefox. First, start a terminal window and run the following command:

which firefox

You will be informed that the Firefox binary is located at /usr/bin/firefox . This is the path you need to enter in the Command field in the Add Launcher window.

To run

In the Startup Application Settings window, click the Add button and, in the Command box, type the full path to the program you want to start.

You should also enter a name for the program and optionally a comment. These two fields only appear in the Startup Application Settings window.

Adding a custom launcher on Ubuntu.

When you’re done, click “Add”. Your custom launcher will be displayed here. As long as it has a check box and appears in this list, the GNOME desktop will launch it every time you log into Ubuntu.

Firefox as a custom startup application on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.


By the way, many applications that launch at startup have a built-in option to change this. For example, you can prevent Dropbox from automatically starting on Linux by using the options window, just as you would on Windows and Mac.

However, the Startup Application Preferences tool lets you see everything your desktop opens automatically and control it from one place.




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