One of my biggest pet peeves is Windows software that doesn’t run need to run all the time, but still feels the need to put some crappy icon in the system tray. Honestly, folks, there’s not much legitimate reason for Real Player and Quicktime to have components that start up every time I run my computer. To me, adding an unnecessary icon to my system tray is only slightly more polite than taking a dump on my front porch.
Mike Lin has written two great apps to help with this. One’s called Startup Control Panel, which provides a quick interface to view (and optionally remove) all of the things that start up when you log in. There are a half dozen places in the registry that do this, so it’s great to have them all together like this. I was amazed to find programs in there for about 8 shareware programs that I tried once and never used again.
Once you’re clean, you can stay that way with Startup Monitor, a very tiny app that runs in the background and lets you know when a program is trying to put more crap in your startup, and gives you the option of preventing it.
These apps probably aren’t for novice users, as some of these programs may not run well without their startup components, but geeks will appreciate the convenience.
Check out some of the other programs on Mike Lin’s site while you’re there. Mike is apparently an evil genius, and has concocted quite a few small, light apps that address some of Windows’ niggling little annoyances.