Starting with Windows 95, Microsoft made adding programs to the startup folder as easy as navigating to the folder in Windows Explorer and dragging shortcuts or programs directly into it.

The startup folder, conveniently shown on the Start Menu, made it easy to see which programs would launch when Windows booted up. However, in Windows 7, the startup folder is a hidden system folder that is not located in the same place as the startup folders in Windows XP.

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    This article shows you an easy way to add programs to the Windows 7 startup folder for both the current user and all users of the computer.

    Suppose that you have Microsoft Word pinned to your Start Menu and you want Word to open up each time Windows 7 loads. The easiest way to do this is to add a shortcut to Word into the startup folder.

    However, you can add Word to the startup folder for just the current user or for anyone who uses your computer. Below are instructions for both using Word as an example.

    Whether you are adding Word to the startup folder for the current user or for all users, it is best to begin by putting a shortcut to Word on the desktop. Before you begin, make sure you are using an account with administrative privileges in Windows 7.

    To create a shortcut on the desktop, right-click drag the program icon from the Start Menu onto the desktop and select Create Shortcut Here from the menu that pops up when you let go of the right mouse button.

    Create a Shortcut to Word on the Desktop

    The Startup Folder for the Current User

    Now you simply need to add the new shortcut you just placed on the desktop into the current user’s startup folder. However, remember that in Windows 7, the startup folder is a hidden system folder. Rather than unhide the folder and fumble around the Windows folder structure to find it, Microsoft made it simple to locate the startup folder.

    To locate the current user’s startup folder, click on Start>All Programs and then right click on the Startup folder. Then, choose open from the menu.

    Click Open on the Startup Folder

    This will instantly open Windows Explorer directly to the current user’s startup folder. Notice that the startup folder for the current user resides at:

    C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

    Add Word to the Current User's Startup Folder

    Simply drop the new shortcut from the desktop into this folder and restart your computer. Word should now load at Windows boot up.

    The Startup Folder for All Users

    If you want Word to load for everyone when Windows boots up, you need to follow a similar set of instructions with one minor change. Begin by clicking on Start>All Programs and right-click on the Startup folder just as before. However, this time instead of choosing Open, choose Open all users.

    Click Open All Users on the Startup Folder

    Windows Explorer once again opens, but this time the location is:

    C:\Program Data\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

    You can now simply drag the new Word shortcut into this folder and Word will load on boot up for all users of your computer.

    Unlike Windows XP, Windows 7 makes the startup folder for all users of the computer a hidden system folder. Rather than go through the trouble of locating and un-hiding  the startup folder, use the tricks in this article to add any program to the startup menu for the current user or all users of a Windows 7 computer. Enjoy!