How to automatically launch programs when OS X starts

As more folks switch from Windows to OS X, I find myself getting asked questions along the lines of “how do I do xyz like I did in Windows?”. One of those questions is “I can’t find a ‘start at login’ preference in xyz program, how do I get it to start automatically when OS X boots?” Well, it’s actually pretty easy..

Many OS X programs include a “start at login” feature somewhere in their preferences. Some do not. For those that don’t, follow the instructions outlined below.

  1. Simply right-click (ctrl-click for you single mouse button folks) the program in your dock and select Open at Login
  2. You can also have a program launch at boot but have it kept “hidden”. To do this, select the Apple button from your menu bar and choose System Preferences…. Then click Accounts.

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  4. Select your account from the left column, and then choose Login Items from the top menu. Scroll down to the program you want to open hidden, and place a check in the box labeled Hide. It should be noted that this doesn’t actually always work. The example I used was, and it never starts hidden. With that said, it works for most programs.

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