I have a number of (background) programs that startup automatically on login even though they have been disabled (unchecked) on the Login Items pane of the Users & Groups System Preferences. Examples include DropBox, ChronoSync Backgrounder, and Boingo.

Q: How can I disable/control these login items that don't respond to the systems preferences settings? Related sub-questions:

  • Why do the checkboxes in the login items list not work?
  • What are all of the places that non-system startup items can be found/controlled?

Current system configuration: MacBook (13in Aluminum, Late 2008), Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3 (11D50), But this problem existed on Snow Leopard before upgrading to Lion.

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The checkboxes are not for disabling the application launch, but if checked, the application gets hidden as if you were pressing CMD+H. To disable it, select it in the list and click on the Minus-button beneath that list. By that you remove them. You can't just disable them with OS X tools.

To see a summary of all LaunchAgents and LaunchDaemons you can use a software like Lingon or you can have a look at /Library/LaunchDaemons, /Library/LaunchAgents, /System/Library/LaunchAgents, and /System/Library/LaunchDaemons as well as ~/Library/LaunchDaemons, ~/Library/LaunchAgents, ~/Library/StartupItems, and /Library/StartupItems.

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    Don't forget that items to run on startup can also live in ~/Library/Startup Items and /Library/Startup Items. – binarybob Mar 5 '12 at 9:01
  • Oh yes, silly me. There is a little label that says Hide above the column. I've now cleaned up my startup items. Thanks. – Bryan P Mar 5 '12 at 9:01
  • @binarybob Thanks for the tip on other places to look. I did find a few other unwanted items in /Library/Startup Items – Bryan P Mar 5 '12 at 9:02
  • And yet... com.getdropbox.dropbox.plist doesn't live in any of these directories. Where is it??! – Michael Jul 14 '14 at 2:30
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    Worth noting - if you have items in LaunchAgents or LaunchDaemons folders, these commands operate on those files: Stop this service once (will come back next log-on ) launchctl unload /path/to/LaunchAgents/file.plist Stop this service and disable it launchctl unload -w /path/to/LaunchAgents/file.plist Start this service once launchctl load /path/to/LaunchAgents/file.plist Start this service and enable it: launchctl load -w /path/to/LaunchAgents/file.plist – XP84 Mar 15 '16 at 20:23

All login items are can be found under System Preferences → Users & Groups → User → Login Items which you have correctly noticed.

  • If you want to disable a startup item you have to remove it.
  • The checkboxes are merely for hiding.
  • Note: Some applications need their auto-login option to be disabled in their applications' preferences.

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    Where are the plist files for these items? I want to edit, not remove, but the plist I am looking for is not in any of the standard directories. – Michael Jul 14 '14 at 2:31

To remove BT cloud from login items search: for file 'com.f-secure.sync.BTCloud.plist' from one of the startup directories and delete file.

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    What is BTCloud? – bmike Jun 12 '13 at 11:18


  • launchctl list to check the configured start up items.
  • launchctl print-cache to see current running config which help to locate started process.
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    A bit more details might be helpful here: How do these commands help to solve the problem stated in the question (what does the OP need to look for in the output)? – nohillside Jul 25 '16 at 6:38
  • Welcome to Ask Different. It's helpful when you provide an explanation on how/why you think your answer is correct. Take a moment to review the Tour for more info. – Allan Jul 25 '16 at 12:05

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