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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.

4 Answers 4

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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, 2012 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, 2012 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, 2012 at 9:02
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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, 2016 at 20:23
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    The configuration location for launchd is /private/var/db/launchd.db/ To list all entries in the various .plist files that create hidden overrides: sudo find /private/var/db/launchd.db/ -type f -size +0 -iname "*.plist" -exec sudo plutil -p {} \;
    – iolsmit
    Jun 15, 2017 at 0:14
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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, 2014 at 2:31
  • Some login items are here. There are others in other places. Dec 30, 2021 at 15:13
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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, 2013 at 11:18
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use

  • 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, 2016 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, 2016 at 12:05

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