Today, I noticed that there were several "login items" that I'm 99.99999% certain I did not add. I figure those items added themselves when I installed them (they were probably installations that required authentication).

Of course, I can always check "login items" every time that I install an app (if the installer asked for authentication), but I'd prefer to lock "login items" altogether. Is that possible?

2 Answers 2



if you do a get info on the ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginitems.plist file and tick the lock checkbox.

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No changes will be written to the file. Therefor on next login there will be no additions.

I just tested this and it worked. But cannot guarantee that this may or may not be a good thing to do. I my self will use my Answer below.

You can set a launchAgent to watch for changes on the ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginitems.plist file

In my example here I use a launchAgent to watch for the change and then run a command to notify me. In this case I use the command tool growlnotify

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
        <string>login items change</string>
        <string>login items change</string>

I actually made this using lingon which take some of the pain out of making launchAgent.

The command I run is :/usr/local/bin/growlnotify -n "login items change" -m "login items have been changed" -s

Note this is a simple example. And you should remember that any changes may take a short while to be written to the plist. But my tests have shown it to work.

  • Updated my answer
    – markhunte
    Mar 10, 2013 at 18:56
  • did you mean "launchAgent", not "lunchAgent"?
    – kjo
    Mar 11, 2013 at 17:13
  • lol. Clearly I was thinking of food at the time..
    – markhunte
    Mar 11, 2013 at 17:33
  • This worked for me, but I noticed that after running the offending app, it would initially appear under "login items" until I restarted my machine.
    – Stan James
    Dec 12, 2015 at 19:00
  • 2
    My Mac doesn't have a ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginitems.plist item. Granted this answer is six years old. There is a ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow.plist item?
    – 2540625
    Mar 23, 2019 at 0:45

A simple solution:

Add that application to your dock. Right click on the dock icon -> options -> uncheck "open at Login".

If you don't want the application on your dock afterward, just drag it off.

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