Turn Off Unneeded Login Items

Mac OS X can run applications or open files automatically when any given user logs in; items set to open in this way are called login items. (Under Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, Apple called them startup items.) You can add a login item manuallyfor example, to save yourself a click or two by making sure your email program or Web browser runs every time you log in. Numerous applications also install login itemsoften without advertising that factso that background services they rely on are always available. Examples of programs that install background-only login items are iCal, Microsoft Office, Quicken, and StuffIt Deluxe.

Login items are useful, but they can also increase the time it takes to start your Mac (or switch users). In addition, the more applications you have running at once, the greater your RAM usage and CPU load. So I recommend checking to make sure you don't have any login items you can do without.

To check your login items, follow these steps:


Go to the Accounts pane of System Preferences.


Select your account in the list on the left and click the Login Items button (Figure 2).

Figure 2. In the Login Items view, look for login items you no longer need and remove them.


Scan the list of login items for any you no longer use. If you find one, select it and click the button. (This removes the item from the list but does not delete the corresponding file from your disk.) Repeat as necessary.


If you hover your mouse pointer over an item in the Login Items list for a few seconds, a yellow tool tip appears with that item's complete path. This information may not tell you exactly what the item does, but it at least tells you where it is, which may provide important clues.

You may find a few unfamiliar items in the Login Items list that are nevertheless legitimate and useful. In particular, do not remove these items, if present:

  • iCalAlarmScheduler: Enables iCal to display alarms even when the application is not running.

  • iTunesHelper: Watches for an iPod being connected or disconnected, to help iTunes communicate with it.

  • Microsoft AU Daemon: Schedules automatic updates for Microsoft Office applications.

  • System Events: Enables AppleScript (or applications based on AppleScript) to send commands to parts of the operating system.

Real World Mac Maintenance and Backups. Industrial-Strength Techniques
Real World Mac Maintenance and Backups. Industrial-Strength Techniques
Year: 2004
Pages: 144

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