Like previous versions of Windows, XP includes a startup folder. Its purpose: any program that has a shortcut stored in this folder will start automatically when a user logs on.
Actually, two startup folders influence logon behavior. One is set for the current user logging onto the system and the other is used for all users. When XP starts up, it examines the All Users Start Menu folder and launches those programs for which there are shortcuts. It then looks at the current user's startup folder, launching those applications as well. Figure 3-5 shows the contents of the startup folder that affect all users on my machine. A similar folder is stored as a part of every user's profile, which is stored under the Documents and Settings folder.
Figure 3-5. Any shortcut in Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup affects all users.
Even though Windows stores the contents of the two startup folders as separate entities, it displays them both in a single Start Menu item: Startup. For a quick glance at what's starting for the current user, click Start | All Programs | Startup.
You can add applications to the startup folder(s) by simply dragging and dropping their program shortcuts to this folder. Again, you can do this on a per-user basis, or configure the same startup programs for all users of the machine.
Let's say, for example, that you wanted Microsoft Outlook to launch automatically each time your Windows XP Home machine boots up. Additionally, you only want Outlook to launch for yourselfthere's no need for it to open when the kids are logging on to do their homework. To meet your objective, you simply create a shortcut to Microsoft Outlook in your profile's Start Menu folder. Just follow these steps:
Be mindful, though, not to create the shortcut in the All Users folder as outlined previously, or else the kids' logons will cause Outlook to open as well.