How To

How to stop Mac apps from automatically opening

Trevor Hutchins


If you have this problem, it’s either really annoying or getting to that point: you open up your Mac laptop, and that app (for us, it was Adobe Acrobat) pops up again. While it doesn’t ruin your whole day, the event brings your momentum to a halt and derails your thought process. Every day. For months. Eventually, we asked: is there an easy way to solve it?


Oh yeah. There sure was! Let’s get right in and talk about how to…

 Stop Mac apps from automatically opening

The quick and easy way

While this route usually works, you may want to check the full list of programs that open automatically from the settings. Still, if you want to go through this quickly…

Right-click the application in question, either from the Finder menu or the App Dock. Once you have the information menu open, head into the Options bar and visit the “Open at Login” choice. If there’s a checkmark beside it, click the tab to turn off that function. Boom! Easy as that:

First Option

The surefire way

If you want to make sure this doesn’t happen again and check for any other programs that are opening when your Mac starts up, follow these comprehensive steps:

Step 1: Go to Settings

Pro tip: there are two ways to find this. For the longest time, we’ve used the System Settings app in our dock:


ToolbarHowever, you can also visit your Mac’s info tab, which generally is found at the top left of the screen. From there, choose System Settings in the drop-down menu:


If you’re dying to clear up space in the dock, you can delete the app and use this shortcut instead! It’s just a suggestion, of course. If your dock looks fine or if you enjoy the shortcut too much, by all means, keep it around.

Step 2: Get to users and groups

Here’s where we get tripped up: to make the settings easy to understand, Apple combined apps in different categories. However, sometimes the specific function you’re searching for isn’t in an intuitive place.

We spent a good amount of time searching through Security and Privacy (we’ll bring this up again later when discussing app permissions) when the real tools were located in Users and Groups:

Groups and SuchStep 3: Go to login items

Within Users and Groups, you’ll want to choose the subtab for “Login Items,” the codename for apps-that-open-always. From here, you can choose to delete them from the list! Simply select the offending app, and click the minus button (-) below the box.

The Goods
(Safari added for example)

We were able to alter this particular window while changes were locked. However, if your computer doesn’t allow it, make sure to unlock your system by selecting the lock pictured at the bottom left. You’ll need to enter your computer login password immediately afterward:

SHERlockedOnce that’s finished, you’re good to go! Except…

Step 4: For future reference

You may have noticed we skimmed past a very important question (get ready for this reveal)…

Why does this happen in the first place?

We didn’t put Adobe Acrobat into the Login Items box, and you probably didn’t either. So how do they get in there? Can you stop it in the future? Here’s one method that might help:

Go back to settings. This time, take a right turn into Security and Privacy:

Settings Again

In the left bar, find Accessibility.

AccessibilityThe apps within this section are given the ability to control your computer, which is likely how unwanted apps voyage to the Login Items section. We recommend keeping only apps you trust in this section.

Still, sometimes even AAA apps like Adobe Acrobat can decide they want attention. If anything starts acting up, we recommend checking this section and removing the app in question!

And that’s about that

It’s funny how little settings and changes can make such a large difference over time. We hope this quick fix helps keep your sanity in check by stopping legitimate apps from becoming irksome pop-ups!

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