For computer specific startup programs:
Programs that run after logon can be modified by first enabling the Group Policy: Local Computer PolicyComputer ConfigurationAdministrative TemplatesSystemRun These Programs at Computer Logon; then, click show to see the list. To add to the list, you may modify the list located in the registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionpoliciesExplorerRun.
(You may find older programs that use the Windows NT specific startup keys HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun or RunONce. While these programs will work, they cannot be manipulated with Group Policy. They can, however, be disabled by using the policy 'disable legacy run list' at the same location as above.
Four warnings are in order: First, whenever editing the registry, use caution as making the wrong changes can damage your system. Second, you must know what file will start the program you wish to run, and there may be other settings specific to that program that must be made. As usual, if the user does not have permission to run the specific program, placing it in Group Policy will not override or change these settings. Third, if domain, site or OU level policy modifies these settings, all bets are off. Fourth, legacy programs, as mentioned, may need placement elsewhere in order to start.
For more information see Microsoft Knowledge Base article Q270035. For user specific start up programs add or remove executables from the user profile (Documents and SettingsuseridProgramsStartup
This was first published in August 2002