I used to have a great tool called StartupMonitor on Windows XP which informed me about every attempt of programs (or myself) to modify startup entries. Is there a similar tool for Windows 7 which also takes care of startup paths/keys that XP did not provide?
I use Spybot v1.62, I turn off most of the Spybot features but use Tea Timer, Tea Timer will notify you when any critical registry entry is added or changed which includes any startup items, allowing you to accept or deny the change. Been using it for years on XP and it works just fine for W7. Invaluable tool that I cannot live without.
will stop toolbar installations (among other things) when they try to install silently with other software.
I set Spybot Tea timer to Paranoid mode for best protection of the registry, this can be done from the system tray icon when Tea Timer is running.
WinPatrol will do this for you. The free version is sufficient, I ran it for years and it did just what you are describing, among other things...
It runs in the background and a dialog box pops up with several options whenever something wants to modify the startup entries..
Another option for analyzing your start up (not so strong in the notifications area but is a powerful tool, nonetheless):