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Is there a way to definitively tell what application is attempting to open a file on startup (if it is not in the Startup folder)?

For example, when I boot my PC, I see the following message:

enter image description here

My first step was of course to check the Startup folder. Nothing there (checked hidden files, too).

I've looked through MSCONFIG startup services and none of them are related to the filetype. I've run in Safe Mode and the file does not open, but that still doesn't tell me what is calling the file on startup.

I can open up task manager while the "Windows can't open this file" window is open, but that still doesn't tell me which of the running programs has called it.

I've even tried searching for the file in hopes of deleting it, but every search I've ran for it has turned up nothing.

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marked as duplicate by nixda, Tog, gronostaj, Excellll, CharlieRB Aug 7 '13 at 19:09

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

There are many more locations where autostarting programs can hide. Use AutoRuns to find them all. Its column ImagePath will show you what files are opened first – nixda Aug 5 '13 at 21:44

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Run ProcessExplorer, use the crosshair from toolbar

Process Explorer CrossHair

and move it to the dialog. This will highlight the program which causes the dialog. if this doesn't work use AutRuns to see which programs you start and play a bit until you found the program which causes it.

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I think you should try looking into msconfig again. You said that the file was not listed under the services tab, but how about the startup tab? There should be a single entry with the file name listed and a check mark next to it.

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Try running Autoruns from Sysinternals/Microsoft as it will show more information than MsConfig.

If that does not work, then it could be that the program is not opened directly. In that case you may need to use the boot-logging option of Process Monitor (also from Sysinternals)

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