How to add auto startup applications in Ubuntu 16.04

I usually add some applications like email, Skype, etc. to startup list so that these will auto-start during login. It is a time saver tweak for commonly used applications on a daily basis. Of course, some programs do have preference settings within them to auto-run, but many won’t.

STEP 1: Find out the command line for launching an application

To add a application to the startup list, you need to know the exact command line of the application. By default settings, Ubuntu stores all the applications shortcuts in /usr/share/applications/. So, navigate to the path and search for the program name in the search box.

Right-click on the application and select ‘Properties’. Copy the ‘Command’. This is the actual terminal command that launches the program.

Finding the Command line of an Application
Finding the Command line of an Application

STEP 2: Configure Startup Applications

Launch ‘Startup Applications’ from the Dash menu.

Launch Startup Applications
Launch Startup Applications

Click ‘Add’ and paste the copied command in the ‘Command’ section. You can give ‘Name’ and ‘Comment’ whatever you want. Click ‘Add’.

Startup Applications - Add Program
Startup Applications – Add Program

The program will get added in the Startup Applications.

Startup Applications
Startup Applications

Next time you restart Ubuntu, you should see the program start automatically.

Kiran Kumar
Hi there! I'm Kiran Kumar, founder of I'm an avid Linux lover and enjoy hands-on with new promising distros. Currently, I'm using Ubuntu as a daily driver and run several other distros such as Fedora, Solus, Manjaro, Debian, and some new ones on my test PC and virtual machines. I have a day job as an Engineer, and this website is one of my favorite past time activities especially during Winter ;). When I'm not writing for FOSSLinux, I'm seen biking and hiking on scenic trails. Hope you enjoy using this website as much as I do writing for it. Feedback from readers is something that inspires me to do more, and spread Linux love!. If you find a time, drop me an email or feedback from the 'Contact' page. Or simply leave a comment below if you found this article useful. Have a good day!


  1. HI, thank you

    any idea wyhy sometimes I cannot change the startup applications in 16.04? I add one and remove the SSH Keyring, save it, close it…on reopen its back to SSH Keyring only, my entry is lost…

    Any idea how to amend that and is there a workaround?


    • Mabye the autostart client doesn’t accept ~/… paths. f.e. to mount the google drive ocamlfuse I need to add: “google-drive-ocamlfuse start /home/IngosLaptop/googledrive”

      instead of “google-drive-ocamlfuse start ~/googledrive”

    • Hi Dan, for me it was the same. Finally I had to manually create a file to do the job (which is what the startup applications tool should do). Just search for ‘manually create .desktop file ubuntu’ or something similar and you will find posts like this one:

      It is actually easy. I didn’t even write half of the lines in the file (i.e. the one for the icon) and it works fine. I think the most important line is the one starting with “Exect=” where you have to add the same path described in this article.


    • You need to first create a .desktop file in ~/.config/autostart/ diectory. Then add this content to that file with the command you want:

      cat << EOF >> ~/.config/autostart/yourcommandname.desktop
      [Desktop Entry]

  2. Hi Kiran,

    Thanks for nice article. Does application run as root? and they start after all system and gpu drivers are loaded?



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