How to Disable Skype on Startup: A Mac User‘s Guide (2023)

As a Mac software expert, I‘ve noticed that one of the most common questions I get from Skype users is how to stop the app from automatically launching on startup. It‘s an understandable frustration – while Skype‘s auto-start feature can be convenient for heavy users, it‘s far from ideal for those who prefer a more streamlined boot experience or simply don‘t rely on Skype for their daily communication needs.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll walk through several methods to prevent Skype from opening on startup on both Mac and Windows. Whether you‘re a long-time Skype user looking to optimize your app preferences or a recent adopter evaluating if Skype is right for you, you‘ll find all the info and step-by-step instructions you need below. Let‘s dive in!

Skype Startup Settings: How Do They Differ on Mac vs Windows?

Right off the bat, it‘s worth highlighting that the process for managing Skype‘s auto-start behavior is a bit different depending on whether you‘re running the app on macOS or Windows. While the core functionality is largely the same across platforms, there are a few key distinctions to keep in mind.

On Windows, Skype is typically configured to launch on startup and run persistently in the background by default upon installation. This allows the app to instantly receive and display incoming call and message notifications, even when the main window is closed. Windows users can disable Skype‘s auto-start directly through the app‘s settings or via the Windows 10 & 11 startup app management screen, as we‘ll detail in a later section.

Windows Skype settings screen

In contrast, the macOS version of Skype is a bit more conservative when it comes to startup behavior. By default, Skype for Mac will launch and run in the background automatically after you first open the app, but it won‘t necessarily start up again on subsequent reboots unless you explicitly enable that option in Skype Preferences or add Skype to your user account‘s Login Items.

macOS Skype General Preferences pane

So in most cases, Mac users won‘t need to take any additional steps to stop Skype from launching on startup, as the app likely isn‘t configured to do so in the first place. That said, if you have intentionally or accidentally enabled Skype‘s auto-start on your Mac, it‘s just as easy to undo as it is on Windows. We‘ll walk through the steps in the following section.

Why Do Apps Like Skype Launch on Startup Anyway?

Before we jump into the how-to, it‘s worth taking a moment to understand why so many apps, including Skype, are so eager to launch automatically and run constantly in the background. The simple answer is that it provides a better user experience… most of the time.

When an app like Skype is always running, it can maintain a persistent connection to its servers to ensure that you receive incoming messages and calls instantly, even if you haven‘t interacted with the app in a while. It also allows the app to keep your contact list and other data synced and up-to-date in real-time.

Moreover, having Skype already running in the background means that it can launch much faster when you do need it, as opposed to having to "cold start" the app from scratch. This can make a big difference in user perception of the app‘s performance and responsiveness.

However, there are some notable downsides to this always-on approach, particularly on Macs and other systems with limited processing power and memory:

  • Background apps consume computing resources that could otherwise be available for the task at hand, potentially slowing down overall system performance
  • Persistent network connections from background apps can impact battery life on laptops
  • Frequent background syncing can eat into monthly data caps on metered internet connections
  • Unchecked background resource usage can lead to overheating, especially on older or under-powered Macs

That‘s why it‘s so important to be judicious about which apps you allow to launch on startup and run in the background. Disabling auto-start for non-essential apps like Skype is an easy way to streamline your Mac‘s boot process and avoid unwanted resource usage.

Is Skype Still Relevant in 2023?

At this point, you might be wondering if it‘s even worth keeping Skype around on your Mac in 2023. After all, there‘s no shortage of competing messaging and video chat apps these days, from Microsoft‘s own Teams to popular alternatives like Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, and Google Meet.

However, despite the fierce competition, Skype remains one of the most widely used communication platforms in the world. According to Microsoft‘s latest figures, Skype still has over 40 million daily active users as of 2022, with a total of more than 300 million monthly active users worldwide.

Skype monthly active users chart
Source: Microsoft FY22 Q4 Earnings Release

Much of Skype‘s enduring popularity can be attributed to its versatility and cross-platform support. Skype is available on virtually every modern device and operating system, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and even Xbox and Alexa. This ubiquity makes it an ideal choice for communication in heterogeneous environments where not everyone is on the same platform.

Skype also offers a unique combination of features that set it apart from other apps in the space. In addition to the expected messaging, audio calling, and video conferencing capabilities, Skype supports:

  • SMS message sending/receiving (via Skype Number)
  • Landline and mobile calling (with Skype Credit)
  • Real-time translation for voice and video calls
  • Screen sharing and remote control
  • Skype for Content Creators tools for recording podcasts and videos
  • Background blur and replacement for video chats

So while it may not be the trendiest app on the block, Skype still has a lot to offer for both personal and professional communication needs. As long as you‘re selective about when and how it runs on your Mac, there‘s no reason not to keep Skype in your toolkit for those times when you need it.

Step-by-Step: Disabling Skype on Startup for Mac

Now that we‘ve covered the why, let‘s get into the how. If you‘ve determined that Skype‘s auto-start behavior is more trouble than it‘s worth for your needs, here‘s how to disable it on macOS:

  1. Open Skype and click on "Skype" in the menu bar at the top of your screen
  2. Select "Preferences" from the drop-down menu
  3. Click on the "General" tab in the Preferences window
  4. Uncheck the box next to "Start Skype when I start this computer"
  5. Close the Preferences window to save your changes

Disable Skype auto-start on Mac

And that‘s all there is to it! The next time you restart your Mac, Skype will remain closed until you manually launch it from your Applications folder or Dock.

If you ever change your mind and want to re-enable Skype‘s auto-start feature, simply follow the same steps as above but check the "Start Skype when I start this computer" box instead of unchecking it.

You can also manage Skype‘s startup behavior from your Mac‘s Users & Groups settings with the following steps:

  1. Open System Preferences from the Apple menu or Dock
  2. Click on "Users & Groups"
  3. Select your user account and click on the "Login Items" tab
  4. If Skype is listed under "These items will open automatically when you log in," select it and click the "-" button to remove it
  5. Close System Preferences to save your changes

This Login Items list is a more general way to manage which apps launch automatically when you log into your user account, so it‘s worth periodically reviewing to ensure that only the apps you actually need are set to auto-start.

Advanced Skype Performance Tuning Tips

If you decide to keep Skype around on your Mac for occasional use, there are a few extra steps you can take to minimize its impact on system resources and battery life:

  1. Disable Skype‘s "On" status by default. Go to Skype > Preferences > Status and select "Offline" from the "When Skype starts" dropdown. This will prevent Skype from automatically connecting and syncing when you launch it. You can always manually set your status to "Online" when needed.

  2. Turn off Skype‘s notification sounds. Go to Skype > Preferences > Notifications and uncheck "Play sound for incoming IM" and "Play sound for incoming call." This will prevent Skype from unexpectedly blaring notification sounds even when it‘s not the active application.

  3. Quit Skype completely when not in use. Simply closing the Skype window will keep the app running in the background. To fully exit Skype, right-click its icon in the Dock and select "Quit."

  4. Keep Skype up-to-date. Microsoft frequently releases updates for Skype that include performance improvements and bug fixes. To ensure you have the latest version, open Skype and go to Skype > Check for Updates.

By following these tips, you can significantly reduce Skype‘s resource footprint on your Mac and avoid any unwanted performance or battery life hits.

The Future of Skype: Is Microsoft Teams Taking Over?

No discussion of Skype in 2023 would be complete without acknowledging the elephant in the room: Microsoft Teams. Launched in 2017 as a business-focused alternative to Slack, Teams has rapidly evolved into a full-fledged communication and collaboration platform that could eventually replace Skype entirely.

Microsoft has already confirmed that Skype for Business, its enterprise-oriented version of the app, will be retired in favor of Teams in the near future. While the consumer version of Skype is still being actively developed and supported for now, it‘s clear that Teams is Microsoft‘s primary focus going forward.

Given the significant overlap in features between the two apps, it‘s not hard to imagine a future where Skype is fully absorbed into Teams, or at least relegated to a secondary role in Microsoft‘s communication ecosystem. For now, though, both apps continue to coexist and serve their respective user bases.

As a Mac software expert, my advice would be to start familiarizing yourself with Teams if you haven‘t already, especially if you use Skype primarily for work or school-related communication. While the two apps are not fully interchangeable yet, it‘s likely only a matter of time before Teams becomes the de facto standard for Microsoft-centric messaging and video chat.


Phew, that was a lot to cover! We‘ve explored the ins and outs of Skype‘s startup behavior on Mac and Windows, walked through step-by-step instructions for disabling auto-start on both platforms, and weighed the app‘s continued relevance and future prospects in an increasingly crowded market.

Whether you‘re a die-hard Skype user or just an occasional dabbler, I hope this guide has given you the knowledge and tools you need to take control of how and when the app runs on your system. By being proactive about managing Skype‘s startup settings and resource usage, you can ensure that it remains a useful tool in your communication arsenal without bogging down your Mac‘s performance.

Of course, Skype is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to optimizing your Mac‘s software setup. As an expert in the field, I‘m always eager to hear about the apps and tools that fellow Mac users rely on to stay productive and connected.

Do you have any favorite alternatives to Skype that you think more people should know about? Or perhaps a lesser-known Mac optimization tip that‘s made a big difference in your day-to-day computing experience? Let me know in the comments below – I‘m always excited to trade insights and learn from others in the Mac community.

Thanks for reading, and happy (Skype-free) startup!

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