A Complete Guide to Using the System Configuration Tool in Windows 11

Windows comes with several useful features to improve your computing experience and troubleshoot issues on your PC. However, when your computer takes too long to start up or throws an error before you see your desktop, Windows lets you fix that too. You can use the system configuration tool to change various startup settings and fix issues that pop up before you see the Windows desktop screen.

Although it is quite useful, many do not get the most out of the System Configuration Tool. We’ll talk a bit about the System Configuration Tool and how to easily access it to troubleshoot and fix issues on your Windows 11 PC.

The System Configuration Tool (MSConfig) is a handy utility built into Windows for troubleshooting and troubleshoot issues that may interfere with the Windows startup processpreventing your PC from booting/booting properly.

Besides troubleshooting issues, the System Configuration Tool is also useful if you want to reduce the startup time of your PCi.e. the time it takes your PC to start or choose which programs and services start with your PC.

This is useful if you have multiple operating systems installed on your computer and you can choose to assign the order in which they appear on the startup screen. This tool allows you to make basic changes to advanced settings to start Windows.

Similar to most other Windows administrative tools, there are several ways to access the System Configuration Tool on your Windows 11 computer. You can check out our guide on the best ways to access system configuration tool (MSConfig). You can follow the steps below:

Step 1: Press Windows + R keys on the keyboard to access the Run dialog box.

2nd step: In the Run dialog box that opens, type MSConfig. Then click OK or press Enter.

This will open the System Configuration Tool window on your computer.

The System Configuration Tool is divided into five tabs for easy navigation, each with a different set of functions. Here’s what you can do under each tab:

1. The General tab

The General tab provides boot selection options that you can use to configure your system’s boot behavior. The Startup section consists of three startup options that allow you to choose the services, devices, and drivers that start each time you start your PC with varying degrees of control.

The three boot options include normal boot, diagnostic boot, and selective boot. Here’s what each option does:

  • Normal start: As the name suggests, this mode loads all the usual services and drivers as they normally would when starting the PC.
  • Diagnostic startup: Similar to safe mode, this option only loads essential services and devices. However, some of the more advanced services, such as Networking, System Restore, and Windows Error Reporting, are interrupted to diagnose and resolve software issues.
  • Selective start-up: This mode has two more sub-options that let you choose whether to load system services, load startup items, or both.

To start your PC in a certain boot mode, click Boot Mode under Boot selection followed by Apply. Then restart your PC.

2. The start tab

The System Configuration Tool boot tab allows you to change the way your computer boots and offers the option to choose the default operating system (if you have more than one operating system on your PC ), enable safe mode with different configurations or drivers, and more.

The main function of the Boot tab is to allow you to customize various settings that may impact your PC’s startup. Also, it’s a quick way to boot your PC in Safe Mode by clicking the Safe Boot checkbox and then Apply.

As for the four sub-options listed below, you can choose one depending on your use case. Here’s what selecting each option does:

  • Minimal: Selecting this option disables networking and allows you to load Windows in Safe Mode while running critical system services.
  • Alternate shell: This option also disables networking but boots to a command prompt window in safe mode when running critical system services.
  • Repairing Active Directory: Applicable only to Windows Server operating systems, selecting Active Directory Repair allows an administrator to repair an Active Directory database.
  • Network: Quite similar to Minimal startup mode, except with networking enabled.

Besides Secure Boot and its sub-options, four other options are listed under Boot Options. Here’s what each selection does:

  • No GUI startup: This option disables the Windows splash screen (manufacturer/Windows logo) during startup. Useful for troubleshooting graphics/video card issues.
  • Boot log: Select this option to create a log file with all technical information about the boot process.
  • Basic video: This option starts Windows in minimal VGA mode (lower resolution). Also useful for troubleshooting graphics/video card issues.
  • Operating system boot information: Selecting this option allows you to reveal the name of each driver and service as it loads during the boot process.

You can also use the Boot tab to limit the number of processors (CPU processing cores) and maximum memory (RAM) your system can use. Here’s how:

Step 1: Head to the Boot tab of the System Configuration Tool and select your current operating system. Then click Advanced Options.

2nd step: When a “Boot Advanced Options” dialog box appears on your screen, click the “Number of processors” checkbox, followed by the drop-down list just below, to select the number of processors your system can use.

Step 3: Change the maximum memory used by your system, check the Maximum memory: box and use the arrow keys on your keyboard to set its value.

Step 4: Once configured, click OK to save changes.

You can check Make all startup settings permanent: changes to the system configuration are not tracked. If you want to make changes later, you’ll have to do it manually. The Normal Startup selection in the General tab does not work if this feature is selected.

3. Services tab

The Services tab allows you to activate or disable services that start with your PC. It’s a great way to find and stop red services that might be interfering with your system’s stability.

To choose which services launch when you start your PC, check the Hide all Microsoft services box to make sure you’re not disturbing an important service. Then click Disable All.

After that, select the ones you want by clicking on the checkboxes before their name.

Once you’re done, click Apply. Your PC will reboot and boot only with the selected services. You can repeat the process to add or remove other services to run at startup.

4. The Startup tab

The Startup tab is where you can configure the applications that should start automatically each time you start your PCat least on Windows 10 and other older versions.

With the advent of Windows 11 Resigned Task ManagerMicrosoft has changed things up, and the System Configuration Tool’s Startup tab only has a link that redirects you to the Task Manager’s Startup tab.

5. The Tools tab

You can use the Tools tab of the System Configuration Tool to launch many other useful utilities built into Windows. The Tools tab organizes all important tools and utilities in a handy list for easy access when needed.

If you want to access a utility listed under the Tools tab of the System Configuration Tool, select the tool of your choice and click Launch.

Whether it’s a new computer or an old one, you can use the System Configuration Tool to boot your windows 11 pc in safe modediagnose buggy software, launch useful tools and much more without worrying about messing something up. Be sure to back up your data and set system restore points before you continue tinkering.

Calvin W. Soper