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Simon over at Download Squad recently drew my attention to the Capster utility:

Capster is a small executable that allows you to select applications that will start upon boot-up only if Caps Lock is on. And by small, we mean small, as in 5 kilobytes.

What is great about this is you now have a way to chose between three different PC startup profiles through holding a single key after the logon dialog:

  1. Shift key = ignore applications in Startup folder
  2. No key = run applications in Startup folder, excluding those using Capster’s Caps On setting
  3. Capslock key = run applications in Startup folder, including those using Capster’s Caps On setting and excluding those using the Caps Off setting

Why would you want to do this?  In my case I use these for quick PC startup, offline startup (no network) and online startup (networked) respectively.  This brings my laptop to operational status in the quickest time with the major applications I’ll be needing on the day.  e.g. There is no point in me wasting RAM, CPU cycles and time waiting for twhirl to start if I’m not online at the time!

startup-applications-quickly-capster-00Capster is easy to use.  Simply start the application, browse for the program you want to control, select whether Caps must be on or off, then hit the Create Shortcut button.  This will add the shortcut to your Startup menu for execution the next time you start your PC.

By default most users will probably replace each shortcut in their Startup folder they want to control using Capster, which is a little cumbersome.  My preferred approach is to create a batch file listing all of the "Caps Only" startup applications and calling them that way.  For example I could create a startup-capson.bat file that contained the following entries:

start notepad.exe
start calc.exe

Please note the "start" entry at the beginning of each line.  This ensures the batch file doesn’t wait for Notepad to be shutdown before starting Calc.

Simon obviously didn’t have much use for Capster’s "Caps Off" setting but I can see situations where it would be useful.  In the scenario above I could easily have my offline startup launch a thick client to manage my Google Calendar (e.g. Outlook or Sunbird) and when online launch a thin client (e.g. Google Calendar as a Prism webapp) instead.

If you have applications that you often, but not always, want run at PC startup, download a copy of Capster and save yourself a little time every day!

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