Why does Task Manager tell me that I have a Startup program named Program?

Raymond Chen

If you go to Task Manager’s Startup tab, it lists the programs that are registered in the Startup group or the Run key to run automatically when you sign in. But you might see an entry called simply Program, with a blank icon and no publisher. What is this thing?

This thing is a program that registered itself incorrectly.

Command lines consist of a program name, a space, and the program arguments. If the program name contains spaces, then it needs to be enclosed in quotation marks. Otherwise, the first space is considered to be the end of the program name. What you’re seeing is a program that resides somewhere in the C:\Program Files or C:\Program Files (x86) directory, but they forgot to quote their program name. As a result, the space after Program is considered to be the end of the program name, which is why it shows up as just Program in Task Manager.

The program does manage to run because the CreateProcess function does autocorrection, but Task Manager doesn’t do the same autocorrection, so it thinks that the Startup program is C:\Program.exe.