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Quick Ways to Shut Down Windows

The normal procedure for shutting down Windows goes through the Start button and involves several steps. The exact number varies, depending on the version of Windows, but there are enough steps that I am frequently asked if there isn't a quicker way. This tip will describe several shortcuts.

Create a shutdown shortcut

Here is how to construct a shortcut that directly shuts down the system. The shortcut makes use of a Windows system file called "shutdown.exe".

1. Right-click on an empty spot on the Desktop
2. Choose “New-Shortcut” from the context menu
3. In the line labeled “Type the location of the item” enter:
      %windir%\system32\shutdown.exe -s -t 0
4. Press “Next”, give the shortcut a name and choose “Finish”

Added in response to Rune:

As written, the command with "shutdown.exe" does not time out for other things to finish. This is not usually a problem unless you have a process that is very slow or has a lot of cleaning up to do. If your system requires it, you can change the command to wait a certain number of seconds. Replace the "-t 0" with something like "-t 30". Then it will wait 30 seconds for processes to finish. Then the command becomes:

%windir%\system32\shutdown.exe -s -t 30

This procedure applies to Windows XP, Vista, 7.

Keyboard shortcuts to close the system down

In Windows XP use the keyboard sequence:
    Windows key, u, u
In each case, release the key you have pressed before pressing the next key.

Windows Vista doesn’t have a short sequence to shut down but has the rather long procedure:
   Windows key, Right Arrow, Right Arrow, Right Arrow, u

For Windows 7, the keyboard sequence is:
   Windows key, Right arrow, Enter

For these three keyboard shortcuts, remember to press the keys one at a time.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs a Windows blog called The PC Informant and also operates a computer education website.

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Comments

by AnonymousE (not verified) on 1. September 2010 - 5:21  (57082)

After creating the shortcut move it to the quickLaunchBar and it only takes one click.

by Rune (not verified) on 30. August 2010 - 19:22  (57001)

Thanks for the tip. My computer (Asus Laptop) takes forever to shut down. But before I dear to try your tip, I'll have to ask you:

I have set the system to clear all temp-files and clear all cached files before shut down. Is your tip a way to avoid this clearing, because I like to clear out this files?

I have a few external WD HD attached by USB and they don't shut down before the system-shut-down is done. Is there any danger with using your tip regarding to the external HD:s? I had som problems with one HD a few months ago when it did not shut down correctly, some files and folders disappered in the Explorer, but I did recover them with a tool for this, but I am very afraid for this to happen again.

Thanks in advance!

Regards
Rune

by v.laurie on 30. August 2010 - 20:06  (57006)

Your question is a good one. I am going to add a paragraph to the tip.

I don't know what method you are using to clear temp files, etc but that should be pretty fast unless you have a lot of files.

The keyboard shortcuts are the same as a manual shutdown. By default Windows waits for 20 seconds for programs to clean up. This time period is set in the Registry and can be changed.

If you are doing a lot of copying to an external drive, you need to be sure it finishes before turning things off. If it is set to use caching, you have to wait. You can also disable caching but that slows down copying. Maybe I'll write a tip about that.

by v.laurie on 21. August 2010 - 3:03  (56448)

Thanks for your comment, Jojoyee. You have inspired me to write a tip on quick ways to hibernate. I'll just note here that some older Windows XP systems don't do power management very well and may have trouble with hibernation.

by Jojo Yee on 21. August 2010 - 1:52  (56445)

Thanks Vic for the tip. The keyboard shortcut for Win > Right arrow > Enter (for Win7) is helpful and serves as an alternative to two mouse-clicks.

In my case, I set Hibernate as the default, so the shortcut works to hibernate the system. Personally I prefer to use 'hibernate' to 'shutdown' as this increases the speed in auto switching off the PC as well as bringing up the Windows back to work.