Turning off a computer: frequently asked questions


Here are answers to some common questions about turning off a computer.

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How do I turn off my computer?

By default, clicking the Shut down button closes Windows and turns off your computer. (To find the Shut down button, click the Start button Picture of the Start button.)

You can also turn off a desktop computer by pressing the power button on the computer case. Pressing the power button on the edge of a laptop puts the computer into an energy-saving mode called sleep. Sleep automatically preserves open documents and programs in memory and shuts down all nonessential functions. The advantage of sleep is that it takes only seconds to restore your computer to where you left off and uses a very small amount of electricity.

For information about how to change what happens when you press the power button on your computer or the Shut down button on the Start menu, see Change what happens when you press the power button on your computer.

Note

  • Always save open files before putting your computer into sleep or hibernation. Before shutting down your computer, save files, and then close any open programs.

Why doesn't my computer shut down?

Programs sometimes prevent Windows from shutting down properly. When that happens, the screen darkens and Windows indicates which programs are preventing the computer from shutting down, and sometimes why.

The darkened screen displays two buttons: Force shutdown and Cancel. Clicking Force shutdown closes all programs, closes Windows, and then turns off your computer. If you click this button, you might lose any work that you haven't saved, so if you need to save files, click Cancel to return to Windows and save your work.

Occasionally, you might have to shut down an unresponsive program manually. To learn more, see Exit a program that isn't responding.

Note

  • To avoid losing work, save all files, and then close any open programs before shutting down your computer.

Should I use sleep or shut down my computer?

The advantage of sleep is that it takes only seconds to restore your computer to where you left off and uses a very small amount of electricity. Also, you don't need to restart programs or reopen files like you do if you shut down the computer. For more information, see Sleep and hibernation: frequently asked questions.

There are times when you must shut down your computer fully—for example, when you install new hardware or when you need to unplug a desktop computer (or a laptop that doesn't have a battery installed).

Can I change what happens when I click the power button?

Yes. You can change the default setting of both the Shut down button on the Start menu and the power button on your computer case (or the edge of your laptop). For more information, see Change what happens when you press the power button on your computer.



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