Turn off a computer: frequently asked questions
Here are answers to some common questions about turning off a computer.
By default, clicking the Shut down button closes Windows
and turns off your computer. (To find the Shut down button, click the Start
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.
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.
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).