Most Windows users shut down the computer through the Windows Start Menu, probably. Probably, because statistical information is not available that would prove it.
While shutting down Windows through the Start Menu works, it is not the fastest option that you have at your disposal to shut down the operating system.
The following guide lists several methods that are usually faster. Included are methods that are built-in to Windows, and also methods that rely on third-party applications.
Most methods should work in all versions of Windows. The supported operating systems are listed if that is not the case.
Good old Alt-F4
Using Alt-F4 may not be the fastest method to shut down a PC running Windows, but it works in all versions of the operating system.
All you need to do is use the shortcut Alt-F4 while the desktop is active, and click ok when the Shut Down Windows prompt opens.
It is not the fastest option, as you need to click on the desktop first to make sure it is active, before you hit the shortcut.
You may hit Alt-F4 multiple times, as it will close any open program window when you do. You will reach the desktop eventually and trigger the shut down prompt.
Tip: you may use Windows-D to minimize all program Windows, then use Alt-F4 to bring up the menu.
The Windows-X menu
This option is only available on Windows 8 and newer versions of Windows. Use the shortcut Windows-X to open the menu, then press U, and U again.
The first U selects the Shut down or sign out menu, the second the Shut down command of the menu once you have selected it. While you may use the mouse for that as well, using the keyboard is usually a lot faster.
Start Menu Shut Down
We have established already that you can shut down Windows using the Start Menu. While most users may use the mouse for that, you may use the keyboard exclusively as well.
Press the Windows-key, then the right-arrow key on the keyboard, and finally the Enter-key. This selects shut down from the power menu under Start, and shuts down the computer.
Shutdown is a built-in command that you can run to shut down the computer. To use it, press Windows-R to open the run box, then type shutdown /s /f /t 0. Note that you can also just type shutdown /s, but shut down is not enforced which means that processes may delay the operation.
- /s refers to the shut down itself
- /f means shut down is enforced, you may lose work that is not saved yet.
- /t 0 sets the time before shut down happens to 0 seconds (immediately).
It is usually not that comfortable to type the command. What you can do is create a shortcut, and place it on your desktop so that you only have to click on it to shut down Windows.
- Right-click on a free location on the desktop and select New > Shortcut.
- In the location field, type the following command: %windir%system32shutdown.exe -s -t 0
- Click Next to continue.
- Name the shortcut or keep the name. This is the icon description that appears underneath the shortcut on the desktop.
- If you are running Windows 7 or newer, you may pin the shortcut to the taskbar. This may be useful if you want a clean desktop, don’t display desktop icons by default, or prefer to use the taskbar for important activities.
Tip: You can assign a keyboard shortcut to the shortcut to run the command from any location on the system. Right-click the shortcut on the desktop and select properties from the context menu. Locate the Shortcut Field, click on it and pick a shortcut for it that you want to use, for instance Ctrl-F11 or any other shortcut that you are comfortable with and is not mapped by Windows or programs already.
Superfast Shutdown is a free program for Windows that does one thing when you run it: it shuts down the computer quickly.
You can read our review of Superfast Shutdown, and also download it directly from the review page as the developer website is no longer available.
Initially designed for Windows XP and Vista, it is compatible with all recent versions of Windows as well.
There are other methods to shut down Windows quickly, but they are usually slower than the ones mentioned. You can use the PowerShell command Stop-Computer for instance, or press Windows-L to lock the computer, and select shut down from the lockscreen afterwards
Now You: How do you shut down Windows?
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