How do I restart Microsoft Windows?

There are many instances in which you may need to restart you computer; whether you have installed new software, Windows updates, or need to correct issues with performance. The following document contains multiple methods for restarting Windows. To proceed, select the method you would like to use from the list below, or read through each section individually.

Restart from the Windows Desktop
Using the Start Menu
The Ctrl+Alt+Del Method
Physical Restart

Restarting from the Windows Desktop

In any version of Windows, navigate to the desktop and press Alt + F4 on your keyboard. Doing so brings up a menu similar to the one displayed below. Click the down arrow, select Restart and then click OK.

Windows 7 restart

Note: If you have not updated to Windows 8 to version 8.1, visit our page on how to Sleep, Restart, or Shut Down Windows 8.

Restarting through the Start menu

Windows 8 power optionsWindows 8 and 8.1

Neither of these versions of Windows has the Start Menu. However, with the 8.1 update, Microsoft added the power options button to the upper right-hand corner of the Start screen that allows users to restart their computer quickly. Click the power options icon (squared in red in the image to the right) and select Restart from the dropdown menu that appears.

Windows Vista and 7

In both Windows Vista and Windows 7, users may restart their computer through the Start menu using the following steps:

  1. Click the Start orb in the lower left-hand corner of the Windows Desktop.
  2. Locate and click the right arrow (shown below) next to the Shut down button.
  3. Select Restart from the menu that appears.

Restart the computer in Windows Vista and 7

Windows XP and prior versions

  1. Click the Start button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
  2. Click the Shut Down button.
  3. Select Restart in the dropdown menu that appears.
  4. Click OK.

Using Ctrl + Alt + Delete to restart

If you press the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys on your keyboard simultaneously, it will bring up an administrative menu. This menu differs between versions of Windows, but each one allows users access to the Restart function. Instructions for each version are shown in the following sections.

Windows 8

Users of the Windows 8 will be taken to the Windows lock screen upon pushing Ctrl+Alt+Del. To restart Windows:

  1. Locate and click the black power button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
  2. Select Restart from the menu that appears.

Shut down optionsWindows Vista and 7

In Windows Vista and 7, pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete takes users to the Windows lock screen containing several options. In the lower right-hand corner, there is a red button with an arrow next to it. Clicking this button opens a list of shutdown options, as you can see in the image to the right. To restart your computer using this menu:

  1. Click the red arrow to open the menu.
  2. Select Restart to reboot your machine.

Windows XP and prior

In Windows XP and prior, Ctrl+Alt+Del brings up the Windows Security screen. To restart:

  1. Click the Shut Down... button.
  2. In the new window that appears, click the down arrow and select Restart from the dropdown menu.
  3. Click OK.

Windows XP restart

Physical restart

You can use the computer's power button to restart. Press the button once and wait for the computer to shut down. Press the button again to restart. If your machine is frozen, press the hold the power button for five seconds. This action is known as a hard reset.

Note:Some computers also have a reset button next to or below the power button.

Additional information