How to restart Microsoft Windows

There are many instances in which you may need to restart your computer, including the installation of new software, Windows updates, or the need to correct issues with performance. This page 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
Using the Windows Command Line
How to reboot from an error message
Physical Restart with button on computer

Tip: If you cannot restart the computer because it is frozen or the keyboard and mouse are not working your only option is to press and hold down the power button for a few seconds until the computer turns off. Once the computer is off you can turn the computer back on to restart the computer.

Tip: If your computer has a blue screen or has another error screen try the Ctrl+Alt+Del method of rebooting

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 for the drop-down list, select Restart, and click OK.

Windows 7 restart

Note: If you have not updated 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 10

The Start menu returns in Windows 10, allowing users to easily access the power options again.

  1. Click the Start button in the lower left-hand corner of the screen.
  2. Click the Power option.
  3. In the Power menu, select the Restart option.

Windows 10 Restart option

Windows 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 drop-down menu that appears.

Windows 8 power options

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 left-hand corner of the screen.
  2. Click the Shut Down button.
  3. Select Restart in the drop-down 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.

Note: If your computer has a blue screen error message or another message that prevents any of the below screens from appearing press and hold down Ctrl + Alt and then press delete multiple times to reboot the computer.

Windows 10

In Windows 10, pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del takes you to the Windows lock screen. To restart Windows:

  1. Locate and click the power icon in the lower right-hand corner of the lock screen. It should be the icon furthest to the right.
  2. Select Restart from the menu that appears.

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 earlier, 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 drop-down menu.
  3. Click OK.

Windows XP restart

Using the Windows Command Line

You can shutdown or restart a Windows computer using the Windows command prompt by following the steps below.

  1. Open the Windows Command Line window.
  2. To shut down Windows, type shutdown -s and press Enter.
  3. To restart Windows, type shutdown -r and press Enter.

Note: If you are accessing Windows on a computer through a remote desktop connection and execute the shutdown or restart command, the remote desktop connection will be terminated. If you executed the restart command, you can reconnect to that computer once it has restarted. If you executed the shutdown command, you will not be able to reconnect to and start up that computer remotely.

How to reboot from an error message

If the computer encounters an error, you can reboot or restart the computer by pressing the Ctrl + Alt + Del keys all at the same time. If these keys do not work you can also perform the physical restart mentioned below.

Computer power buttonPhysical Restart with button on computer

You can use the computer's power button to restart. Press the power button once and wait for the computer to shut down. Press the power button again to turn the computer back on.

If your computer is frozen or does not turn off, press and hold the power button for five seconds to shut the computer off. This action is known as a hard reset and should only be done if all of the above options do not work.

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

Additional information