How do I restart Microsoft Windows?

There are times when you need to restart your computer, including after you have installed new software, after installing some Windows updates, or maybe because your computer is experiencing some issues with performance and a restart is needed to return the computer back to optimal performance levels. Below are the steps for restarting your computer depending on your version of Windows.

The most common method is by clicking Start and then Shut down. It is the standard way that Microsoft built into Windows for shutting down and restarting your computer.

In Windows XP and prior, clicking this option will bring up a small window, allowing you to choose whether you want to Shut down or Restart your computer. The difference is that "Restart" turns the computer off and then back on and "Shut down" turns the computer off without turning it back on.

Shutting down through Start menu

In Windows Vista and Windows 7, clicking this option will turn the computer off. It will not turn back on automatically. To have it restart, you need to click the arrow next to the Shutdown button and select Restart from the list of options.

Restart the computer in Windows Vista and 7

This method for restarting your computer is probably the safest way to do this and is recommended by Microsoft as the preferred method. It ensures that the computer turns off and turns back on properly, to prevent and avoid any damage to the computer's hardware and software.

Using Ctrl + Alt + Delete to restart

Another way to restart your computer is to press Ctrl + Alt + Delete on your keyboard (at the same time).

In Windows XP and prior, a window opens with several options. One of the options is Shut Down, allowing you to select Restart from a list of options.

Windows XP restart

In Windows Vista and Windows 7, the whole screen will change to display several options. In the lower right corner, there will be a red button you can click to Shut down the computer (complete turns off and does not turn back on). Next to that button is an arrow that allows you to select Restart from a list of options, allowing you to turn your computer off and back on again

Using Alt + F4 at the Windows Desktop

There is a third way you can restart your computer, as well. Make sure you have closed all programs, and the Windows Desktop is displayed on your screen. Press Alt + F4 on your keyboard to display the Shut Down Windows window. On this window, you can select Restart from a list of options to turn your computer off and back on again.

Windows 7 restart

Computer's power button

If you are not able to access any of the above three options, you can use the computer's power button to restart the computer. The first thing to try is to press the power button for a second and release which may be enough to initiate the restart process in Windows. If that does not happen, press the hold the power button for five seconds to shut the computer down completely. Press the power button again to turn the computer back on. Some computers also have a reset button next to or below the power button. If your computer has this reset button, try pressing that button before using the power button. This may work to restart the computer.

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