How to restart Microsoft Windows

Updated: 04/01/2018 by Computer Hope
The Microsoft Windows logo

Restarting your computer is necessary for many common tasks, including installing new software and performing Windows Updates. 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.

Tip

If you cannot restart the computer because it is frozen or the keyboard and mouse are not working, 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 Start in the lower-left 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 corner of the Start screen that allows users to restart their computer quickly. Click the power options icon (squared in red in the image below) 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 Start in the lower-left 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 Start in the lower-left 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 or another error that prevents any of the below screens from appearing, press the Ctrl+Alt+Delete keys 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 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 corner of the screen.
  2. Select Restart from the menu that appears.
Shut down options

Windows 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 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 shut down 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.

Physical restart with button on computer

Computer power button

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