How to shut down a computer

Updated: 12/05/2021 by Computer Hope
Shut down screen on Windows 10

Shutting down a computer closes all open programs and exits the operating system safely so hardware isn't damaged and your operating system isn't corrupted. The sections below explain how to shut down a computer, with instructions for different operating systems.

Tip

If you are not sure what OS your computer is running, see: How to find what operating system is on a computer.

Note

If the computer appears to be frozen, see: What should I do when a computer freezes or locks up?

Shut down in Windows 11

  1. Press the Windows key on the keyboard, or click Start.
  2. In the Start menu, click the Power icon in the lower-right corner, then select Shut down in the power menu.

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Press Ctrl+Alt+Del and click the power button in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

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From the Windows desktop, press Alt+F4 to get the Shut Down Windows screen shown here.

Windows 11 Shut down

Tip

If you don't have a mouse, use the Tab and arrow keys to switch between fields. Use the Enter or spacebar key to select the Shut down option.

Shut down in Windows 10

  1. Press the Windows key on the keyboard, or click Start. The Start menu opens.
  2. In the Start menu, click the Power icon, then click Shut down.

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Press Ctrl+Alt+Del and click the power button in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

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From the Windows desktop, press Alt+F4 to get the Shut Down Windows screen shown here.

Windows 10 Shut down

Tip

If you don't have a mouse, use the Tab and arrow keys to switch between fields. Use the Enter or spacebar key to select the Shut down option.

Shut down in Windows 8 and 8.1

Windows 8 power options

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) and select Restart from the drop-down menu that appears.

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Press Ctrl+Alt+Del and click the power button in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

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From the desktop, press Alt+F4 to get the Shut Down Windows screen.

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With Windows 8, Shut down is found in the Settings of the Windows Charms.

Tip

If you don't have a mouse, use the Tab and arrow keys to switch between fields. Use the Enter or spacebar key to select the Shut down option.

Shut down in Windows Vista and Windows 7

  1. Press the Windows key on the keyboard or click Start.
  2. Click the Shut down button.

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Press Ctrl+Alt+Del and click the power button in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

-or-

From the Windows desktop, press Alt+F4 to get the Shut down Windows screen and select Shut down.

Tip

If you don't have a mouse, use the Tab and arrow keys to switch between fields. Use the Enter or spacebar key to select the Shut down option.

Shut down in Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, and XP

All these versions of Microsoft Windows can be shut down through the Start menu.

  1. Press the Windows key on the keyboard or click Start.
  2. From the Start menu, click Shut Down.

Shut down in MS-DOS and the Windows command line

  1. Press the Windows key, type cmd, and then press Enter to open the command line.
  2. In the prompt that appears, type shutdown -s and press Enter.
  3. After a few moments, the computer shuts down.
Tip

You can restart the computer by typing "shutdown -r".

Tip

You can log off the current user account by typing "shutdown -l".

Tip

You can also shut down your computer using a batch file and optionally run it with a keyboard shortcut. For more information, see: How to shut down or restart the computer with a batch file.

Shut down in a Chromebook

Chromebook Shut down

To shut down a Chromebook, follow these steps.

  1. Click the digits showing the time in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
  2. Click the Power button icon.

Shut down in Apple macOS

To shut down a macOS computer, follow these steps.

  1. Click the Apple menu icon in the top-left corner of the screen.
  2. In the Apple menu, click Shut Down.

How to force shut down a computer

Computer power button

If your computer does not shut down using the shut down options in the operating system, you may need to force a shut down. Sometimes a program gets stuck and does not stop running, hardware drivers may be causing issues, the operating system has corrupt system files, or the computer is frozen, and nothing works. Each of these cases may require a forced shut down to turn off the computer.

To force a computer to shut down, find the computer's power button. The picture is an example of a power button on a computer. Press and hold the power button until the computer turns off, then release the power button.

Warning

Performing a forced shut down can cause damage to program and operating system files and hardware drivers. The files could be corrupted, resulting in errors when you turn the computer on again. A forced shut down should be done as a last resort.