10 Clever Ways To Optimize The Windows Shutdown Process

Tina Sieber 01-07-2014

Your Windows boot time How To Make Windows 8 Boot Even Faster! Windows 8 may have plenty of issues, but a slow boot time ain't one. Windows 8 boots fast! Yet, there is room for improvement. We show you how to measure and optimize your Windows boot... Read More is record-breaking, but each and every shutdown remains an ordeal? Time to crack down on optimizing this process to save time. Most of these steps are super simple and only take a few seconds, promised!


Super Quick Solutions

Keyboard Shortcuts

Windows’ most popular keyboard shortcut, CTRL+ALT+DEL, also gets this task done. Whether you’re on Windows 7 or 8, note the power button in the bottom right, and off you go.

Windows 8 Ctrl Alt Del

Both in Windows 7 and 8, clicking ALT+F4 with the desktop selected will open the Shut Down dialog. If you forget to select the desktop, you’ll note that this is also an efficient way to close any program.

Shut Down Windows

Customize Power Options

Your laptop can be shut down by clicking the power button or closing the lid. Just select the respective behavior from power options Windows 7 Power Options and Sleep Modes Explained When Windows 7 launched, one of Microsoft's selling points was that it was designed to help your battery last longer. One of the main features users will actually notice is that the screen dims before... Read More . You can even choose different behaviors, depending on whether your computer is on battery or plugged in. You can find these options in the control panel sidebar under Hardware and Sound and Power Options or search Windows for shutdown.


Power Button & Lid Options

Spare A Few Seconds

Shut Down Services Faster

Windows is notorious for testing your patience; at least if you’re on default settings. Fortunately, most default settings can be customized. In this case, you could reduce the timeout to kill an unresponsive service, which is a registry hack.

To open the Registry Editor, click WINDOWS + R, then type regedit and hit Enter. In the Registry Editor, browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control and double-click the string WaitToKillServiceTimeout on the right-hand side. Change the value from 12000 to 2000 and click OK. Services will now be shut down after 2 seconds, rather than 12.

Kill Service Timeout


If Windows takes forever to shut down Is Windows Taking Forever to Shut Down? Try This! You’re just turning your PC off; how hard can it be? Shutting down is a complex process and much can go wrong. If your Windows 7, 8.1, or 10 gets stuck, check out our troubleshooting... Read More , you might find solutions in the respective article.

Quick Shut Down Shortcut

If you don’t want to use a keyboard shortcut, create a quick Shut Down shortcut instead. Place it on your desktop, in your Quick Launch bar 7 Useful Toolbars You Can Add To Your Windows Taskbar The Windows desktop can be a super productive work space. Native toolbars can help you make it even more efficient by placing shortcuts and information at your fingertips. Let's have a closer look. Read More , or make it a tile on your Windows 8 start screen. Now you can click it with a mouse or tab it on your touchscreen and your computer will shut down immediately.

To create the quick Shut Down shortcut, right-click the desktop, in the menu that opens go to New and Shortcut. Paste shutdown.exe /s /t 0 (see below for more details on the syntax) into the location of the item field of the shortcut window, then click Next, type a name, and click Finish.

Quick Shut Down


You can also change the default icon of your shortcut (right-click and select Properties) and drag it to a location that is most useful for you.

Geek Out

Shutdown Timer Tools

It’s not always about shutting down Windows easier or faster, sometimes you just need to time the shutdown. This is where tools like SmartPower (our SmartPower review Automatically Shut Down Your Computer After Downloading Has Completed [Windows] Leaving your computer on to download files can be a smart move, but what happens when the download completes? Your computer will stay powered on, doing nothing but wasting electricity and costing you some money.... Read More ), Sleep Timer (our Sleep Timer review Sleep Timer: Automatically Shut Down Or Restart Your Computer When You Need It To Read More ), or Shutdown Timer (our Shutdown Timer review Automatically Turn Off Your Computer With Shutdown Timer [Windows] Read More ) come into play. You can set them up to automatically power on or shut down your computer based on a schedule or other conditions.

Sleep Timer is the most basic of the bunch, while SmartPower and Shutdown Timer come with advanced features, such as shutting down when downloads finish or when memory usage or CPU temperature reach a certain threshold.

Shutdown Timer


Remote Outlook Shutdown

We first reported this Outlook hack How to Restart or Shut Down Your Computer Remotely using Microsoft Outlook Read More in 2009 and recently Lifehacker picked up a similar solution posted on GuidingTech. Briefly, you can use Outlook Rules and Alerts to launch a batch file when an email that matches specific criteria comes in. Your batch file will trigger the quick Shut Down using the command mentioned above and described in more detail below.

Outlook Filter

Command Line Shutdown

The command line shutdown was mentioned briefly above, but deserves its own space to elaborate on the syntax. In the line shutdown.exe /s /t 0, s stands for shutdown, and /t 0 for the time until shutdown, in this case zero seconds. These values can of course be tweaked. Replacing /s with /r will restart the computer. Adding /f will force running applications to close. With c ” message “ you can add a custom note of up to 127 characters.

Microsoft TechNet has a complete rundown of the syntax. Once you know these values by heart, you can manually shut down your computer any way you like. Click WIN+R to launch the Run dialog , type the desired command, and hit Enter.

Shut Down Run

Upgrade To Windows 8.1 Update 1 Windows 8.1 Update Is Here! What It Is & How To Get It Now Curious about the latest Windows 8.1 Update or not sure what this is about? KB2919355 is a cumulative update that comes with useful features. It can also be removed in case it causes issues. Read More

You may have figured out how to shut down Windows 8 How To Shut Down Windows 8 Windows 8 brings the biggest changes to the familiar Windows interface since Windows 95. The Shut Down option isn’t where you’d expect to find it – in fact, the entire classic Start menu and Start... Read More , but did you know it’s even easier in Windows 8.1? Microsoft added a shut down option to the power user menu 8 Ways To Improve Windows 8 With Win+X Menu Editor Windows 8 contains an almost hidden feature you need to know about! Press Windows Key + X or right-click at the bottom-left corner of your screen to open a menu you can now customize. Read More , which you can open with the keyboard shortcut WIN+X. With Update 1, most users will also see a Power button next to their profile photo in the top right of the Start screen.

Windows 8.1 Update 1 Power Button

Why Shut Windows Down In The First Place?

Patience is a limited resource and you need it for more important things than waiting on Windows. Many users claim that Windows hibernation doesn’t work When Power Saving Fails: Fixing Windows 7 Hibernation Issues When you use the hibernate shut-down option, Windows 7 saves the contents of your computer’s memory to disk and powers off the computer. If your computer can’t hibernate or isn’t resuming from hibernation properly, there... Read More  well, but for me it’s been doing fine for years. There is something reassuring about returning to where you’ve left off the previous day.

Do you shut down your computer or do you let it run Energy Saving Tips For Buying & Using Electronics Electronics make up a significant portion of your household energy costs. Computers, printers, and WiFi routers alone account for around 25% of your electricity bill. While electronics are becoming more efficient, their increased use offsets... Read More ? Do you know of any other smart shortcuts or options I didn’t mention? Please share in the comments!

Related topics: Windows 7, Windows 8.

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  1. Kim
    August 7, 2016 at 11:57 am

    I prefer to do a 'Complete Shutdown' (or real shutdown meaning to S5 state). I do this because I prefer to automatically start my computer using the computer's UEFI/BIOS Power On By Real Time Clock. To use this function, you need to be in a complete shutdown S5 state.

    If I can ever figure out how to keep the PCI-E Network Interface Controller powered up while in the Complete Shutdown (S5 State) (which it ordinarily is supposed to do - Windows does something to defeat this function), I can then do Wake On LAN remotely to start my computers if I ever have a need to do so. To do Wake On LAN, you must be in the Complete Shutdown (S5 State). This happens to be a pet peeve of mine as I am vehemently opposed to Microsoft telling us how we must start our computers. Starting our computers is a UEFI/BIOS function and not a function of the Windows OS. Worse is all the options to support Wake On LAN are in Windows but then Windows does something to defeat those settings and does not make it self evident that you cannot do this function. You have to do some digging to find documentation which states Windows doesn't support Wake On LAN even though the options show you should be able to do so. Many people want to do this also as I've discovered through various forums. Many of those people are Desktop/Tower users whereas the ones who probably aren't concerned over this are Laptop or other portable device users where they do not want to conserve even the Network Interface Controller power. Desktop users on the other hand do not have a power/battery concern.

    I then set a Windows Task Schedule to execute the 'shutdown /s' command at a time of my choice each day to regularly shutdown my computer automatically. Since I run an Email Server for which I want my system to be up most of the day to be able to accept emails and I could have a need to connect remotely to my computer, doing the Power On By PCI-E coupled with the Windows Task Schedule to shutdown my computer, I can leave my computer running unattended if I am ever away from my computers for any extended period of time.

    • Tina Sieber
      August 8, 2016 at 6:20 am

      Thank you for your elaborate comment, Kim.

  2. Nissan
    July 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    For windows 8.1, use Win+X then U and U for much much much quicker shutdowns.

    • Tina S
      July 4, 2014 at 7:34 pm

      Thanks for sharing this keyboard shortcut, Nissan!

  3. Bogdan C
    July 3, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I am an ”Hibernate” user for years. It's much faster than shutdown+start (at least on my laptop). I only use shutdown/restart after windows updates.

  4. Rsaab
    July 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    WIN + R opens 'Run' not CTRL + R. Too many errors for a professional article.

    • Tina S
      July 2, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      Touché. And fixed.

  5. Kai M.
    July 2, 2014 at 3:02 am

    Instead of opening the Run window and typing the command, I prefer to just use a .bat file

    You can easily create one by opening Notepad and typing: shutdown -s -t 0 -f on the first line and saving it as a .bat file some place convenient (like your desktop). Then when you want to shutdown just double click the file to run the command. Done!

    • Tina S
      July 2, 2014 at 7:20 am

      Of course! I should have thought of that one. Thanks for adding it, Kai.

      We even have an article on how to create a simple batch files.

    • Nagga2000
      February 1, 2015 at 11:43 pm

      Does not work with Windows 10. But by creating a shortcut like above, it works flawless! :)
      Thank you!

  6. Jurmy C
    July 2, 2014 at 1:23 am

    I'm powering off my lappy with 3 easy keyboard strikes Win key ->left arrow-> enter. When ever i want to schedule the power off i use a small and easy and old software "poweroff".

    • Tina S
      July 2, 2014 at 7:17 am

      That's a good one, too. Thanks for sharing, Jurmy!

  7. Chinmay S
    July 2, 2014 at 1:14 am

    Alt + F4 opens Shutdown dialog not Ctrl + F4.

    • Tina S
      July 2, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      Good catch and fixed.

  8. Christian
    July 1, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    You can also use the Group Policy Editor to run scripts at login/logoff and/or start/shutdown. Might not be available on all Windows versions though.

    • Tina S
      July 1, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Great admin tip!