How to quickly shut down Windows 10

Another version of Windows, another silly three-click process just to shut down your PC. Here are some faster alternatives.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
3 min read

It must be a point of pride in Redmond that even after all these years, you still have to click "Start" to shut down your computer.

Granted, the Start button is no longer labeled that way, having evolved into a Windows-logo button back in Vista. But that's still what it's called, and still how Microsoft refers to it. So even in Windows 10, you have to click "Start" to shut down your PC. Then you click Power, and finally Shut Down.

I'll never understand why Microsoft has steadfastly refused to add a one-click Shut Down button to the desktop. Fortunately, there are faster ways to turn off your computer.

Option 1: Reprogram the power button


When you're ready to shut down your PC, why not just press the power button? Why not, indeed! Except that on most computers, that button comes preprogrammed to do something else: put the machine into sleep mode.

To remedy that, click in Windows 10's Search field, type power, and then click Power Options in the search results that appear.

Next, in the list of options on the left, click "Choose what the power buttons do." As you'll see, there are two pull-down menus next to "When I press the power button" -- one each for On Battery and Plugged In (unless you have a desktop, in which case you'll probably see just the latter).

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Click that menu, then choose Shut Down. Click the "Save changes" button and you're done! Now, whenever you press the power button, your PC should immediately shut down.

Option 2: Add your own shutdown shortcut

If your PC's power button is inconveniently located, or you're just feeling indignant about Windows' three-click shutdown process, you can add a shutdown shortcut to your desktop.

Just right-click any open space on the desktop, then click New > Shortcut. In the Location field that appears, paste in the following:

%windir%\System32\shutdown.exe /s /t 0

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Then click Next and finish the shortcut setup. Presto! Now you've got a Shutdown icon; one double-click and it's buh-bye, Windows. You can also drag it to the Taskbar for single-click shutdown goodness.

Option 3: Remember to right-click

If you right-click the Start button, you'll see a lengthy pop-up shortcut menu -- with "Shut down or sign out" right near the bottom. Mouse over that option and then click "Shut down." This is still a slow, two-click method (with a mouse-over mixed in), but at least it's not three clicks.

The results of right-clicking the Start button. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Option 4: The ol' keyboard combo

Enlarge Image

Alt-F4 instantly makes this box appear.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

An oldie but goodie, pressing Alt-F4 brings up a Windows shut-down menu, with the shut-down option already selected by default. (You can click the pull-down menu for other options, like Switch User and Hibernate.) Then just press Enter and you're done.

Take note, however, that this works only when you're viewing the desktop. Alt-F4 is actually a global "close" command, so if you're not at the desktop, it will close whatever program is currently active. Still, for folks who prefer a keyboard command to reaching for the mouse, this is a quick two-step.

Have you found a faster/better/smarter way to shut down Windows 10? Let's hear it in the comments!