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How to, uh, turn Windows 8 off

With the Start button disappeared, shutting down Windows 8 can be a challenge. Here's how to coax the OS into turning itself off.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Shutting off Windows used to be a simple matter of clicking the Start button and choosing the "Shut down" option. But the Windows 8 beta has no Start button. So how do you shut it down?

Microsoft has concocted a series of maneuvers and keyboard shortcuts to shut down the new OS. Though slower and clumsier than going through the Start button, the new steps at least let you fully turn Windows 8 off.

The most basic way to shut down Windows 8 is through the Charms bar.

In the Metro interface, hover your mouse over the Zoom icon that appears in the lower right corner of the screen. The Charms bar should then pop up displaying several icons. Moving your mouse up the screen will reveal the names of each icon, including Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings. Click the Settings icon and then the Power Icon. You should see three options: Sleep, Restart, and Shut down. Clicking Shut down will close Windows 8 and turn off your PC.

You can more quickly reach the settings screen by pressing the Windows key and the i key. From there, clicking the Power button will give you access to the same three options mentioned above.

Another alternative is to sign out of your account and then shut down. You can either click your account photo or image at the top or press Ctrl/Alt/Del. Click the option to sign out. That will bring you to the opening screen for Windows 8 which you then need to pull up to access your login screen. The Shut down icon will be in the lower right corner. Click it to reveal the options for Sleep, Restart, and Shut down.

One more option is to switch to the Desktop and press Alt/F4. That will bring up a dedicated Shut down screen where you can choose to put the PC to sleep, restart, or shut down completely. You just need to make sure to save all your work and close all your applications first before you shut down using this method.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Laptop users have yet another way to shut down Windows 8 through the Power settings. Right-click on the hot corner that appears in the lower left of your screen--you can access this from the Metro UI or the Desktop. You should see a popup menu appear with a variety of Windows features, such as Network Connections, System, Device Manager, and Control Panel. Click the option for Control Panel.

Click the category for Hardware and Sound and then click the link for Power Options. From here you can set Windows to shut down if you press the power button or simply close the lid of your laptop.

Though you have several ways of shutting down Windows 8, none of them are quick or convenient. Even with the Start button gone, why didn't Microsoft include a more user-friendly way to close Windows 8?

With the new OS, Microsoft has set up a new hybrid boot-up process that lets you boot up more quickly. But to achieve this faster speed, Windows 8 actually needs to go into hibernation mode rather than a full shut down.

By moving the Shut down option to a more remote spot, Microsoft may be assuming that people will let their PCs hibernate instead of shutting them down completely. But I think users will be thrown by the lack of an out-in-the-open Shut down button.

There's still plenty of time for Microsoft to tweak Windows 8 between now and its final release. Let's hope that a more direct Shut down option is one of the beneficiaries.

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