How to Fix It When Windows 11 Won't Shut Down

Easy fixes to finally get your PC to turn off

Powering down a device is a common first step when troubleshooting nearly any tech issue, and Windows 11 is no exception. But what do you do if you can't shut down? Fortunately, there are several easy fixes.

Why Is My Computer Not Shutting Off?

A computer that stays on when you try to shut down is often due to a problem related to software. Either the operating system is experiencing a bug or a program is interfering with the PC's ability to work properly.

Another reason for a computer to not shut down is a broken power button. This is a rare occurrence most people don't need to worry about, but even so, there are other ways to get Windows 11 to shut down even without using the physical power button.

It could also be the case that there's nothing wrong with Windows or the power button, but instead a specific setting is turned off, making it appear as though you can't shut down even when pressing the power button.

Computer Stays on When Trying to Shut Down?

There are several ways to shut down Windows 11, which we'll go over below. But before getting started, it's important to know how the power button on your computer works.

There's a setting in Windows controlling what happens when you press the power button just once. If the button is configured to do nothing when pressed just once, then your computer will stay on when you try shutting down.

This setting exists to prevent accidental shutdowns. You know, when you reach across the desk for something and accidentally touch the power and the shutdown procedure begins. You're likely aware no amount of pleading will stop the process. It happened often enough, Microsoft added a setting to customize the behavior of the power button.

To check, open Control Panel and go to Hardware and Sound > Power Options > Choose what the power button does, change the action to Shut down, and then select Save changes.

Shutdown and Save changes highlighted in Windows 11 power button settings

Windows 11 will now shut down normally after pressing the power button. If you still can't get it to turn off, continue with these steps.

What to Do If Windows Isn't Shutting Down

Depending on how you're used to shutting down, not being able to turn off the computer can usually be fixed by employing a different shutdown technique.

  1. Hold down the physical power button until the computer shuts off.

    Even if there's a software malfunction preventing you from turning off Windows 11 with the mouse or keyboard, most computers will respond to a press-and-hold of the power button. This works regardless of the power button setting in Control Panel.

    This isn't a normal way to turn off a computer because it doesn't give Windows the heads-up it needs to safely shut down. If you're able, ensure that open programs are shut down and all your work is saved.

  2. Alternatively, if you typically use the power button to shut down, try the normal way. It's possible that the power button is the source of the problem, in which case using any Windows 11 shut down method will turn it off.

    Open the Start menu and press the power icon to find Shut down.

    Shut down highlighted in Windows 11 Start menu power button options
  3. Type Ctrl+Alt+Del and then select the power icon, followed by Shut down.

    One reason you can't shut down Windows 11 is if the Start menu isn't responding and therefore not opening, but Ctrl+Alt+Del might still work.

    Shut down highlighted in Windows 11 Ctrl+Alt+Del power menu
  4. In some really specific situations, you might only have access to the command line, like Command Prompt. The power button, desktop, and mouse could all be broken and this will still work to shut off your PC.

    You can still shut down Windows 11 here with the shutdown command. Just enter this:

    shutdown /s
    shutdown s in command prompt on Windows 11
  5. One of the previous steps should have been successful and turning off the PC, but if this is a recurring issue, make sure Windows and your device drivers are fully updated.

    Run Windows Update to check for OS updates, and use a driver updater tool to install outdated or missing device drivers.

    Windows 11 checking for updates
  6. Troubleshoot when Windows Update gets stuck or frozen. There are a number of things you can try if this is the reason your computer won't fully shut down.

  7. Run System Restore to restore the computer to a previous state, presumably one where it was letting you shut down normally.

  • Is it safe to force shut down my laptop?

    Yes, it is safe to shut down your computer by pressing the power button. On older computers, a forced shut down could damage the hardware, but modern devices can be quickly turned on and off with a button.

  • Why does it take so long for my Windows 11 computer to shut down?

    Windows may take longer to shut down if you have a lot of background processes, services, drivers, or applications running. Use the Task Manager to shut down background programs you don't need, then update all of your software and drivers. If you're still having problems, open Troubleshoot Settings and run the Power troubleshooter.

  • How do I change my startup programs on Windows 11?

    Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to bring up Task Manager and select the Startup tab. Select the Status column to sort applications by Disabled and Enabled. If you don't know what something is, leave it alone.

  • How do I reboot my Windows 11 PC?

    Open the Start menu, select the Power icon, then choose Restart. Alternatively, press Ctrl+Alt+Del, then select Power > Restart.

  • How do I make my Windows 11 computer shut down on a timer?

    Use Windows Task Scheduler to schedule routine shutdown events. Alternatively, open Command Prompt, type shutdown -s -t and the number of seconds you want, then press Enter.

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