How to Shut Down Windows 8

9 ways to completely shut down Windows 8 & 8.1

What to Know

  • Use the power button from the Start Screen, Charms bar, sign-in screen, or Ctrl+Alt+Del screen.
  • Another method uses the Power User Menu (Win+X); select Shut down or sign out.
  • Whichever method you use, press Shut down to turn off Windows 8.

Windows 8 was a big change from Microsoft's previous operating systems, meaning there was a lot to relearn, including something as simple as how to shut it down!

Fortunately, improvements to this version of Windows, like Windows 8.1, made turning it off easier by adding some additional methods of doing so.

Having almost a dozen ways to shut down your computer isn't all bad, mind you. You'll be happy to have these options if you need to turn your computer off during certain kinds of problems.

While most computers will support all or almost all these shutdown methods, some may not due to restrictions set by the computer maker or Windows itself, or due to the type of computer you have (e.g., desktop vs tablet).

Shut Down Windows 8 From the Power Button on the Start Screen

The easiest method, assuming your computer is working properly, is to use the virtual power button available on the Start Screen: Select the power button icon from the Start Screen, and then choose Shut down from the small menu that pops down.

Shut down option from Windows 8 start screen

Don't see the power button? Either your computer is configured as a tablet device, which hides this button to prevent your finger from accidentally tapping it, or you've not yet installed Windows 8.1 Update.

Shut Down Windows 8 From the Settings Charms

This shutdown method is easier to pull off if you're using a touch interface, but your keyboard and mouse will do the trick, too:

  1. Swipe from the right to open the Charms Bar.

    If you're using a keyboard, it's a bit faster if you use WIN+i. Skip to Step 3 if you do that.

  2. Choose the Settings charm.

    Windows 8 charms bar
  3. Select the power button icon near the bottom.

  4. Select Shut down.

    Windows 8 shut down menu option
  5. Wait while your computer completely turns off.

This is the "original" Windows 8 shutdown method. It should come as no surprise why people asked for a way to shut down using fewer steps.

Shut Down Windows 8 From the Win+X Menu

The Power User Menu, sometimes called the WIN+X Menu, is one of our favorite secrets about Windows 8. Among many other things, it lets you shut things down with just a few clicks:

  1. From the Desktop, right-click the Start Button.

    Using the WIN+X keyboard combination works, too.

  2. Click, tap, or hover over Shut down or sign out, near the bottom of the Power User Menu.

  3. Pick Shut down from the small list that pops open to the right.

    Shut down Windows 8 from the Power User Menu
  4. Wait while Windows 8 shuts down completely.

Don't see a Start Button? It's true that you can still open the Power User Menu without it, but it just so happens that the Start Button and the option to shut down Windows 8 from the Power User Menu, appeared at the same time—with Windows 8.1.

Shut Down Windows 8 From the Sign-In Screen

While this might seem a little strange, the first opportunity you're given to shut down Windows 8 is right after the OS is done starting:

  1. Wait for your device to finish starting up.

    If you want to shut down Windows this way, but your computer is running, you can either restart Windows yourself or lock your computer with the WIN+L keyboard shortcut.

  2. Select the power button icon at the bottom-right of the screen.

  3. Choose Shut down from the small menu that pops up.

    Windows 8 shut down option from locked screen

If a computer problem is preventing Windows from working properly, but you do get as far as the Sign-in screen, this little power button icon is going to be very useful in your troubleshooting. See Method 1 from our How to Access Advanced Startup Options in Windows guide for more.

Shut Down Windows 8 From the Windows Security Screen

One of the quickest ways to shut down Windows 8 is from a place that you may have seen before but weren't quite sure what to call:

  1. Use the Ctrl+Alt+Del keyboard shortcut to open Windows Security.

  2. Select the power button icon in the bottom-right corner.

  3. Choose Shut down from the small pop-up that appears.

    Windows 8 shutdown from ctrl-alt-del window

Don't use a keyboard? You can try using Ctrl+Alt+Del with the on-screen keyboard, but we've had mixed results with that. If you're using a tablet, try holding down the physical Windows button (if it has one) and then press the tablet's power button. This combination mimics Ctrl+Alt+Del on some computers.

Shut Down Windows 8 With Alt+F4

The Alt+F4 shutdown method has worked since the early days of Windows and still works equally well to shut down Windows 8:

  1. Access the Desktop if you're not already there, and minimize any open programs, or at least move any open windows around so you have a clear view of at least some section of the Desktop.

    Exiting any open programs is fine, too, and probably the better option since you'll be shutting down your computer.

  2. Select anywhere on the Desktop's background. Avoid selecting icons or program windows.

    The goal here, if you're very familiar with Windows, is to have no program in focus. In other words, you want nothing at all selected.

  3. Press Alt+F4.

  4. From the Shut Down Windows box that appears on the screen, choose Shut down from the list of options, and then OK.

    Shut down windows screen in Windows 8

If you saw one of your programs close instead of the Shut Down Windows box, it means you didn't deselect all open windows.

Shut Down Windows 8 With the Shutdown Command

The Command Prompt is full of useful tools, one of which is the shutdown command which, as you'd guess, shuts down Windows when used the right way.

Windows will begin shutting down immediately after executing this command, so be sure to save anything you're working on before doing this.

Open Command Prompt and type this, followed by Enter:

shutdown /p
Windows 8 shutdown command

The shutdown command has a number of additional options that give you all kinds of control over shutting down Windows, such as specifying how long to wait before the shutdown.

Shut Down Windows 8 With the SlideToShutDown Tool

Frankly, we can only think of a few strange-but-serious problems with your computer that might force you to resort to this Windows 8 shutdown method, but we have to mention it to be thorough:

  1. Navigate to the System32 folder here:

  2. Locate the SlideToShutDown.exe file by scrolling down until you find it, or search for it in the search box in File Explorer.

    SlideToShutDown Windows 8 file
  3. Open SlideToShutDown.exe.

  4. Using your finger or mouse, pull down the Slide to shut down your PC area that's currently taking up the top half of your screen.

    You only have about 10 seconds to do this before the option disappears. If that happens, just repeat step 3.

    Windows 8 slide to shut down your PC screen

One very legitimate way to use this method is to create a shortcut to the program so that turning off Windows is just a single tap or double-click away. The Desktop taskbar would be a good place to keep this shortcut. To make a shortcut, right-click or tap-and-hold the file and go to Send to > Desktop (create shortcut).

Shut Down Windows 8 by Holding Down the Power Button

Some ultra-mobile computers are configured in a way that allows a proper shutdown after holding down the power button:

Please know that shutting down your computer this way, if not supported by your computer maker, doesn't allow Windows to safely stop processes and close your programs, potentially causing some very serious problems. Most desktop and non-touch laptops are not configured this way!

  1. Press and hold the power button on the device for at least three seconds.

  2. Release the power button when you see a shutdown message appear on-screen.

  3. Choose Shut down from the menu of options. ​

    Since this is a manufacturer-specific Windows 8 shutdown method, the exact menu, and list of shutdown and restart options may differ from computer to computer.

Windows 8 Shutdown Tips & More Information

Here are a few things that are important to know about shutting down your Windows 8 computer.

Will Windows 8 Shut Down If I Close My Laptop Lid, Press the Power Button, or Leave It Alone Long Enough?

No, not usually, anyway.

In most cases, any one of those three scenarios will just put Windows to sleep, a low-power mode that's very different from shutting down.

Sometimes, a computer will be configured to hibernate in one of those cases, or sometimes after a certain period of sleep. Hibernating is a no-power mode, but is still different from truly shutting down your Windows 8 computer.

Why Does My Computer Say 'Update and Shut Down' Instead?

Windows automatically downloads and installs patches to Windows. Some of those updates require that you restart your computer or shut down and turn it back on again before they're completely installed.

When Shut down changes to Update and shut down, it just means you may have to wait a few extra minutes for the Windows 8 shutdown process to complete.

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