How to Shut Down Windows 8

9 Ways to Completely Shut Down Windows 8 & 8.1

Screenshot of the Windows 8 Shutdown Process in action
Windows 8 Shutting Down.

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 down Windows 8!

Luckily, improvements to Windows 8, like Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update, made it easier to shut down Windows 8 by adding some additional methods of doing so.

Having almost a dozen ways to shut down Windows 8 isn't all bad, mind you.

With so many options, you have several paths you can take to completely shutting down your Windows 8 computer, choices you'll be happy you have if you need to turn your computer off during certain kinds of problems.

Important: While most computers will support all or almost all of the Windows 8 shutdown methods below, some may not due to restrictions set by the computer maker or Windows itself, due to the type of computer you have (e.g. desktop vs tablet).

Follow any of these nine, equally effective methods to shut down Windows 8:

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

The easiest way to shutdown Windows 8, assuming your computer is working properly, is to use the virtual power button available on the Start Screen:

  1. Tap or click the power button icon from the Start Screen.
  2. Tap or click Shut down from the small menu that pops down.
  3. Wait while Windows 8 shuts down.

Don't See the Power Button Icon? Either your computer is configured as a tablet device in Windows 8, which hides this button to prevent your finger from  accidentally tapping it, or you have not yet installed Windows 8.1 Update.

See my Windows 8.1 Update piece for help doing that.

Shut Down Windows 8 From the Settings Charms

This Windows 8 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.

    Tip: If you're using a keyword, it's a bit faster if you use WIN+I. Skip to Step 3 if you do that.
  1. Tap or click on the Settings charm.
  2. Tap or click the power button icon near the bottom of the Settings charms.
  3. Tap or click Shut down from the small menu that appears.
  4. Wait while your Windows 8 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 Windows 8 that took fewer steps.

Shut Down Windows 8 From the Win+X Menu

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

  1. From the Desktop, right-click on 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. Tap or click Shut down from the small list that pops open to the right.
  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 a Start Button, 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. See How to Upgrade to Windows 8.1 for help doing this.

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 Windows 8 is done starting:

  1. Wait for your Windows 8 device to finish starting up.

    Tip: If you want to shutdown Windows 8 this way but your computer is running, you can either restart Windows 8 yourself or lock your computer with the WIN+L keyboard shortcut.
  2. Tap or click the power button icon at the bottom-right of the screen.
  3. Tap or click Shut down from the small menu that pops up.
  4. Wait while your Windows 8 PC or device completely shuts down.

Pro Tip: 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 my How To Access Advanced Startup Options in Windows 8 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. Click or tap the power button icon in the bottom-right corner.
  3. Click or tap Shut down from small pop-up that appears.
  4. Wait while Windows 8 shuts down.

Don't Use a Keyboard? You can try using Ctrl+Alt+Del with the Windows 8 onscreen keyboard, but I'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 as well to shut down Windows 8:

  1. Open the Desktop if you're not already there.
  2. 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.

    Tip: Exiting any open programs is fine too, and probably the better option since you'll be shutting down your computer.
  3. Click or tap anywhere on the Desktop's background. Avoid clicking on any icons or program windows.

    Note: 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.
  4. Press Alt+F4.
  5. From the Shut Down Windows box that appears on the screen, choose Shut down from the What do you want the computer to do? list of options.
  6. Wait for Windows 8 to shut down.

If you saw one of your programs close instead of the Shut Down Windows box, it means that you didn't deselect all open windows. Try again from Step 3 above.

Shut Down Windows 8 With the Shutdown Command

The Windows 8 Command Prompt is full of useful tools, one of which is the shutdown command which, as you'd guess, shuts down Windows 8 when used the right way:

  1. Open the Windows 8 Command Prompt. The Run box is fine too if you'd rather go that route.
  2. Type the following, and then press Enter:
    shutdown /p
    Warning: Windows 8 will begin shutting down immediately after executing the above command. Be sure save anything you're working on before doing this.
  3. Wait while your Windows 8 computer shuts down.

The shutdown command has a number of additional options that give you all kinds of control over shutting down Windows 8. See my Shutdown Command Examples, Switches, & More piece for a full walkthrough of this powerful command.

Shut Down Windows 8 With the SlideToShutDown Tool

Frankly, I 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 I have to mention it to be thorough:

  1. Navigate to the C:\Windows\System32 folder.
  2. Locate the SlideToShutDown.exe file by scrolling down until you find it, or search for it in the Search System32 box in File Explorer.
  3. Tap or double-click on 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.

    Note: You only have about 10 seconds to do this before the option disappears. If that happens, just execute SlideToShutDown.exe again.
  5. Wait while Windows 8 shuts down.

Pro Tip: One very legitimate way to use the SlideToShutDown method is to create a shortcut to the program so shutting down Windows 8 is just a single tap or double-click away. The Desktop taskbar would be a good place to keep this shortcut.

Shut Down Windows 8 by Holding Down the Power Button

Some ultra-mobile computers with Windows 8 are configured in a way that allows a proper shutdown after holding down the power button:

  1. Press and hold the power button on the Windows 8 device for at least 3 seconds.
  2. Release the power button when you see a Shutdown message appear on -screen.
  3. Choose Shut down from the menu of options. ​

    Note: 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.
  4. Wait while Windows 8 shuts down.

Important: Please know that shutting down your computer this way, if not supported by your computer maker, doesn't allow Windows 8 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!

Windows 8 Shutdown Tips & More Information

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

"Will Windows 8 Shutdown if I Close My Laptop Lid, Press the Power Button, or Leave it Alone Long Enough?"

No, closing the lid to your computer, pressing the power button once, or leaving the computer alone will not shut down Windows 8. Not usually, anyway.

In most cases, any one of those three scenarios will just put Windows 8 to sleep, a low-power mode that is 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 than 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 8, usually on Patch Tuesday. 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 that you may have to wait a few extra minutes for the Windows 8 shutdown process to complete.

See How to Change Windows Update settings in Windows 8 if you'd rather these patches not automatically install.

More From Us