How to Fix It When Windows 10 Won't Shut Down

Bypass Fast Startup to ensure your computer shuts down completely

The advice to "turn it off and turn it back on again" to repair a variety of problems—including driver errors or software glitches—doesn't work when a computer doesn't fully shut down. In most cases, the Windows 10 Fast Startup feature controls the type of reboot the computer performs.

The instructions in this article apply to Windows 10.

The shutdown command in Windows 10

Causes of Windows 10 Shut Down Issues

The cause of an incomplete Windows 10 shutdown is the Fast Startup feature, which allows the computer to start up quickly from a hibernation state. This process is useful most of the time to get a computer up and running quickly, but it may get stuck sometimes, and may not be a strong-enough shutdown to resolve certain system errors.

How to Get Windows 10 to Shut Down

Because most Windows 10 shutdown issues are caused by the Fast Startup feature, the best way to alleviate these issues is to try a more direct way of telling Windows to shut down. Try these alternative options before getting frustrated and holding down the power button.

If you only need to perform a full restart to clear a glitch or allow the software to install or uninstall fully, don't use the shutdown utility, use the restart feature instead. A restart flushes the memory and refreshes the Windows kernel as if the computer had been power cycled.

  1. Try a specific key combination. On the keyboard, press and hold Shift while pressing Power > Shut down on the Start menu or the lock screen. This approach bypasses the Fast Startup feature and brings the system to a powered-off status.

  2. Use the shutdown command. On most operating systems, the command line is a more direct way of interacting with the underlying functionality. So, when you need Windows to listen, the command line is a great way to do that.

  3. Run the Windows Troubleshooter. In the Start menu, type troubleshoot, then select Troubleshoot (system settings) from the search results. In the Troubleshoot window, under Find and fix other problems, select Power > Run the troubleshooter. Allow the Troubleshooter to run, then select Close.

    Windows 10 Troubleshoot window with the Run the troubleshooter button highlighted

Power Cycling

Avoid hard power cycles—that is, where you pull the plug, or press and hold the power button for 15 seconds to force an immediate hardware halt. These processes do not allow Windows the opportunity to write temp files to disk. This increases the odds of corrupting an important system file or losing your work.