What to Do When Windows 10 Won’t Shut Down

A troubleshooting guide for getting Windows 10 to shut down properly

A woman is looking frustrated as she sits at a cafe with her laptop computer open.

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When Windows 10 won’t shut down, you may not actually notice it until you try to resolve system errors. The advice to “turn it off and turn it back on again” to repair a wide variety of problems (including driver issues or software glitches) doesn’t work when your computer doesn’t fully shut down. In other cases, you may see a Shutting down icon that just keeps spinning and spinning. Either way, the problem is usually pretty easy to fix.

The instructions in this article apply only to Windows 10.

Cause of Windows 10 Not Shutting Down

The cause of incomplete Windows 10 shutdown is often that you have enabled the Fast Startup feature, which allows the computer to start up more quickly from a hibernation state. This process is useful most of the time, to quickly get your computer up and running, 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 

  1. Try different methods to force a complete shutdown. First, on your keyboard, press and hold Shift while clicking Power > Shut down on the Start menu, or on the lock screen.

    Another way to do it is by using the command prompt. On your keyboard, press Win+R (Win is the Windows logo key). In the text field type cmd. At the prompt, type shutdown /s /f /t 0, then press Enter.

    Surprisingly, performing a Restart instead of a shutdown may also shut down your system entirely (and then automatically start it back up). To do this, from the Start menu, select Power > Restart.

  2. Disable Fast Startup. Before you actually perform this function, you’ll need to do a little detective work. Shut down your computer as you normally would, then start it back up. Time how long it takes for the system to bring up Windows and remember that number.

    1. Next, click the Start menu and type power.
    2. From the menu select Power & sleep settings.
    3. In the Power & sleep window, under Related settings, select Additional power settings.
    4. In the left column, select Choose what the power buttons do.
    5. In the System Settings window, under Shutdown settings, check to see if the options are available or greyed out. If they’re greyed out, near the top of the window select Change settings that are currently unavailable.
    6. Now, under Shutdown settings, deselect Turn on fast startup (recommended).
    7. At the bottom of the screen choose Save changes.

    Now shut down your computer and start it back up again, and time it to see how long it now takes for Windows to start. If the difference is insignificant, you can leave Fast Startup deselected, so you’ll always be completely shutting down your system. If the difference is greater, consider turning Fast Startup back on so your system takes less time to start for normal use (you can always turn it off again if you have issues in the future).

  3. Reprogram the power button.

    1. First, select the Start menu, and type power.
    2. Select Power & sleep settings.
    3. In the Power & sleep window, under Related settings, select Additional power settings.
    4. In the left column, select Choose what the power buttons do.
    5. In the System Settings window, under Power and sleep buttons and lid settings, for When I press the power button, choose Shut down from both of the pulldown menus under On battery and Plugged in.
    6. Select Save changes
  4. Run the Windows Troubleshooter.

    1. In the Start menu, type troubleshoot.
    2. From the menu, select Troubleshoot (system settings).
    3. In the Troubleshoot window, under Find and fix other problems, select Power > Run the troubleshooter.
    4. Allow the Troubleshooter to run, then select Close
  5. If, after all that, you’re still having problems, consider consulting with a professional to get your computer fixed