How to use the Windows shutdown command

Martin Brinkmann
May 22, 2017

Most Windows users shut down the PC either through the start menu, Alt-F4 menu, or by pressing the power button on the device.

The shutdown command provides you with options to change a Windows computer's power state. It enables you to shut down, restart, hibernate the computer, log off a user, and customize the shut down experience. The command supports local and remote shutdowns on top of that, and you may use it to stop a shutdown or restart that is in process.

How to use the Windows shutdown command is the first part of a series that looks at important Windows command line programs.

The Windows shutdown command

windows shutdown command

You run shutdown from the command prompt or PowerShell interface. What you can do however is create shortcuts so that you don't have to write the commands each time you want to use them, but can simply click on the shortcut instead to run them. This is explained later in the guide.

First thing you need to do is open a command prompt window:

Tap on the Windows-key, type cmd.exe, and hit the Enter-key on the keyboard.

The following major commands are provided

  • shutdown /a -- This command stops a shut down or reboot process. Can be useful if Windows Update decided that it is time to reboot the PC, or if your actions or other programs started the process.
  • shutdown /s -- The shutdown command. This shuts down the computer when you run it.
  • shutdown /r -- Shuts down the computer, and restarts it afterwards.
  • shutdown /g -- Like shutdown /r, but will restart any registered program when the system has loaded.
  • shutdown /h -- Hibernates the local computer.
  • shutdown /l -- Logs off the current user.
  • shutdown /p -- Turns the computer off without prior warnings. Equals running shutdown /s /f /t 0

The following additional commands are supported

shutdown i graphical user interface
The shutdown /i GUI
  • /e -- This enables documentation for the shutdown of the computer.
  • /i -- Show the graphics user interface. Must be the first option of the command, and all other switches are ignored (as the graphical user interface is loaded).
  • /hybrid -- Shuts the computer down, and enables Fast Startup. Must be used with /s
  • /t 0 -- Sets the timeout period before the shutdown. The default is 30 seconds, and you may speed things up by setting /t 0.
  • /f -- Forces running programs to terminate without user warning.  Also /force.
  • /m \\computer -- Specify a remote computer that you want to run the command on.
  • /c "remark" -- Adds a comment that explains the reason for the shutdown or restart of the computer. Supports a maximum of 512 characters, and is displayed on the shutdown prompt.
  • /d -- Adds a reason for the restart using a system of codes. Basically, /d p:1:2 indicates a planned shutdown because of a hardware installation, while /d u:1:2 a user defined shutdown because of a hardware installation. You can leave out p and u to set an unplanned reason for the shutdown. The table with major and minor reasons is displayed when you run shutdown /?.
  • /o -- This command restarts the PC and loads the Advanced Boot Menu on the next start. Needs to be run with /r

Shutdown Command Examples

The following examples highlight some command shutdown command switches.

Run a fast shutdown. This forces applications to close, and sets the

  • shutdown /s /f /t:0

Restart the computer, and add a reason for the restart. Computer will restart in 30 seconds, as t command is not specified

  • shutdown /r /d u:2:1

This command shuts down the remote computer ComputerXYZ after 300 seconds forcefully, adds a reason for the shutdown, and displays the comment in the shutdown prompt.

  • shutdown /m \\ComputerXYZ /s /f /d p:1:2 /c "Computer will restart for maintenance, save your work" /t 300

Creating shutdown shortcuts

While you can run shutdown from the command prompt whenever the need arises, you may also create shortcuts or batch files so that you can run them with a double-click directly without having to open the command prompt or remembering the commands.

Option 1: Batch Files

shutdown bat

The first option that you have is to create a batch file.

  1. Right-click on the desktop or another location in Explorer, and select New > Text Document.
  2. Write or paste the shutdown command or commands that you want to execute using it, e.g. shutdown /s /f /t:0
  3. Save the document.
  4. Rename it to fastshutdown.bat (choose a different name depending on the purpose). Make sure the extension is .bat, and not .bat.txt.

Double-click on the file to test it. Make sure you save all your work before you do so to avoid any issues in this regard.

You can add multiple shutdown commands, for instance for several remote machines. Make sure each new command starts on a new line.

Option 1: Shortcuts

shutdown shortcut

Shortcuts work pretty much like batch files, but they are limited to a single command.

  1. Right-click on the desktop or another location in Explorer, and select New > Shortcut.
  2. Type or paste the command in the field on the "what item would you like to create a shortcut for" page. Click next.
  3. Name the shortcut afterwards, and click finish.

Shutdown Programs for Windows

You may run programs designed specifically to shut down Windows PCs. Most are quite old, but work just fine. Please note that some antivirus solutions may flag those because of what they do.

  1. Superfast Shutdown -- Long standing program, shuts down the Windows PC in record time.
  2. Shutdown Scheduler -- Lets you schedule the shutdown of a Windows computer
  3. Absolute Shutdown -- Designed to make shutting down Windows XP faster. May work on other versions of Windows as well.
  4. WinOFF -- Program designed for scheduling the shutdown of Windows computers.

Additional resources

How to use the Windows shutdown command
Article Name
How to use the Windows shutdown command
A comprehensive guide of the shutdown command of the Windows operating system. Includes examples, resource links, and more.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

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