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Last updated January 1, 2006
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You can create desktop shortcuts to shutdown or restart Windows, or go into standy or hibernate mode, with a single click. You can put these shortcuts anyplace you like — on the desktop itself, the Quick Launch bar, your Start Menu — wherever.

To make a new shortcut, right-click on an empty part of the desktop (or inside a folder). Select New, then Shortcut. A “wizard” will pop up to guide you through the rest of the process. You will have to provide a command line, and then a name. The name can be anything you want.

Shutdown & Restart Shortcuts for Windows XP & Windows 2000

Windows 2000 (with the Resource Kit installed) and Windows XP (natively) have an actual shutdown command that can be launched from a command prompt — and which, therefore, also can be launched from a shortcut. To see all available options for this command, click Start, click Run, type CMD, and click OK. Then, in the box that appears, type:


You can also study the available options in the Microsoft KB 317371, “How to Use the Remote Shutdown Tool to Shut Down and Restart a Computer in Windows 2000.” (The article is basically suitable for Win XP also.)

This command starts a 30-second countdown for a shutdown or restart, which permits you to abort it (with a shutdown -a command). It you want the command to execute, use the -t flag, which lets you set the time lapse in seconds. The examples below use a 1-second delay.

For a shortcut to RESTART Windows XP:
SHUTDOWN -r -t 01

For a shortcut to SHUT DOWN Windows XP:
SHUTDOWN -s -t 01

Unfortunately — especially on Windows XP — this option only shuts down Windows. It does not shut down your computer, at least on most hardware. For that, on Win XP (and for most Win 2000 users also), I recommend the freeware utility Shutdown.exe (not to be confused with the Windows utility by the same name) by MS-MVP Andrej Budja. I’ve seen several shutdown utilities recommended, but this is the only one that I’ve seen actually shut down Windows XP and then powerdown the computer behind it. For more information on the tool, see here. After you place this utility in the root folder of C:, the commands for a shutdown, restart, or hibernate (respectively), each without a time delay, would be shutdown -u -t 0 for shutdown, shutdown -r -t 0 for restart, and shutdown -h -t 0 for hibernate.

Using the TSShutDn Utility

If you don’t want to use a third-party utility, you may be able to get by with a lesser known utility in Windows 2000 and Windows XP. The native commandline tool tsshutdn.exe was originally designed for shutting down servers, not work stations. It was introduced in Windows 2000, and retained in Windows XP. See MSKB 320188, “How to Use the TSSHUTDN Command to Shut Down a Terminal Server in Windows 2000 Terminal Services,” and MSKB 243202, “Windows 2000 Terminal Services Session Management Tools.” From a command prompt, type tsshutdn /? for a list of its subcommands and syntax. A command line of C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\TSSHUTDN.EXE 0 /DELAY:0 /POWERDOWN will powerdown most Windows 2000 and Windows XP computers, though some (according to correspondent “perris,” who first turned me onto this native utility) will get an error message 1702.

Customize Your Computer’s Power Switch

Another solution for Windows XP users involves using the power switch on your computer — but only after you’ve set it to shutdown Windows first! If you poweroff your computer without shutting down Windows (and letting your applications save their data and close, if necessary), you invite a whole lot of serious problems! The correct way to do this is: After a fresh reboot of the computer, in the Windows XP Control Panel click Power Options. Click the Advanced tab. In the Power Buttons section, under “When I press the power button on my computer,” select “Shutdown.” (If this is not visible on your Advanced tab, then your computer does not have the hardware capability to do this job correctly, or the capability is disabled in CMOS.) Click Apply. This sets your computer so that when you press the hardware power button it will first do a proper shutdown of Windows, and then poweroff the computer.

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