Shutting Down or Restarting Windows

February 3, 2012

When you shut down your computer it closes all of your programs gracefully, exit Windows and turns off your computer. If you want to turn on your computer again, you have to press the power button to turn it on.

A restart or reboot does all of the same things as a shutdown, except that it doesn’t turn off your computer, instead, it starts Windows back up.

When you shut down or restart Windows XP, it would pop up a little window for each program that wasn’t closing as fast as Windows thought it should. The little window would give you the option to “End Now” or “Wait”.

With Windows 7 or Windows Vista, you will instead see a black screen that tells you it’s waiting for programs to close down before it shuts down. It’s supposed to have a list of programs that it’s waiting on, but sometimes that list is blank. This screen has two buttons. One labeled “Force shut down” and the other labeled “Cancel”.

What is happening is that Windows has told all of the programs running that Windows is going to shut down. All of these programs should then exit normally and Windows waits for them to do so. However, sometimes a program can’t shut down because it is waiting for input from the user. For example, let’s say you had a Microsoft Word document open and you had made changes but hadn’t saved those changes. If you try to exit the program, it will ask you about saving the document. When you shut down and windows tells Microsoft Word to exit, Microsoft word will ask you about saving the file. But you can’t see it because of the screen I described above. In that case, you would click the “Cancel” button. Save the file, or exit without saving, and then shut down again.

Actually, the best thing to do is close all programs yourself before you shut down or restart. That way you won’t run into these problems.

The “Force shut down” button should only be used if your computer hangs on this screen for more than a minute or so. In general, it’s best to wait for Windows to close down on its own.

One Response to “Shutting Down or Restarting Windows”

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