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Change the Windows 7 or Vista Power Buttons to Shut Down/Sleep/Hibernate

The default action for the Power button on the start menu in Windows 7 is shutdown, and in Vista is Sleep, which isn’t necessarily useful for everybody, so we’ll explain how to change it here.

Change Windows 7 Shutdown Button

Windows 7 makes it really easy – just head into the Start Menu / Taskbar preferences by right-clicking on the start menu and choosing Properties.

All you need to do is change the drop-down for Power Button Action to whatever you would prefer.

Change Windows Vista Power Buttons
You can configure this setting easily by using the advanced power settings panel, which is a little tricky to get to normally, but we’ll take the shortcut.

Open a command prompt (type cmd into the start menu search bar), and then type in the following:

powercfg.cpl,1

You could also take the long route (Control Panel \ Power Options \ Change Plan Settings \ Change Advanced Power Settings)

Once you get to this dialog, browse down as shown to “Power buttons and lid”

From here, you can change the options:

  • Power button action – Changes the hardware power button action
  • Start menu power button – Changes the power button on the Start Menu

You can change the power button to either Sleep, Hibernate or Shut Down, or even nothing for the hardware power button.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/19/07

Comments (88)

  1. Michael

    I tried changing to shutdown but it never takes. I even tried to change to HIGH PERFORMANCE and hit APPLY then OK and it still didn’t take. Am I missing doing something?

  2. rob

    Hey there,

    In my copy of Vista the command you gave gives this error:
    “powercfg.cpl,1 Windows cannot find ‘powercfg.cpl,1′. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again.”

    Also, the Control Panel path is different for me:

    Control Panel -> Power Options -> Change power-saving settings -> Change plan settings (of the plan currently selected) -> Change advanced power settings.

    Then you can do the rest of your steps. Thanks for this.

  3. steve

    where is the “ask me what to do” option?

    Is there a way to tweak that?

  4. Nilesh

    Good work, turn off my laptop by start menu power button work.
    how do i configure sleep button as hibernet or log off.

  5. Scott

    This worked perfectly for me. Thanks for the tip. No thanks to Microsoft for the poor config choice (or is this Dell’s doing…) I wonder how many people are wondering why their laptop battery is always drained….

    Thanks again,
    Scott

  6. assive2007

    This website is on top of my list, VERY well bookmarked in a safe place!! Thanks to whoever owns it!

  7. Nick

    I too ask where is the “ask me what you want to do” option as in windowsXP?

    Obviously none of the Vista Usability Testers have kids?

  8. The Geek

    I think annoyance at Vista’s shutdown options is widespread…

    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/11/21.html

  9. Rick

    Anyone know a way to set this button to “restart” instead? IMHO doing “user” support, they need to reboot more often than shutting down and having this option right up front would be more advantageous. Six of one, half dozen of the other, I guess…

  10. elitemµsician

    Anyone know how to completely disable the start menu power button.
    Or… just simply have it log off insted of going to sleep or shuting down.
    Im sure there are ways of doing things like this… cause I mean Im sure you cant just shut down a public computer.

  11. Rick

    EliteMusician,

    There is a group policy to remove all options: User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Start Menu and Taskbar. Locate “Remove and prevent access to the Shut Down, Restart, Sleep and Hiberate Commands” and enable it.

    HTH,
    Rick

  12. elitemµsician

    Thanks Rick… I never knew (or even cared for that matter) how to access all of those options until now. I never needed to until I got labeled the “Tech-Geek” at work.
    Even though It took a little searching to figure out what you were talking about, you’ve been very helpful. Thanks

    -elitemµsician-

  13. Lawrence Moss

    The reply from Rick, June 27 looks useful but where can I find the commands that he lists starting with User Cofiguration etc. please?

  14. Rick

    Lawrence,

    Click the start orb, then in the “Start Search” box (or Run if you have it configured to be showing) type “gpedit.msc” (w/o the quotes). Click continue when the security dialog comes up. This will bring up the Group Policy Editor, from there just follow the path I outlined in the posting. If you click on the Setting column it will sort them by name making the “Remove and prevent…” option easier to locate.

    HTH,
    Rick

  15. Lawrence Moss

    Rick

    Many thanks for your help

    Lawrence Moss

  16. Diane Stott

    I have a desktop w/ vista. Every time it goes into sleep mode, the computer freezes, and I have to shut it off and restart. Can you help?

  17. Nikolaus Nacz

    Could someone tell me please how can I activate the Password manager in Netscape 9.0b2 when I did not
    let it save the first time it asked me ? My OS is Windows XP Home.
    Many thanks.
    Nikolaus

  18. Tommy

    THANK YOU. This has always been one of those “annoying, but I’ll get around to it later” things for a while, glad you have this info posted

  19. Dave

    Thank you very much. This was another one of those nagging frustrations that I never had time to deal with and that gets me to thinking fondly of Microsoft…..

  20. joe

    How do i get the power management tabs back in keyboard and mouse in vista?…i have a aspire 5610z and the tabs were there when i purchased it…but lately i looked and they were gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…THANKS.

  21. Larry

    Is it possible to make the sleep button act as power off. The keyboard I have has a sleep button and in XP it was set to turn off the pc which saved me bending down. I would like the same feature in Vista.

  22. dennis rosario

    how to deactivate the (user-defined activated)in my power plan which is set in high power performance
    easy to drained my battery..im using windows vista…i try to change in Balanced setting still cannot do.

  23. axet

    How to change power button to show “shutdown dialog”, like in windows xp. same as you see when you press alt+f4 on desktop?

  24. Jenn

    Hi I have a problem with my dvd burner not reading dvd disc cd’s it reads just fine the problem only started a couple of weeks ago on my Acer Aspire T310 running XP Pro

    Thanks for any help you can give me for this problem Regards Jenn

  25. tbp

    Jenn,
    Not sure what your problem is. Does it read DVD’s or not?
    BTW, CD is an abbreviation for compact disc.
    I might be able to help you with your problem, but your question might do better on a more appropriate thread.

  26. Teodor

    In response to Rick.
    While acting on Group Policy object “Remove and prevent access to the Shut Down, Restart, Sleep and Hiberate Commands” marginally solves the problem with no “Ask me what to do” screen (it’s a big issue fo me too because it’s more easy than before to accidentally shutdown the PC which is VERY frustrating for a server though), this basically means you cannot shutdown your computer. You can logoff, but no shutdown. This is very frustrating on its own.
    We just want the confirmation screen after we push the ShutDown button/link in start menu.

  27. Rick

    Teodor,

    I agree that these options need more flexability. If there is an “always confirm shutdown” option, I havent found it yet. In the meantime, you could write a simple app / script to meet your needs, and it doesnt get much simpler than this one…

    Result = Msgbox (“Are you sure that you want to shut down?”,4,”Confirm Shutdown”)

    if (Result = 6) then
    Set WshShell = WScript.CreateObject(“WScript.Shell”)
    Return = WshShell.Run(“shutdown.exe /f /s /t 30″,1,false)
    End If

    Wscript.Quit()

    Copy and paste that into notepad, save it as something like MyShutdown.vbs, create a shortcut to it somewhere and use that as your shutdown. The “/t 30″ is the countdown, adjust as you see fit. Just a thought. The snippet is far from polished, but seems to work on the box I’m sitting at now.

    To all you VBS’ers who are about to flame my code, its just an example, not an application so please keep your comments to yourself. :P

    Thanks,
    Rick

  28. Teodor

    Rick,
    yes, after some researching, I didn’t find such option neither, and I came up to a similar solution as you.
    It is plain old batch file with content similar to this:

    choice /c yn /t 5 /d n /m Shutdown computer?
    if ERRORLEVEL==2 goto noshut
    shutdown /s /t 1
    :noshut

    and similar for RestartMe.bat

    I’m not familiar with VBS, but with C# so maybe using PowerShell will be the preferred way when I get familiar with PowerShell’s exact syntax.

  29. Mital

    Change the Windows Vista Power Buttons to Shut Down

    I tried this but when i click shutdown from start menu, the computer still reboots, is there a way to shutdown when i click shutdown or is it problem with vista install? Please help..

  30. Rick

    Hello Mital,

    Can we assume that you “tried this”, you mean the steps at the very beginning of this thread? If so, can you please verify that your power options dialog looks exactly like the image at the top (as far as BOTH of those options saying “shut down”). Also, when you click the start orb, is the shutdown button (the button immediately to the right of the Start Search box), is reddish with a power-button logo on it (circle w/ a vertical line).

  31. Mital

    Rick,
    Yes the image above is exactly what i have. Also i click on shutdown button immediately right of start search box. When i click on it the computer reboots instead of shutting down.

  32. Me

    I’m trying to find out how to add the “Ask me what to do” option. Right now, I’m looking for the file on my other laptop (Windows XP) and I will copy it to this laptop (Windows Vista). I’ve tried the registry but no luck. If I knew what the file name was or even what the file type was.

    Also, does anyone know how to install Windows XP when I have Vista? I’m still used to XP since I’ve used it since I started using computers. I only had Vista just over a month. It came with the laptop when I bought it, they all had Vista. When I inserted the Windows XP CD, the Install Windows wasn’t highlighted like it should be and when I tried to re-format the hdd, it wouldn’t let me. I also put the Windows XP CD in while the laptop is booting up and try and install windows that way but still it wouldn’t work.

  33. Me
  34. Andrew

    Exactly what I was looking for! Thanks!

  35. Lee

    @ Me (= alisonmxo): so how did you do it ?? Which file does one need to swap with one from XP?

  36. Me

    I didn’t find any file or anything yet. I just edit the registry (Vista) to make it say that “Ask me what to do” and took a screenshot.

  37. Me

    I didn’t really do anthing yet. I just edited the registry (Vista) to make it say that “Ask me what to do” and took a screenshot. I’ll let you know when I fix it. You all I know is you need to get it set up so when you push the power button, it’ll open prompt.js (think thats what it is). It’ll bring up the pop-up asking you what to do (ex. restart, logoff, shut down etc.)

  38. Lee

    hi Me. Yeah that would be great if we can connect the registry key with the js-script (I also have it here). Would you please tell me the registry key in Vista where I need to start editing and experimenting :) ?

    Thanks,
    Lee

  39. Me

    I don’t know how or what to to in the registry at this time. I will continue to investigate it though. When I find out, I’ll let you know.

  40. Lee

    well you know you’re contradicting yourself, don’t you .. :-|

  41. Dan O'Dea

    I changed the “shutdown” button to “shut down”, but the machine will restart itself about 3 – 5 minutes after it has shut down. This is really annoying; how do I get it to shut down and stay powered down until I turn it on again?

  42. Lee

    1) apply the latest BIOS update
    2) apply the latest Chipset update
    3) apply the latest service pack for your Windows

  43. Bryan

    THANKS! The hibernate default has been driving me crazy. This solution worked like a charm.

  44. Dan O'Dea

    Lee, thanks, but the computer is brand-new (less than a week old). It has the latest updates, also. All the books I’ve checked also agree the computer should not restart unless RESTART is selected, and anyway RESTART usually restarts right away. In this case, the system restarts after about three minutes. I’ve decided, for the moment, to go with the Sleep option as it uses less power.

  45. Rick

    Dan,

    If I’m following this thread correctly, the computer is 100% powered down. Then it just turns back on? Please Confirm. You can confirm this by doing the shutdown, waiting until it appears to be down, then hit the power button on the case of the computer. If it goes through POST (the black screen or manufacturers splash screen), then it shut down completely.

    If so, it has nothing to do with Windows. No Power = No Windows Control.

    If would still also check the BIOS version as Lee suggested. Regardless of how old it is to you, there is no telling how log it has been on a shelf somewhere.

    Thanks,
    Rick

  46. The Geek

    @Everyone

    PLEASE move discussions over to the forum, which is designed for these types of questions. There are also a lot of people over there that can help out with advice.

    http://www.howtogeek.com/forum/

  47. webterractive

    I changed the setting to Performance in the Power Options and the button has now changed to the Power Off instead of the Sleep. Initially I tried the Balanced option and changed the setting there for the “Menu Power Button” and when I pressed it nothing happend, the screen went blank and then I just moved the mouse and the session came back on. It never left, so I changed it to Performance and selected the menu power button to turn off the computer and viola! it’s a different icon, the power-off icon.

  48. Sean

    Just remember that with a laptop you’ll have to do this three times, once for balanced, power saver, and high performance. I was totally puzzled until I figured that out. You’ll also need to get to it the manual way so you can select the power options for each plan.

  49. Philip

    This is great. I think I’m the only one where I work that thinks this is so annoying. I wouldn’t have figured out how to make ‘Shutdown’ the default for shutting down. Thanks! :D

  50. Asim

    I changed the setting and it worked great…

    Thanks

  51. Julie

    Thank you SO SO SO SO much for posting this very valuable information. Pressing the “shut down” and the computer going into SLEEP mode was driving me bomkers. Seriously I should have bought a Mac. This Dell (and VISTA) has been nothing but a hassle. Did I mention the hard drive on my brand new — 4 month old dell — had to be replaced?!!!!

    Thanks for the great info about power controls.

  52. Kezpipa

    Woohoo! Thanks again, another awesome tip. PS lol @ the IT inquiry line within this comment thread.

  53. Merz

    Like others, thanks very much for this tip. I was also going crazy trying to figure out how to get the shutdown button to turn off the comp instead of going into sleep mode.

  54. sophie

    hey guys :)

    well my problem is kinda the opposite, i’ve just installed one of the updates that keeps on popping-up and it was for sp1 i think… the problem is i want the sleep function back :( i dont have it even if i go to the advanced power settings, there is no sleep choice… i’ve done some research on the internet and found someone with the same problem but no solution yet :( please any one, i can’t function w/o my sleep button :’(

    and thanx in advance ^_^

  55. Teri S.

    i went into the power options to change my power button well when i try to change it, it goes eather do nothing, sleep, or shut down. I would like it for hybernate if i clicked the power button. How do i get it to where it Hybernates to shut it down.

  56. Greg L.

    Thank you very much. That stupid sleep button has been annoying the hell outta me. Fixed.

  57. SA Kid

    Most helpful info. Thanks!

  58. jdengate

    I have sort of the opposite problem.. My power button options are set to “do nothing” when pressed. After I put my computer into Sleep or Hibernate, when I press the power button to turn it back on, the computer shuts down. Very frustrating that I can’t figure this out? Any suggestions?

  59. Universal Cynic

    Thanks! Just upgraded to Vista and was confused… I didn’t use the power options before because I use my Lenovo power software… so never got to the advanced panel.

  60. Michael

    Can someone tell me if this is right. My Toshiba Satellite A355-S6925 laptop does not want to turn off the lights that control the dvd player, the Toshiba logo at the bottom, they always stay on, I don’t believe it was like this before, can someone tell me if I am right or wrong. Thanks in advance…

  61. harpreet

    thank you sir,this problem was really annoying and disturbing one.but now you have helped us to replace
    thank you once again

  62. FeeFee

    Hey,

    My path seemed easier…..
    Control panel/System & Maintenance/Power Options…

    Then on side bar it asks ..
    choose what power button does.

    The next page is shows the power button with a drop down box that says shutdown,sleep,Hibernate,do nothing.

  63. John Syers

    Much obliged for the tip. The start menu power button had irked me for some time.

  64. Kara

    I’m trying to change the settings so when I press the power button on lid it will automatically do a proper shut down. I tried to run: powercfg.cpl,1 and go the long way and it wouldn’t. I think it’s because I have Windows 2007? Anywho, could you help me? Thx :)

  65. O.H.G.

    One happy googler.

    Thanks!

  66. mikerogs

    Does not work for me. I used different paths to get to the same “power options” box as in the demo above, changed to “shut down” for the start menu power button, hit apply, and ok. It shows that I have selected “shut down”, yet even after refreshing and even restarting, the default is still “sleep”. I have Vista, and the sleep thing bugs me to no end.

  67. John

    I am wondering if when i have a separate monitor connected such as a TV can i adjust setting so when i close laptop it doesnt shut laptop to black screen and force everythign to extended monitor i have already adjusted setting in power options “when I close lid” to “Do Nothing” but still when i have another monitor attached it still pushes everythign and close laptop to black screen

  68. Brian

    I have a sleep button on my keyboard like lots of people, which i conveniently have mapped to shutdown in windows xp. Now i have windows 7 and it cant manage a simple thing like that. Worse still, windows 7 has the worst case of memory allocation diarhea i ever came across. With WinXp, VC6 and MySQL i never ran out of memory. Now i have Win7, VS2008 and SQLServer, it runs out of memory doing the simplest of jobs, even though it has 2gb ram and i only just installed everything. What a shoddy effort. Whats the point of making a 32bit version of windows7 if it cant run in the practical maximum address space ?! Ever get the feeling that things are going backwards ?

  69. Gail

    This was EXTREMELY helpful and easy to follow. THANK YOU!!

  70. mduk

    Cool THX This Really HELPED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  71. Darryl

    Cheers for this, haven’t used Vista for a few years and I’d forgotten where you could change the settings

  72. Nicolai

    I too was looking for the “ask me what to do” option. But I kinda realised that just going to the drop down box and choosing what to do is the same thing.
    For those that dont know, on the right of the start menu power button, sometimes next to the lock button, is a little right facing arrow, click this and it brings up the list of shutdown options.

  73. Andrew

    it also drives me bonkers that in Windows 7 (x64) for the (keyboard) Sleep button you can only select between ‘nothing’, ‘sleep’ or ‘hybernate’, where the hell is ‘shutdown’? I’m getting a bit fed up with Microsoft engineers telling me I can’t do something I could do on older windows.. Guess I’ll have to resort to finding out where the settings are stored and change them using regedit…

  74. Ryan

    I would like to note that Windows 7 will change it back to Shut Down for you even if you have it set to Sleep when there are pending Windows Updates.

  75. tiantian

    hi!

    i am using windows 7 starter and i have selected a power saving power plan which puts my netbook to sleep whenever i close the lid or press the power button. however, i like it to turn the display off when i close the lid and shut down when i press the power button.

    so i assigned the power button to shut down on “choose what the power button does” page but it didn’t work. the power saving option of sleep still overrides my universal option.

    isnt the “choose what the power button does” page supposed to apply on all power plans and override them?

    then i tried to modify the advanced power option in my power plan and i wasnt allowed to change the sleep option. the dropdown menu for close the lid & power button only contains sleep.

    i even tried to change to other power plans like balanced or high performance and manually change the advanced option for close the lid & power button and they too only contains sleep. why?

  76. awaaz

    How to make my computer’s stand by button as a highlight ?It doesn’t work .

  77. naeem

    Hey there i have a 32 bit pc with vista and i love it but very recently when i open the start menu the shut down is missing and the little arrow that says the other optins like restartt hav gone and not to metion task manger as disapeared aslwell. All that little aroow says now is lock, switch user and log off this is very annoying and i have already tried the power optoin thingy and it didnt work

  78. Jack

    If my display is on power saving, pressing the power button only turns the display on, so I have to press it again to enter standby.
    How do I make it enter standby even if the display is on power saving on Win 7?

  79. mrtnclzd

    Thanks!

  80. Walter

    thanks… very useful…

  81. Zen

    Thnx!

    Very useful!

  82. Rusty69

    The power button on my Gateway desktop obviously controls fans as well as bios reboot, so every so often the damn thing wont boot up even though the fans and optical drive are all waking up to operational standby. Even the blue light on the switch fails to come on, which is an immediate clue that the computer is inoperable. Is this a hardware problem or a software curable issue? It happens either when I first turn on, or more frequently when I try to wake up from sleep mode (ie fans restart but OS doesn’t boot up)

  83. DieDubbelJoe

    I found a solution for the Sleep Button problem:
    Using this website: http://www.msfn.org/board/topic/117173-change-default-shutdown-option/
    I figured out that you can change the settings with powercfg.

    By typing powercfg /L you can see your schemes, and the one that’s active.
    In my case, the balanced one: 381b4222-f694-41f0-9685-ff5bb260df2e
    Then you search the SUB_GUID you wanna change with powercfg /Q:
    4f971e89-eebd-4455-a8de-9e59040e7347 (Buttons and lid)
    96996bc0-ad50-47ec-923b-6f41874dd9eb (Sleep button action)
    And you can see the available settings: 003 = shutdown

    Using powercfg to change the setting:
    powercfg -setacvalueindex 381b4222-f694-41f0-9685-ff5bb260df2e 4f971e89-eebd-4455-a8de-9e59040e7347 96996bc0-ad50-47ec-923b-6f41874dd9eb 3
    and
    powercfg -setdcvalueindex 381b4222-f694-41f0-9685-ff5bb260df2e 4f971e89-eebd-4455-a8de-9e59040e7347 96996bc0-ad50-47ec-923b-6f41874dd9eb 3

  84. Nathan

    Hey I’ve been having problems lately with my power settings. I have a dell desktop that has windows 7. when i leave it for the 30 minutes when its supposed to sleep i think it ends up hibernating. It ALMOST completely shuts off because i have to use the power button instead of shking the mouse to wake it up and it says “resuming windows” and it takes 1 – 2 minutes. I’ve set it in the power options to sleep and all and it still hibernates.
    Also every now and then (like in the middle of the night or anytime actually) it randomly tries to start of for literally one second and then is quiet. It does this about 6 times within about 10-15 seconds.
    Sometimes when i go to start it up after it hibernates i press the power button and it doesnt respond at all..i have to try about 10 tiimes to get it to work.

    Any answers? Please respond.

  85. Linda

    All I really want to do is change from vista’s drop down menu for sleep, etc..
    to just the 3 icons as windows XP offers for standby, turn off, restart.
    OR
    at least when I click the start button to shut down.. for the drop down menu to default to SHUT DOWN as the FIRST option. Cause others use my laptop and never drop down to it.. so it’s in standby all the time.
    Do I make sense of what I’m saying??/
    Thanks, Linda

  86. Cardsfan2

    I just bought a laptop recently that had Windows 7 on it. After having a desktop with Windows XP on it for many years, it’s a little hard to get used to. For instance, I was online all the time on my desktop thanks to cable internet. I’m still on cable but even after going to settings and scrolling down to sleep from the power action options and clicking APPLY, it still shuts down after 10 or 15 minutes! I’ve tried the hibernate mode and it does the same thing. There HAS to be a way to put my computer on never shut down mode but how do I it?? Plz help!

  87. eric

    DieDubbelJoe, You da man!!

    Now I can shut down my PC with my WMC remote, not just sleep.

    Thanks

  88. Amy5992

    This was really helpful, thank you! :D

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