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Quick Tip: Restart Windows From Task Manager

For those times when Windows completely freezes and you can’t even open the start menu, you can also restart your computer from Task Manager instead of just powering the machine off.

Doing a hard reset isn’t as healthy for your computer’s internal components, this method would be preferable if possible.

There are two ways you can bring up Task Manager:

  • Hit Ctrl+Alt+Del and click on Task Manager.
  • Hit Ctrl+Shift+Esc to bring up Task Manager

Once you are in Task Manager, you can restart a hung process in the processes list, or you can click on Shutdown \ Restart to restart your computer.

Pretty simple tip, but very useful

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 05/7/07

Comments (16)

  1. whs

    Subj: Restart windows from task manager
    I think this is a very useful procedure. It is however unclear to me, how to restart a hung process.
    1. How do I know which of the listed processees hung the system up
    2. What exactly do I do then? (click on that process, roll down the ‘shut down’ options and hit
    restart???)
    An email answer would be appreciated. Thank you WHS

  2. bigminisachin1231

    this doesn’t work on vista…any ideas?

  3. NicRick

    To WHS and
    bigminisachin1231,

    Thanks for your quick reply, but after trying some things I have come to the conclusion that the example shown in the How to Geek Quick Tip regarding this subject only applies to XP Task Manager and not to Vista´s task manager. I guess that´s a plus for the XP OS, and for us Vista users another out of luck situation.

  4. mysticgeek

    Interesting … I would think Vista would have this option. Unfortunately I don’t have Vista installed right now … I bet The Geek has a solution. Which version of the 5 versions of Vista are you running? Also, did you install SP 1 yet?

  5. NicRick

    mysticgeek

    I have Vista – Business installed on my Toshiba laptop and I don´t have the SP1 installed as of yet since I am waiting to install it when it becomes public I understand early next month. Let´s hope you are right and The Geek works his magic on this one. Thanks for your concern.

  6. mysticgeek

    ************************************* UPDATE ******************************************

    For Shut Down to appear on the task manager you will need to have the Welcome Screen enabled for logging in … Also, if you are logging on to a domain more than likely it will not appear … unless your system administrator allows for it.

    We are also looking into a solution for this in Windows Vista. Stay Tunned!

  7. lily'smom06

    i have windows vista and used task manager to end a few backround processes to make another program run better and now i cannot remember whether the instructions were to restart the computer so that the backround processes will still be in tact or if i should shut it down and restart???? help please…..

  8. thesun

    ya. it doesnt work on vista. though if u press crtrl alt delete, u could log off from there. that might work though it would be much easier if u can do it directly from windows task manager

  9. jon

    Just make a batch file on your desktop with contents:
    shutdown -r -t 00
    and run it to restart your pc. Alternatively, if you want to shut down, replace “-r” with “-s”.
    For n00bs: a batch file is just a text file with .bat extension which makes it executable.

  10. Crow

    Very useful, much appreciated!

  11. SP

    Thank you for the wonderful tip. however I could find this options( Shut down tab ) in the Task managers in other pc’s ( with XP) . Does that mean its disabled , if so how do enable this .

    Thanks in advance .

  12. SP

    Sorry a bit correction, I meant I could not find the option (Shut Down ) in other XP PC’c .

  13. bryne

    hei thanks so much

  14. JH

    If you have vista click on ‘file,’ ‘new task (run)’ and type shutdown /t 1 /s which shutsdown windows with a timeout of 1. Use /f to force running apps to close.

  15. Larry Miller

    This is a useful technique.
    But it must be emphasized that this is only a last resort solution when a regular restart is impossible. A normal restart allows applications and services to terminate gracefully, updating disk files, etc. The method described will forcibly terminate all applications and services, regardless of what they may be doing. This can lead to data loss or corruption. Whenever possible use the normal method, reserving this one for when you really need it.

  16. robert scheel

    thank’s that solved my PROBLEM

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