How to Prevent Specific Users from Shutting Down Windows

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Windows features a ridiculous number of ways to shut down. You’ll find options on the Start menu, Administrative Tools menu, and the Login and Lock screens. You can also shut Windows down using keyboard shortcuts (Alt+F4 at the desktop) and even the command line. Here’s how to disable them all for specific users.

RELATED: How to Remove the Shut Down Button from the Windows Login Screen

So why bother removing shutdown access for users? There are several reasons. At home, you might want to lock that feature out for kids to prevent frustration. Or, if you use User Switching, you may have some lengthy task (like a download) running on your account while someone else uses their account. Locking out the shutdown function protects whatever you’ve got running. In a business, you might want to lock the shutdown feature out on a computer used as a kiosk. You can remove the shut down button just from the Lock and Login screens, which restricts shutting down to only users that can log in to Windows. But if you want things extra locked down, we’ve got you covered.

Home Users: Disable Shutdown for a User by Editing the Registry

If you have Windows Home, you will have to edit the Windows Registry to make these changes. You can also do it this way if you have Windows Pro or Enterprise, but just feel more comfortable working in the Registry. (If you have Pro or Enterprise, though, we recommend using the easier Group Policy Editor, as described in the next section.) Keep in mind, though, that when editing the Registry, you’ll need to be logged on as the user for which you want to disable shutdown.

Standard warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and misusing it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a pretty simple hack and as long as you stick to the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. That said, if you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.

To get started, log in as the user for whom you want to make these changes. Open the Registry Editor by hitting Start and typing “regedit.” Press Enter to open Registry Editor and give it permission to make changes to your PC. In the Registry Editor, use the left sidebar to navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

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Next, you’re going to create a new value in the Explorer key. Right-click the Explorer icon and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the new value NoClose .

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Now, you’re going to modify that value. Double-click the new NoClose value and set the value to 1 in the “Value data” box.

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Click OK, exit Registry Editor, restart your computer, and log in as the user for whom you made the change. That user should no longer have access to most shutdown functions (including sleep and hibernate), whether it’s from the Start menu, lock screen, or even the Alt+4 shutdown shortcut from the desktop. If they try using the shortcut method, users will see a Restrictions message instead.

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The only two shutdown methods that will still work are pressing the physical power button (if that option is set in Control Panel) and using the shutdown command at the Command Prompt. You can always disable the power button from shutting down Windows and then restrict users’ access to the Control Panel if you want. You can even disable the Command Prompt itself. If you follow the steps in that article to disable the Command Prompt using the Group Policy Editor, we’d suggest that you not also disable scripting. That way, you can create a batch file that activates the shutdown command and hide it somewhere on the system so that you still have a relatively easy way to shut down Windows. If you disable the Command Prompt for a user with the Registry Editor, it will not disable scripting, so you don’t have to worry about it.

If you want to re-enable the shutdown commands for a user at any time, just log back in as that user, fire up the Registry, and set the NoClose value back to 0 (or delete it).

Download Our One-Click Registry Hack

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If you don’t feel like diving into the Registry yourself, we’ve created two downloadable registry hacks you can use. One hack removes the shutdown ability for the current user and the other restores the shutdown ability. Both are included in the following ZIP file. Double-click the one you want to use, click through the prompts, and then restart your computer.

Shutdown Hacks

In Windows Pro or Enterprise, find the MSC file that you made for the users to whom you want to apply the policy, double-click to open it, and click Yes to allow it to make changes. In the Group Policy window for those users, in the left-hand pane, drill down to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar. On the right, find the “Remove and prevent access to the Shut Down, Restart, Sleep, and Hibernate commands” item and double-click it.

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In the policy window, click Enabled and then click OK.

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To test the changes, exit the Local Group Policy Editor, restart your computer, and then log on as the user (or a member of the user group) for whom you made the changes. If you want to re-enable shutdown, just follow these same instructions and set the policy back to Disabled (or Not Configured).

That’s all there is to it. It may be a change that is only useful in specific circumstances, but when you do need it, it’s an easy change to make.

Walter Glenn is a long time computer geek and tech writer. Though he's mostly a Windows and gadget guy, he has a fondness for anything tech. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.