It may seem rudimentary, but if you’re new to Windows–or just upgrading from Windows 7–the simple option to sign out of your account is a bit hidden in Windows 8 and 10. And even we geeks can be baffled at times, especially when Microsoft decides to hide common features away in new places. You can still sign out of Windows from the Start menu; it’s just not part of the Power options any more.
Here are a few different options you have for signing out in Windows 8 and 10.
Sign Out Using the Start Menu
Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft moved the sign out option from the Power button on the Start menu. They also started calling it “sign out” instead of “log off.” I’m almost embarrassed to admit how many times I clicked on the Start menu’s Power button, thinking I had just overlooked it. Now, you access the sign out option by clicking your user account name at the very top of the Start menu. (This is also where you’ll get the option to switch users–any other users on your PC will show up at the bottom of this menu.)
Logically, it makes sense. Power options affect the computer and user options–such as changing account settings and switching users–are grouped under the user name. The trouble is, they didn’t make it obvious the user name was something to click on and gave no indication about where the sign out option had moved.
Sign Out Using the Power Users Menu
The Power Users menu was introduced in Windows 8, and is one of the handier new additions to the taskbar. You can access it by right-clicking the Start button or pressing Windows+X on your keyboard. Just point your mouse at the “Shut down or sign out” item and then click “Sign out.”
For some reason, they thought it would be handy to group sign out with other power options for us power users rather than off on its own. Go figure. Note also that if you access the Power Users menu by pressing Windows+X instead of right-clicking, the menu underlines letters you can use to choose the commands from your keyboard. So, for example, you could press Windows+X, u, i for a quick keyboard-only sign out.
Sign Out Using Ctrl+Alt+Delete
As in most previous versions of Windows, you can also still sign out from the security screen you get when you press Ctrl+Alt+Delete.
Note that this is just the security screen you get when you press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, not the actual lock screen. You cannot sign out from the lock screen, so if you’ve locked your computer, you’ll need to enter your password to get back in and then sign out.
Sign Out Using Alt+F4
For this technique to work, you need to be looking at your desktop. Close or minimize all open windows or just hit Windows+D to zip straight to a desktop view. When viewing the desktop, press Alt+F4 (also the standard shortcut for closing most windows). In the Shut Down Windows dialog that appears, select “Sign Out” from the drop-down menu and then click OK.
Whether you favor clicking your way to a sign out or using keyboard shortcuts, Windows has you covered–and then some. It just may not be immediately obvious to Windows veterans.