A finger about to press a laptop power button.
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It may seem silly, but turning on a Windows 10 or Windows 11 PC  is a necessary step to using your machine. Sometimes your PC won’t turn on when you expect it. How you fix it varies based on the type of PC you have, and we’ll show you how to do it.

Find and Push the Power Button

The first step to powering up your PC sounds really obvious: Find and push the power button. But it’s not always obvious which button it is.

On desktop PCs, the power button is usually larger than other buttons on the device, and it will usually have the international standard symbol for a power button on or beside it. That symbol is a circle with a vertical line passing through its top portion, and it represents the binary concept of  “1” and “0” for “on” and “off.”

Finger pushing power button.
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On many all-in one desktop PCs (that incorporate a display into the rest of the computer), the power button might be on the side edge of back side of the display, possibly near where the power cord plugs into the unit.

On laptop and tablet PCs, the power button can be anywhere—on the surface near a keyboard, a key on the keyboard itself, on a side edge, or on the back. In this case, it’s best to look in your device’s manual for assistance in locating the right button.

A finger pushing a laptop power button.
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Once you find the power button, try pushing it once. If the PC won’t turn on, hold your finger down on the button for about 3-5 seconds and see if the computer powers on. If not, you’ll need to follow some other troubleshooting steps in the sections below.

Make Sure Your PC is Plugged in

When a desktop PC won’t power on, the first step is to make sure it’s plugged in. First, look at the connector where the cord plugs into the power supply. If it’s removable, unplug the connector from the power supply and re-insert it firmly. Then follow the cable all the way to the wall plug (to make sure you’ve got the right cable if there’s a tangle around it). Unplug it from the wall and plug it back in firmly.

A plug inserted into a PC power supply.
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If your PC is plugged into an extension cord or outlet strip, try plugging it directly into a wall. The outlet strip or extension cord might be faulty. It’s also possible that the wall outlet is faulty. You can test the outlet, an outlet strip, or extension cord by plugging in a known-working lamp and seeing if it lights up.

Make Sure the Battery is Charged

If you have a notebook or tablet PC that won’t turn on, it could be because the battery is completely dead. Make sure you have the correct charger for your device and plug it in. Wait at least 10-30 minutes before attempting to turn on the device: Most portable PCs won’t power up unless the battery has a certain amount of charge already stored up—even if the device is plugged into the charger.

Plug in your charger and charge your device.
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If your device still won’t charge or power on, the charging adapter or cable might be bad. Try charging your device with a new or known-good charger.

RELATED: Should I Leave My Laptop Plugged In All The Time?

See If the Power Supply Has a Switch

Some desktop PCs in modular cases have a separate switch on the power supply that you must switch on first before a power switch on the front of the device will work.

Flip the power switch in the back of your power supply.
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Look behind your PC where your power cable inserts into your PC. Look for a switch (usually a toggle switch) and flip it into the on position. Then try to turn your PC on using the main power push button again.

RELATED: How Can I Test My Computer's Power Supply?

If All Else Fails, Contact Customer Support

If you’ve tried all of the above and your Windows PC still won’t turn on, your PC (or some component of it) might be defective. In that case, it’s best to contact the PC vendor’s customer support staff to see if you can have your PC repaired or exchanged for a working model. Good luck!

RELATED: How to Contact Customer Support and Actually Get a Human

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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