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Add a Shutdown menu to the Windows 8 desktop

Greg Shultz has found a technique that will allow you to recreate a reasonable facsimile of the Shutdown pop-up menu on Windows 8's desktop.

In the last couple of blog posts in the Windows and Office Blog, I've shown you how to boot Windows 8 straight to the desktop and add a Start button to the taskbar. These two techniques basically allow you to emulate a Windows 7 style interface in Windows 8 without having to use any third-party utilities. As you know, the Start menu in Windows not only provided you with a way to launch your application but also a way to shut down your computer. For example, in Windows 7 there is a Shut down as well as a pop-up menu that displays six other related options: Switch user, Log off, Lock, Restart, Sleep, and Hibernate.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

In Windows 8, these options are spread out between the Power Charm and the context menu associated with your user picture on the Start screen, as shown in Figure A. Unfortunately, this new arrangement isn't convenient for everyone. I've heard numerous complaints about this as well as requests for the ability to shut down or restart the system to be put back on the desktop.

Figure A

This composite image shows the power options on the Power Charm and the context menu associated with your user picture.

I began investigating this possibility and have found a technique that will allow you to recreate a reasonable facsimile of the Shut down pop-up menu on Windows 8's desktop. The technique involves creating a series of shortcuts using special commands, saving them to a folder, and then specifying that folder as a taskbar toolbar. Let take a closer look.

The special commands

As you may know, Windows comes with a command line utility called Shutdown.exe that, along with special parameters, can be used to create the majority of the options for our Shut down menu. To create the other options we'll use two other command line utilities: Rundll32.exe and Tsdiscon.exe. These commands and their parameters are shown in Table A.

Table A

Menu option

Command

Shut down shutdown.exe /s /t 00
Restart shutdown.exe /r /t 00
Log off shutdown.exe /l
Sleep or Hibernate rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState
Lock rundll32.exe user32.dll,LockWorkStation
Switch user tsdiscon.exe

Sleep vs. Hibernate

The differences between activating Sleep and Hibernate from the command line in Windows 8 can be tricky, so be aware.

As you can see the same command line is used to initiate Sleep and Hibernate. If you have the Hibernate feature enabled, then this command line will put the system into Hibernation mode. If you have the Hibernate feature disabled, then this command line will put the system into Sleep mode.

Keep in mind that if the Hibernate feature is disabled, then the only power saving option you will have available is Sleep mode. If the Hibernate feature is enabled, then both power saving options, Hibernate and Sleep, will be available - just not both from the command line.

If you leave the Hibernate feature enabled, then you can use a shortcut to activate the Hibernation mode and can then activate Sleep mode from the Power Charm or by configuring the power button on the computer to activate Sleep mode. As such, I chose to leave the Hibernate feature enabled.

Now, if you want to disable or enable the Hibernate feature, you will press [Windows]+X to bring up the Tools menu and then select Command Prompt (Admin). Then, you will use one of the following commands:

powercfg -hibernate off
powercfg  -hibernate on

Creating the shortcuts

In order to use the taskbar toolbar, you'll need to create all your shortcuts in a single folder. To make it simple, I created a folder called Shut down and then used Create Shortcut wizard to create my shortcuts in that folder. To do so, just right click on the background and choose the New | Shortcut command. When you see the first screen in the Create Shortcut wizard, type the first command from Table A in the text box, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Type the first command from Table A in the text box.
In this command, the /s is the shut down parameter and the /t 00 is the timer parameter which instructs the shut down command to shut down the system in 00 seconds or immediately. Once you type the command, you can click Next. When you see the second screen in the Create Shortcut wizard, type Shut down as shown in Figure C. To complete the wizard, just click Finish.

Figure C

Name this shortcut Shut down.
Once you create the Shutdown shortcut, you'll create the Restart shortcut, as shown in Figure D. In this command, the /r is the restart parameter and the /t 00 is the timer parameter which instructs the shut down command to restart the system immediately.

Figure D

The /r parameter instructs the shutdown command to restart the computer.
You can then create the Log off shortcut as shown in Figure E. In this command, the /l is the log off parameter.

Figure E

The /l parameter instructs the shutdown command to Log off the computer.
You'll then create the Hibernate shortcut as shown in Figure F. In this command line, rundll32.exe activates the Power Profile (powerprof.dll) and then launches the default power saving mode (SetSuspendState). Keep in mind that case is important in this last command - you must use both upper and lower case letters.

Figure F

You must use both upper and lower case letters in last part of the Hibernate command.
You can now create the Lock shortcut as shown in Figure G. In this command line, rundll32.exe accesses the currently logged on user's session (user32.dll) and locks the session (LockWorkStation). Again, case is important in the last command.

Figure G

The last part of the Lock command must use both upper and lower case letters.
The Switch user shortcut is quite simple, as you can see in Figure H. There is only the tsdiscon.exe command - no parameters.

Figure H

The Switch user shortcut has a simple command.
Once you have created your shortcuts, you can assign each one a unique icon if you wish. To do so, right click on the shortcut icon and select the Properties command. When you see the Properties dialog box, click the Change Icon button to open the Change Icon dialog box. Then, click the Browse button. You can find a host of icons in the Shell32.dll file, as shown in Figure I.

Figure I

The Shell32.dll file contains a host of icons.

Creating the toolbar

Now that you have your shortcuts created in the Shut down folder, you can create the toolbar. Right-click on the taskbar and then select the Toolbars | New toolbar command, as shown in Figure J.

Figure J

Select the New toolbar command.
When you do, you'll see the New Toolbar - Choose a folder dialog box and will need to locate and select the Shutdown folder, as shown in Figure K.

Figure K

In the New Toolbar - Choose a folder dialog box, just select the Shutdown folder.
Your new Shut down menu will now appear on the right edge of the taskbar, as shown in Figure L. You can leave it there or you can move it to the far left if you want. For me it works best on the right side of the taskbar. Regardless of where you place it, you can now quickly and easily Shut down, Restart, Lock, Log off, Hibernate, or Switch user right from the Windows 8 desktop.

Figure L

The Shut down menu may work best on the right side of the taskbar.

If you combine this technique with custom Start button technique and the boot straight to the desktop trick, you'll basically have a Windows 7 style interface in Windows 8 without having to use any third-party utilities.

What's your take?

What do you think about creating a Shut down menu on Windows 8's desktop? Will you try it? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

Also read:

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

33 comments
tjhansler
tjhansler

Excellent and very useful utility.

Panwo1
Panwo1

Nice Article, I followed the instructions and find this to be very useful

vasquito
vasquito

Nice one - thanks for sharing :-)

life256
life256

Rather time consuming to setup and such, but a solid work around. I am thoroughly enjoying windows 8 and it has been a learning curve, but I typically just hit alt+F4 at the desktop and the classic shutdown window appears. That's always the way I have shutdown since XP. Much more efficient for me personally.

Micktss
Micktss

You can still change the function of the powerbutton on your laptop/pc through control panel. Simply change it to shutdown, now single press of powerbutton and proper shutdown!

BillGates_z
BillGates_z

Total bogosity! Writing menus for DOS was a bit fun, this stuff is ridiculous!

CR2011
CR2011

I like "point and click" as much as the next person. However, Ctrl+Alt+Del will get you to all those options except Hibernate. It also gives you access to Sleep and Task Manager.

bd1235
bd1235

Just opened a command window on w8 and asked for shutdown help. I see that the /h switch will do a hibernate and it is very certain about it. I see the /i switch will invoke a GUI for shutdown. I haven't tried it as it will blow me off from posting here.

Fistandantilius
Fistandantilius

I know all these missing features that are standard, especially in Windows 7, and more so since Windows XP, are annoying to almost all users that use Windows 8 (and obviously those that just complain about it, yet haven't used it) - but I find myself back in time, sort of. I'm from the old DOS days and the explosion of Windows 3.1 that became mainstream, and I seem to remember A LOT of configuration to do back then (fun e.g. : tweaking the config.sys and autoexec.bat). But, that was expected! Whereas today, with the lazyness that most users find themselves entitled to, they scream, yell and stomp their foot in protest "give me back my simple features! I'm lost without them! Why did you take them away?!". And for most reasons, they're right - user experience should be simple and have minimal impact. But, come on, it's not the end of the world, and to us programmers and real IT pros, it's definitely a huge opportunity in some many ways; most notably in the professional sphere : why would I want an application and/or an OS that does everything for me like a robot? I'd be rendered useless and discarded, whereas on the other side, because of the amount of years in IT, I'm not lulled into a mundane routine of single-clicks-the-job-is-done-without-knowing-what-really-happened-in-the-background. Whatever happened to the adventure (albeit nerdy adventures to non-geeks) in computers? The need for discovering features, making it and shaping it to work the way YOU want it, not how someone else decided it should be for the rest of us (and like it or not, the Windows marketplace is still strong and won't be going away any time soon). I find myself liking Windows 8 because it brings me back to those golden days of being a power user with the ability to shape my day-to-day experience the way *I* want it, instead of today's dumber/average user that complains when even a simple menu option is removed, yet requires a mere swipe/mouse click to render the same effect. With Windows 8, I can develop myriad applications that will bring back those old functionalities and that can be rewarding (both personally and financially when it can be sold within the Windows Store). I'm not trying to bash anyone, but all in all, you don't need to be an Einstein genius to create shortcuts and change a bit of OS habits, but it can go a long way.

cnromaine
cnromaine

Just an 'Alt-F4' will bring up a shutdown dialog box from the Desktop.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Any way to make it differentiate between the two and have a menu option for both?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I have received several emails asking for a way to shutdown Windows 8 from the Desktop. Will you take a few minutes to make yourself a shortcut?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...correct. Pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del will bring up a screen containing all the options, immediate access to Lock,Switch user, and Sign out. clicking the Power charm will get you a menu with Sleep, Shut down, and Restart. As always, there are multiple ways to do things in Windows--always have been and always will be. Again remember, this series of articles are designed to show those users who are resistant to change, how to use alternative methods in Windows 8 that are similar to Windows 7. The best way to use Windows 8, is to adapt and learn how to use the new features in the new user interface.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

... does indeed have a hibernate parameter (/h) that can be used, but again if hibernation is disabled, then this using the 'shutdown /h' command line will yield an error. As I mentioned in the article, "The differences between activating Sleep and Hibernate from the command line in Windows 8 can be tricky." Essentially you can't do both Sleep and Hibernate from the command line at the same time. I chose to use the 'rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState' command line because it will work in one way or the other regardless of whether hibernate is enabled. Please re-read the Sleep vs. Hibernate section of the article again. When you use the 'shutdown /i' command to bring up the GUI, you only get the Shutdown and Restart options, but if that is all you want to be able to do, then creating a shortcut to that command is indeed a viable option.

m.i.k.e
m.i.k.e

That may be fun to do the first time around, but what about the 3000th time because you're in IT supporting a hundred or so machines and every time you reload them you have to spend the first 30 minutes re-configuring everything back to how you want it? Like after 4 years with Server 2008, every first login still presents the Server Manager (check box for "do not show this at start-up") and IE pops up the "Do you want to set up your preferences" and Explorer defaults to not showing you the folder tree, file extensions, hidden folders, or anything else an admin needs, and the Start menu's first option is "Shutdown" instead of "Log out." MS annoys us with multiple versions of Windows - why not give the Enterprise and Server versions a corporate-level Logout menu and sysadmin-friendly defaults?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

but those non-geeks who use computers at work usually aren't interested in adventures, and their employers aren't interested in paying them to do so. To those users, computers are simply tools; tools they and their employers thought those users had mastered well enough to accomplish their jobs. The tasks they'll need to perform on a computer will not have changed just because MS has a new product.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Yes, I know they've been there for multiple versions. It seems like the solution to anything people dislike about the W8 interfaces is a keyboard shortcut. If that's the case, why even include mouse drivers? Most people aren't geeks or touch typists. They're used to controlling their systems with mice, often using the keyboard only when they have to enter characters. Now we're supposed to bombard them with more keystrokes than they'll effectively learn. Hell, I'm not going to remember most of them myself.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...typically installed with a Shut down operation not a Restart. In Windows 8, when updates are ready to be installed there will be a message to that effect on the login screen. If you then login and select the Shut down button on the custom Shut down menu, the updates will be installed normally

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The shutdown procedure in W8 is beginning to annoy me. I've documented that it takes more mouse / keystrokes than in W7. The W8 shutdown process is probably well-suited for portable devices with 'instant on' capability and other devices that are rarely turned completely off, but it doesn't fit this energy-saver's desktop use. Keep at it; eventually there will be enough work-arounds so that W8 can be made to look like W7.

Fistandantilius
Fistandantilius

Microsoft, and even others, have completely disregarded the power user and dumbed-down their softwares so that the average user can use them (in the wrong ways).

Fistandantilius
Fistandantilius

But like all tools, especially when it's a computer system, it always requires constant updates and knowledge. I do agree with you, don't get me wrong, but only to a certain extent. (I still don't understand, nor agree, why most basic functionalities have been removed.) But, there are those that can (and/or want) to kee up, even on a small level, or there are those that simply choose not to for probable wrong reasons (e.g. : "they should have left it the way it was!") For example, car companies don't make the same cars they did 30 years ago, but mechanics aren't yelling at the top of their lungs that they replaced the "insert key here" slot with a "Push to Start" button. People, even employees, and employers, adapt and learn; the simple definition of basic evolution. The same goes for any business : they adapt or fall to the competition. If they have employees that can't learn to change a few mouse-clicking/finger-tapping routines to something else, I would surmise that business has inherited a failing resource and would probably initiate procedures to help that employee or give them a choice. Unless you can name me a company that retains liabilities and still remains in business. In terms of technology that we use everyday, and not just the company, even those non-geeks have evolved to use it in more advanced ways with each and every passing year. (Remember the days when programming the VCR was a challenge? Most of the time, it would require the help of a child, of all things! But I deviate from the topic...) All of this happened before with DOS to Windows 3.1, to then Windows 95, to then Windows XP, to then Windows 7, and now with Windows 8... I don't like it anymore than you do, but I am finding opportunities within if at least because I'm well aware that whether we like it or not, we'll be stuck with it (another slight example of this is Vista vs Windows 7... the UI and user experience are almost idential; the just solidified Windows 7's code).

YepThatsMe
YepThatsMe

Since the days of Windows 1.0, Alt-F4 is the universal "Exit" keystroke command. It works (still!!!) for virtually any Windows program, including the Metro-style Apps in Win8. Definitely one of the 2 or 3 keystrokes worth knowing. F1 for "Help" and Ctrl-Z for "Undo" are a couple of others that are almost universal. No need to hunt for the right area of the Ribbon to get these jobs done!

electrojolt
electrojolt

Talk about tunnel vision... wow... the simplest and fastest way to shutdown windows 8 is to press the computer's power button.

Fistandantilius
Fistandantilius

with everything you said. It is awfully silly to drag your mouse at a precise small area in the corner to switch apps. It makes no sense why a company would even think of attempting to merge three platforms into one and, on top of that, to categorically change what was a basic routine to something alien. Windows 8 should have been completely separate from tablets and phones. But, they follow stock prices, and that's indicating that people are using these silly gadgets (I'm not a big fan of tablets and smartphones to be used the way computers are) by a ridiculous amount. (Personally, I'd rather stick to my machine that's powerful enough to run NASA mission launches by comparison to a tablet/smartphone). My only take on this is, as a programmer (and a geek), that it offers opportunities for people like me to create (and sell!) programs to bring back that ease of use. If creating a way to automatically include a Start button and/or a Shutdown button and it sells even for a dollar, it's a gold mine. It allows other companies to step in and develop programs that will break the average user away from traditional closed software (namely MS products) and maybe even hopefully change some pricing in software at the same time. At least, that's what I'm personally hoping! lol

m.i.k.e
m.i.k.e

The major annoyance here is that MS designed a Tablet/Touchscreen UI, and stuck it on a desktop OS that lacks a touchpad. Tablets aren't frequently powered off and never logged off, so MS split the Logout/Shutdown menu into two and hid them in separate places. That was aggravatingly unnecessary and annoying for the desktop version of the OS UI. Metro apps are full-screen, and you switch between them by swiping your finger left to right on the screen. What if you don't have a touchscreen? Alt-tab doesn't include Metro apps. Oh, stick your mouse in the upper-left corner. That makes sense. Since Windows 95, the Explorer shell has been reasonably consistent and familiar. With 8, MS switches everyone to a tablet-oriented interface. But how many users will have MS phones and tablets to build familiarity? How many workarounds will users need to learn to deal with using a touch-based UI without a touch interface? Why didn't they include Mouse Gestures of some sort?

electrojolt
electrojolt

Another reason why windows is great, flexible to everyone's needs... I just hate when people bash it for no reason.

electrojolt
electrojolt

I would not want a one touch button/link to shutdown a remote server/pc... what if it is shutdown by mistake and there is no one there to power it back up.... I even remove the ability to shutdown all my remote server... I set them up so it must be done only from the DOS window and a reason must be specified.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It's everything I can do to convince my users to shut down on weekends. I don't want anything to make it even less convenient.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...for Shutdown is a viable option. It can also be configured (via Power Options) to put the computer to Sleep.

m.i.k.e
m.i.k.e

What if you're logged in via Remote Desktop? What if it's a virtual machine? Server 2012 seems to have the same annoyingly hid shutdown/logout menus, so this will come in handy for remotely administering those machines, too.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Too many years of shutting down the OS first, from back in the days when hitting the power button while Windows was still running was the path to a hard drive full of temporary files and corrupt registry.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

... so it does. That was the last screen shot that I took and I was so focused on putting together the composite image that I never noticed that is said "Update and restart." I apologize for any misunderstanding. In any case, I have not yet used the "Update and restart" button. I'll have to pay closer attention the next time Windows 8 is updated.