Most users know how to turn off their Windows PCs using the conventional software buttons found under the Start menu. But in Windows 11, those conventional shutdown methods, when operating under the constraints of the Fast Startup Option, may not work the way you think they do.
SEE: Quick glossary: Industrial Internet of Things (TechRepublic Premium)
To truly shutdown a Windows 11 or Windows 10 PC, completely blanking system RAM requires some specific knowledge and perhaps an old but still useful custom shortcut. Creating these shortcuts is relatively simple if you know the commands and the correct syntax. You may also find them more convenient than conventional shutdown methods.
How to create shutdown shortcuts in Windows 11
In Windows 7 and beyond, Microsoft installed a better user experience feature into the operating system called the Fast Startup Option. Current hibernation capable Windows 11 systems come with Fast Startup enabled by default (Figure A). As you might guess, the feature allows your PC to start up faster after a conventional shutdown.
The faster start up sequence is made possible by the fact that Windows 11 creates a file on your hard disk that contains operating system memory status at the time of shutdown. This file is used to jumpstart your PC when you power up the next time. This reduces boot time, but it also may not be what you want every time you shutdown.
To completely shutdown your Windows 11 PC and restart it later with blank RAM, no running applications and fresh network connections, you must bypass the Fast Boot Option by using the full shutdown command. One of the best ways to accomplish this task is with a simple desktop shortcut.
Select a blank spot on your Windows 11 desktop and right click. From the context menu select New | Shortcut (Figure B).
The next screen in the process asks you to supply a shortcut location (Figure C).
For our example, we will use this basic shutdown command:
shutdown.exe -s -t 00
The shutdown.exe application is located in the Windows 11 system files, so it does not need a path specification. The -s parameter specifies a system shutdown and the -t 00 parameter indicates to do it immediately.
Click Next to continue to the naming screen (Figure D). Give your new shortcut an appropriate name and click the Finish button.
The default icon for your new shortcut may be slightly misleading, so you can give it a different, more appropriate icon, if you wish.
Right click the new shortcut and select Properties from the context menu. Click the Change Icon button and then select a new icon from the list (Figure E). Click Okay twice to complete the process.
You now have a new shortcut on your Windows 11 desktop that will completely shutdown your PC when you double-click it.
A word of warning: We made absolutely no provisions in the parameters for open applications, so be sure to save your work and close open applications before activating this shortcut. If you want to create a shortcut that will restart your Windows 11 PC instead of shutting it down, use the same procedure but change the command to use the -r parameter, like so:
shutdown.exe -r -t 00