One of the most often-requested Microsoft Windows tweaks is for shortcuts that shut down, power down, and restart a Windows session. The procedure for Windows 7 is very similar to that of Vista and XP, but now you can pin those freshly created shortcuts to the Start Menu or the Taskbar or both.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery and TechRepublic download. When I published this back in February 2010, there was some question about whether these shortcuts were needed anymore, but yet it is still a popular tip. Is this a case of old tricks die hard?

Creating a shortcut

Creating a shortcut should be familiar to almost everyone, but we will walk through the process just for clarity. There are other ways to accomplish this task, but this is my preferred method. First, right-click on a clear spot on the desktop and navigate to New | Shortcut, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Navigate the menu to create a new shortcut.

When you click the Shortcut menu item, you will arrive at the input screen shown in Figure B. This is where you will enter the specific command strings to make your new shortcut do what you want it to do.

Figure B

Enter the command for your new shortcut.

For our example, we will enter the specific command that will shut down a Windows PC. Type the following command into the box and then click Next.

Shutdown.exe -s -t 00

The next screen (Figure C) asks you to name the shortcut. I suggest you name the shortcut to correspond to the action it will perform. In this case, we name it Shutdown.

Figure C

Give it an appropriate name.

New icon

Technically, you could stop here, but I prefer to give these shortcuts an icon that will help me remember what it is that they do. In Windows 7, changing an icon is similar to how you changed icons in previous versions of the operating system.

Right-click on the icon in question to get the context menu shown in Figure D and then navigate to the Properties menu item.

Figure D

Find Properties on the menu.

From the Properties control panel, shown in Figure E, select the Change Icon button.

Figure E

Select Change Icon.

The next screen (Figure F) will show you a list of potential icons. Choose the one you want to use and click the OK button twice.

Figure F

Choose your icon and click OK.

You should now have a new shortcut on your desktop. When you click the shortcut, your PC will shut down, so make sure you save your work before you test it.

Windows 7 features

One of the nice features of Windows 7 is that you can pin your new shortcut to the Start Menu and/or to the Taskbar. I am a big Taskbar user myself so that is where I want to put it. Right-click the shortcut to get the context menu and click the Pin to Taskbar menu item (Figure G).

Figure G

Pin the shortcut.

Once the shortcut is pinned (Figure H), you will always have access to a quick shutdown.

Figure H

Shut down anytime.

Additional shortcuts

There are several shutdown and power down commands that you can make into shortcuts. Creating shortcuts for these commands works exactly the same as our example shutdown shortcut.

Restart Computer

Shutdown.exe -r -t 00

Lock Workstation

Rundll32.exe User32.dll,LockWorkStation

Hibernate Computer

rundll32.exe PowrProf.dll,SetSuspendState

Sleep Computer

rundll32.exe PowrProf.dll,SetSuspendState 0,1,0

Bottom line

These shortcut tweaks can be real time-savers, that is for sure. Do you take advantage of them? What other little tweaks are you especially fond of and willing to share?

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