Are you guilty of closing your laptop and walking away for the rest of the day?
It’s a bad habit, but it’s no longer as devastating as it used to be. Operating systems are more stable than ever, and hardware features low-power standby modes that don’t harm your batter.
Shutting down your computer after a long session is an equivalent to having a hot shower after work. It refreshes the system and removes build-up so that your computer runs (almost) like-new next time you turn it on.
Regular power-downs are so important that engineers wrote in ways to program your computer to shut down automatically.
Do you know how to set your computer for auto shutdown? We’ll show you how to program your computer to stop your bad habits in their tracks.
Set Your Computer for Auto Shutdown: Directions According to OS
We hunted down the instructions for shutting down a computer from Windows 7 forward and for Mac OS. We do not provide instructions for Windows XP or Windows Vista because Microsoft stopped supported these operating systems in 2014 and 2017, respectively.
Windows 7 and Windows 8
If you run Windows 7 or Windows 8, all you need to do is schedule a shutdown. To do so, type “task scheduler” into the search bar to find the app. Alternatively, Windows 7 users can follow this progression: Start; Control Panel; System and Security; Administrative Tools; Task Scheduler.
Run Windows 8? Hit the Windows key on your keyboard and search for “schedule tasks.”
Once your Task Scheduler is open, visit the Actions menu and click the Create Basic Task command. From here, you need to name and describe the task. We recommend an easy name like “Automatic Shutdown” or “Shutdown Timer.”
Next, the program asks when you want the task to happen. Choose from the following options:
- One Time
If you choose daily, you receive a prompt to enter the time you want it to shut down. It will also ask you to fill in a recurring schedule. It should already be set to “1”, so leave it here for a daily shut down.
The third step in the menu is “Action.” It asks what action you want the task to perform. “Start a program” is the correct answer. Your computer should highlight it automatically.
Finally, the task manager asks you to enter the location of the program. Here’s where the “Start a program” selection makes sense. When a Windows computer switches off, it runs an automatic program with the name: C:\Windows/System32/shutdown.exe.
You enter that name into the “Program/script” box.
Task Scheduler asks you to review your new command before saving. Click “Finish” to save it and enjoy a daily shutdown.
Try an Old School Method
The method outlined above is the simple, Microsoft-approved way of scheduling a daily or weekly shutdown. Old school methods still abound. To perform a more creative option, start by visiting an app you haven’t met in a while: Notepad. Find it under Start; All Programs; Accessories; Notepad or type notepad into your start menu search bar.
Open a new note and enter the following code:
if %time%==00:00:00.00 goto :X
Shutdown.exe /s /f/t/60 /c “Prepare to shutdown“
In the code, find the shutdown time under “if %time%==” Here, we set it to midnight (00:00). Set your preferred time in HH:MM:SS.MS format. You must schedule it using military time or 24-hour format. If you don’t, your computer will fail to read it properly.
You can also enter words in the quotes in the last line of the code like “Prepare to shutdown.” These words appear in a dialog box that pops up before the shutdown.
The code here instructs your computer to monitor the type and automatically go into shutdown mode when the clock reaches midnight.
From here, save the file by clicking File> Save As. In the space for file name, type “timer.bat.” In file type, select All Files from the drop-down menu.
Check the file by double-clicking it. If it works, you’ll get a blank command prompt. Leave the file open, and it will notify you ten minutes before it’s about to shut down, giving you plenty of time to save your work.
Want to skip the shutdown? Open the Run dialog by pressing the Windows button and R on your keyboard. In the prompt, enter “shutdown -a” (sans quotes) and click Okay to cancel your command.
To make things simple, use the same Task Scheduler process outlined for Windows 7 and 8 to create an automatic shutdown process for your Windows 10 computer.
Alternatively, you can use a shorter option to schedule a single shutdown.
To schedule the option on Windows 10, press the Windows key and R on your keyboard to open the Run dialog. Once open type the following system command into the Run dialog prompt: shutdown -s -t 600.
You can also do this using the Command Prompt or PowerShell options. Find either of these using the Search bar in your Windows menu. Enter the same prompt there too: shutdown -s -t 600.
The number 600 represents time in seconds. If you enter 600 into the prompt, your computer automatically shuts down after 10 minutes passes. You can also enter your preferred value in seconds.
Schedule Shutdown on a Mac
Apple’s operating systems allow you to schedule the following commands:
Apple refers to these as Energy Saver preferences, and setting one up is easy.
Head to your Apple menu and select System Preferences. From here, choose Energy Save and then the Schedule function. Follow the instructions in the pop-up menus to enter when you want the system to shut down automatically.
Shutting down is trickier on Mac than on Windows because Apple built in a failsafe to protect yourwork. An automatic shutdown requires your Mac to be awake at the time of the scheduled shutdown, and it must be programmed to remain awake 10 minutes after.
If your computer is in Sleep mode at the time your shutdown occurs, it won’t shut down. It remains in Sleep.
If your sleep settings schedule it to sleep after less than 15 minutes of inactivity, your computer may be asleep when the shutdown prompt occurs. To make sure your computer shuts down automatically, you need to do one of the following two things.
First, set it to start up five minutes before your scheduled shutdown. Or, set it to wake five minutes before the shutdown.
Otherwise, it remains in the same sleep mode.
Should I Shut Down My Computer on a Regular Basis?
Yes, you should shut down your computer regularly. No, do you not have to do so.
Let us explain.
Both the software and hardware on today’s computers are stable and functional enough to protect your laptop even during long periods of inactivity. Not shutting your computer down won’t risk the operating integrity of your computer, or at least, you don’t face the risk of catastrophic events.
However, your operating system gets bogged down during use. The software and your programs pick up all kinds of junk from page files to zombie processes to temporary files as you use it. Whether and to what extent the excess files slow down your computer depends on your hardware and your OS. Some will see noticeable impacts on computer performance. Other operating systems shrug it off.
If you run a budget computer with the minimum amount of RAM necessary for functioning, you will likely see the phenomenon impact your PC more acutely than someone with a supercomputer.That’s why servers run longer and better than your standard desktop computer.
You’ll also notice if your operating system features capabilities designed for long-term use.
Experience suggests that Linux and Mac fare better over long periods of time, but Windows is more likely to get clogged. Even so, performance also depends on the programs you run rather than the core integrity of the operating system itself.
Is Auto Shutdown Better Than Hibernate?
Shut down and hibernate are two different functions. In shut down mode, your machine powers off completely, using almost zero energy. In hibernate, everything saves to the hard drive to come back when you’re ready to start again. Hibernate keeps everything in state.
Hibernate is ideal when you want to save power and come back to your normal state quickly. Shut down is the option that wipes everything clean and allows you to come back fresh.
Every Computer Needs a Shut Down Occasionally
Our operating systems are now robust enough that they won’t fail if they don’t get some rest, but a shutdown every once in a while does a world of good, particularly for Windows users.
If you forget to shut down your computer, use one of the commands listed above to set your computer for auto shutdown. Your hard drive and your patience will thank you.