Some users do not use the Shut down button from the Start Menu to power off their Windows computers. Instead, they prefer to use the hardware power button found on their PCs and devices. If you are such a user, you might want to change the default behavior of the Shut down button from the Start Menu into something else, which you are likely to use more frequently: Log off, Lock, Restart, Sleep or Switch User. Or you might prefer to configure the hardware power button that’s found on your Windows computer or device, to put it to sleep instead of shutting it down as it happens by default. This tutorial will show you how to do these things in Windows 7, as well as in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10:
How to change what Windows does when you press the hardware power button on your device
In all modern versions of Windows, you can choose what your PC does when you push the power button. We mean the power button found on your computer case, on your laptop, on your tablet or 2-in-1 device.
NOTE: If you want to change what Windows does when you press the software Power button found in the Start Menu (in Windows 10 and Windows 7) or on the Start screen (in Windows 8.1), skip this first section and read the next sections from this guide.
Regardless whether you use Windows 10, Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, start by opening the Control Panel. If you don’t know how to do that, here are tutorials to guide you if you’re using Windows 10 or Windows 8.1: 8 ways to start the Control Panel in Windows 10 and Introducing Windows 8.1: 9 Ways to Access the Control Panel. If you’re using Windows 7, all you have to do is open the Start Menu and click on Control Panel.
Once the Control Panel is opened, click or tap on “System and Security.”
In “System and Security,” right under “Power Options,” you’ll see a link called “Change what the power buttons do.” Click or tap on it.
If you prefer, you can also first click or tap to open the “Power Options,” and then click/tap on “Change what the power button does” on the left side of the window.
Either way, you get to a page that lets you “Define power buttons and turn on password protection.” Look for the section called “Power button settings.” There’s only one setting in it, called “When I press the power button.” On its right, there’s a drop-down list with all the options available on your computer.
Choose what you’d like your Windows computer or device to do when you press the power button. By default, it should be set to “Shut down,” but depending on your type of device, you should be able to choose from other options like Sleep, Restart, Hibernate, or “Turn off the display.”
Once you have selected what you want to happen when you press the power button, click or tap on the “Save changes” button at the bottom-right side of the window.
Note that if you have a Windows device with a battery, such as a laptop or a tablet, you will be able to choose two different actions for when you press the power button: one thing for when the device is running on battery and another for when it’s connected to a power main.
Also, if your Windows device has a dedicated Sleep button, you might see an additional drop-down list dedicated to it, as you can see in the screenshot above.
Let’s see now what can be changed for the software Power button from your Start Menu in Windows 7 and Windows 10, or from your Start screen if you are on Windows 8.1.
How to change what the “Shut down” button from the Start Menu in Windows 7 does
In Windows 7, the Shut down button is located on the bottom-right side of the Start Menu.
If you click on the arrow near Shut down, you can find other related options, all of which can be set as the default.
To change the default behavior, right-click on the taskbar and, from the right-click menu, select Properties.
The “Taskbar and Start Menu Properties” window opens. Click on the Start Menu tab.
Click on the “Power button action” drop-down list and select the action you want to set as default.
Click on the OK button and the change is now applied.
What about changing what the software “Shut down” button does in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10?
Unlike in Windows 7, you cannot change what the Shut down button from the Start screen in Windows 8.1 and the Shut down button from the Start Menu in Windows 10 do. Both in Windows 8.1 and in Windows 10, the Shut down button is not a Shut down button but only a Power button that opens a menu with options. People mistake the Power button from Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 with the Shut down button from Windows 7. The sole purpose of the Power button in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 is to open the list of power options available on your computer or device. Here’s what you’ll see in Windows 8.1:
In Windows 10, the options available are the same:
Only after you open the Power menu can you choose what you want to do: Sleep, Restart, Shut down, or Hibernate (if you enable this option).
You can set your computer’s Power button to do what you like as long as it is a power option that is available in Windows, for your specific hardware. If you use Windows 7, you can also choose a default action for clicking the Power button from the Start Menu, to save a click or two when you shut down or put your computer to sleep. For other tips related to power options available in Windows, check out the articles recommended below.