How to Create a Custom Shutdown Command for Windows Vista

By Woody Leonhard

Windows Vista has four basic shutdown commands — Sleep, Shutdown, Hibernate, and Restart — but it’s capable of more variety. You can create a custom shutdown for your Windows Vista computer so that it does things your way.

The easiest way to work with shutdown commands is to create a shortcut. You can activate the shutdown command by clicking the shortcut, assigning a hot key to it, or letting the Vista Task Scheduler perform your custom shutdown automatically at a specific time.

Vista uses one basic command to turn off the computer: shutdown. To create a custom shutdown shortcut, right-click an empty space on your desktop and choose New→Shortcut. Instead of entering a location, enter the shutdown command in the dialog that follows. You can add a number of other switches to that command to change the way Vista shuts down the computer.

Switches for the Shutdown Command
Shutdown Switch What It Does
/h Puts the computer in hibernate mode.
/l Logs off the current user (allows very little time to save your
/r Restarts the computer (allows very little time to save your
/g Restarts the computer and then restarts any registered
applications that were running when the system was shut down.
/t nn Counts down a timer nn seconds before
running the specific restart command. After nn seconds, the computer shuts down (without
any additional time to save) and then restarts.
/c "text" Displays whatever text you type between the quotation marks in
a message box while the shutdown timer (/t nn) is in
/p Turns off the computer with very little warning.

For example, you can create a shortcut like the following.

  • shutdown /l, which logs you off and gives you only a few seconds to save.

  • shutdown /p, which turns off the computer.

Or you can get creative and string several switches together to make you shutdown really unique. For example, the command shutdown /r /t 90 /c "Your computer will restart in 90 seconds", which displays a message saying as much for about 90 seconds before restarting the computer.