395 How to force a computer to power off

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If your computer is frozen, there’s still a way for you to turn it off. This always works.

power button

 

People call me fairly often with this puzzling situation.

The computer is locked up. Frozen. Moving the mouse or touchpad does not move the cursor. None of the keys on the keyboard seem to have any effect. So if you can’t do anything by tapping a key or moving the cursor to click on something, what do you do?

Some people even go to the step of unplugging the computer from the wall. For a desktop computer, yes, that will power it off. But not necessarily for a laptop – because even if it’s unplugged from electricity, it can continue running on battery power.

But there’s a foolproof way to shut down a computer, whether it’s a desktop or laptop:

Press and hold the power button for 10 seconds. The computer will power off before 10 seconds goes by.

There are not too many things in the computer world that are universally true. But this process of forcing a computer to power off? In 23 years of working on computers, it has worked 100% of the time for me, or for the person I’m talking to on the phone.

Forcing it to power off may not fix an underlying hardware problem, but in many cases when you turn the computer back on, you will have regained control over the cursor and keyboard. It’s a good thing to remember!

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Susan Alexander
March 28th, 2022

Your photo shows the power button apparently on the keyboard, above the Esc and F1 keys. My desktop keyboard does not appear to have such a button. The only way I would know how to turn off the power to the computer would be by using the CPU tower. Is that OK, or is there a better way?

3/28/22

Scott Johnson
March 28th, 2022

It’s just a generic photo. Yes, you would use the power button on the tower.