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How to manage power settings inside Windows 10 and Windows 11

Does your computer go to sleep too fast? Do you want to change what the power button does on your laptop? If so, here is how to manage the power settings inside Windows 10 and Windows 11.

How to manage power settings inside Windows 10 and Windows 11

Did you know that Windows has different default power schemes for laptop and desktop computers?
The different default power schemes for laptop and desktop computers
Only a few people do. If fact, if you own a laptop running Windows 10 or 11, pressing the power button, by default, does not turn it off but puts it to sleep,

But you can change all of that with a few simple mouse clicks. You can make it so that your display never turns off and your system never goes to sleep. And, of course, you can tweak the power settings for wifi adapters, USB devices, and batteries (laptops).

Now there are two (2) places in Windows 10 and Windows 11 you can change power settings: the Settings app and the Control Panel. The Power and sleep category inside the Settings app is basic but straightforward. But the Power Options in the Control Panel have more advanced features.

How to get to Power and sleep in the Settings app

Windows 11 only

  1. Left-clicking on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the list of pinned apps on the Start menu, left-click on Settings.
  3. In the right-hand column, left-click on Power.
  4. In the Power category, left-click on Screen and sleep.

Windows 10 only

  1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo menu and select Settings (the gear icon).
  2. Left-click on System.
  3. In the left column, left-click on Power and sleep.

Windows 10 or 11

  1. Right-click on the Start button Windows logo to bring up the Power User menu.
  2. In the list of programs that appear, left-click on Power options.
  3. Windows 11 only: Left-click on Screen and sleep.

When you get there, you will find only two (2) settings (two (2) sets on laptop computers (plugged in & battery)) that can be changed: When the screen turns off and when the computer goes to sleep.
The different options for laptop and desktop computers in the power and sleep category
Relatively simple and straight to the point. But if you want more options, including changing what happens when you press the power button or closing the lid of your laptop, you will need to use the Power Options inside the Control Panel.

How to get to the Power Options inside the Control Panel

Windows 11

  1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo key button to bring up the Start menu.
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the Start menu, left-click on All apps.
  3. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Tools.
  4. Double left-click on Control Panel.

Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo button to bring up the Start menu.
  2. Scroll down the list of programs until you get to Windows System, and then left-click on it to expand it.
  3. Left-click on Control Panel.

By default, the Control Panel opens up in the category view but can be changed to large or small icons. There is a pull-down menu in the top-right corner labeled View by: that allows you to change the view.

  • If viewing the Control Panel by Category, left-click on Hardware and Sound, then Power Options.
  • If viewing by Large/Small Icons, left-click Power Options.

Once you have the Power Options open, you will find several options in the left-hand column:
The power options inside of a laptop running Windows 10

  • Choose what the power button does
  • Choose what closing the lid does (laptops only)
  • Create a power plan
  • Choose when to turn off the display
  • Change when the computer sleeps

If you click on Choose what the power button does or Choose what closing the lid does (laptops only), you will bring up the System Settings. If you click on Create a power plan, you can create a power plan that suits your computing style. And if you click on either Choose when to turn off the display or Change when the computer sleeps, it allows you to edit the current power plan.

Now, if you really want to manage the power of your computer, create a power plan. Once you have made your custom power plan, you can edit the advanced options by selecting Change plan settings, then Change advanced power settings. This will bring up every possible power setting available for the components inside your computer, from hard disk and USB settings to display and multimedia.

The correct ways to shut down your Windows based computer

Updated September 13, 2020

Doing computer repair, I see a lot of different issues. But there is one problem I see over and over again, start-up corruption. This most commonly occurs when the computer is not turned off properly. And it appears that laptops are more prone to this issue than desktops are. So here's how to properly shutdown your Windows-based computer.

Which power button do you use to shut down your computer?

Logic dictates that if you use a button to turn on a device, you should also use it to turn it off (button on / button off). You use a button to turn on and off your TV, audio/video components, and smartphone. But this is not necessarily the case when it comes to your computer. It is always recommended that you allow the operating system to close down all applications and turn the computer off itself.

Using the Start menu / Start screen to shut down Windows

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be amazed at how many people don't use this method. It's mainly laptop users who instinctively reach for the power button. But if you don't watch how long you hold the power button down, you could perform a hard shut down. It's simpler and recommended to use the shut down button on the Start menu / Start screen.

Windows Vista

Shut down button location in Windows Vista
Start button > Power button > Shut down

Windows 7

Shut down button location in Windows 7
Start button > Shut down

Windows 8

Sign out button location in Windows 8
1. Start screen > Sign out
Shut down button location in Windows 8
2. Sign in screen > Power button > Shut down

Windows 8.1

Shut down button location in Windows 8.1
Start screen > Power button > Shut down

Or

Power users shut down button location in Windows 8.1
Power users menu (Windows logo key + X) > Shut down or sign out > Shut down

Windows 10

Shut down button location in Windows 10
Start button > Power button > Shut down

Or

Power users shut down button location in Windows 10
Power users menu (Windows logo key + X) > Shut down or sign out > Shut down

Using the power button on the computer to shut down Windows

This method is acceptable for turning off your computer, as it performs the same command as the shut down button on the Start menu / Start screen. But you have to check and make sure that the power options inside the operating system are configured to shut down the system when the power button is pressed.

Power button options inside of Windows 8.1
Power button options inside of Windows 8.1 / Windows 10

The power button can be configured to put the system into sleep or hibernate. And if your system loses power while it's asleep, you will get an error when you restart it. This happens quite often with laptops when they are not using the ac adapter the battery runs out.

Using the power button on the computer to force it to shut down

How do you turn off your computer when it freezes up and doesn't have a reset button? This is where the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) specification comes into play. This spec has been built into every computer for well over a decade now. It mandates that when the power button is held down for 10 seconds or more, the system performs a hard shut down, turning off power to all components. This will most likely cause an error upon restart.

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