How to make the power button shut down your Windows 8 system

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A few days ago I showed you how to create a Windows 8 shutdown tile, the idea being to circumvent the ridiculous hoops Microsoft makes you jump through just to turn off your computer.

Some would argue that doing so is an antiquated idea. After all, Windows 7 and 8 don't need regular reboots to continue running smoothly the way earlier versions did. On most modern systems you can leverage sleep/hibernate modes almost indefinitely, enjoying the benefits of quick wake/standby without ever actually shutting down.

Ah, but sleep mode continues to draw a bit of power, so it's not always the best option--especially for battery-conscious laptop users. And, let's face it, some users are just accustomed to turning off their PCs at the end of the day.

It's long been one of the great ironies of Windows that you're supposed to click through a shut-down process rather than just pressing the power button. After all, isn't that the off switch?

Turns out you can indeed use the power button to shut down your PC. It just requires a quick bit of configuration. Here's how to do it in Windows 8 (and Windows 7, once you reach the Control Panel):

1. Click the Desktop tile (or press Win-D) to enter Desktop mode.

2. Access the Charms bar by mousing into one of the right corners (or pressing Win-C), then click Settings.

3. Click Control Panel. (Interestingly, there are actually three other ways to access the Control Panel in Windows 8. Use whatever works best for you.)

4. In the search field, type power, then click Change what the power buttons do.

5. You should see two pull-down menus alongside When I press the power button. One is for when the laptop's running on battery power, the other for when it's plugged in. Choose the shut down setting for one or both.

6. Click Save changes and you're done.

As you may have noticed, this screen also lets you change the functions for the sleep button (if your laptop has one) and for what happens when you close the laptop's lid. Indeed, perhaps you'd prefer the latter action to shut down your PC, while keeping the power button for sleep or hibernate. The choice is yours.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community ForumsSign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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