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Schedule a shutdown in Windows (sleep timer)

Introduction

I enjoy listening to audio books and sometimes I want to listen a little bit before going to sleep. Audible has a sleep timer built-in to the app, but I wanted my entire computer to shut down.

You can use the built-in shutdown command in Windows to schedule a shutdown. These examples will show how to schedule a shutdown and how to cancel a scheduled shutdown from the command-line.

Schedule a shutdown

Use the built-in shutdown command. Three easy ways to run a command are:

  • in the command-prompt
  • in the Run window (WindowsKey+R)

Run the shutdown command with the /s or -s flags to tell it to shutdown.

Also pass the time flag /t or -t along with the number of seconds until the shutdown. Here is an example that will shutdown in 1 minute and another in 20 minutes.

shutdown /s /t 60
shutdown -s -t 1200

Cancel a scheduled shutdown

You cannot change the scheduled shutdown time once it has been set and you may run in to an error like:

A system shutdown has already been scheduled.(1190)

To change the shutdown time you must cancel the

You must abort it first before you can schedule a new time. Use the /a flag like this to abort a scheduled shutdown:

shutdown /a

Get other shutdown options

To get a full list of options with the shutdown command, simply run it with no arguments like this:

shutdown

The output will be long so you will need to scroll up usually to see the top. Here is an example output with the help options from Windows 10.

Usage: shutdown [/i | /l | /s | /sg | /r | /g | /a | /p | /h | /e | /o] [/hybrid] [/soft] [/fw] [/f]
    [/m \\computer][/t xxx][/d [p|u:]xx:yy [/c "comment"]]

    No args    Display help. This is the same as typing /?.
    /?         Display help. This is the same as not typing any options.
    /i         Display the graphical user interface (GUI).
               This must be the first option.
    /l         Log off. This cannot be used with /m or /d options.
    /s         Shutdown the computer.
    /sg        Shutdown the computer. On the next boot, if Automatic Restart Sign-On
               is enabled, automatically sign in and lock last interactive user.
               After sign in, restart any registered applications.
    /r         Full shutdown and restart the computer.
    /g         Full shutdown and restart the computer. After the system is rebooted,
               if Automatic Restart Sign-On is enabled, automatically sign in and
               lock last interactive user.
               After sign in, restart any registered applications.
    /a         Abort a system shutdown.
               This can only be used during the time-out period.
               Combine with /fw to clear any pending boots to firmware.
    /p         Turn off the local computer with no time-out or warning.
               Can be used with /d and /f options.
    /h         Hibernate the local computer.
               Can be used with the /f option.
    /hybrid    Performs a shutdown of the computer and prepares it for fast startup.
               Must be used with /s option.
    /fw        Combine with a shutdown option to cause the next boot to go to the
               firmware user interface.
    /e         Document the reason for an unexpected shutdown of a computer.
    /o         Go to the advanced boot options menu and restart the computer.
               Must be used with /r option.
    /m \\computer Specify the target computer.
    /t xxx     Set the time-out period before shutdown to xxx seconds.
               The valid range is 0-315360000 (10 years), with a default of 30.
               If the timeout period is greater than 0, the /f parameter is
               implied.
    /c "comment" Comment on the reason for the restart or shutdown.
               Maximum of 512 characters allowed.
    /f         Force running applications to close without forewarning users.
               The /f parameter is implied when a value greater than 0 is
               specified for the /t parameter.
    /d [p|u:]xx:yy  Provide the reason for the restart or shutdown.
               p indicates that the restart or shutdown is planned.
               u indicates that the reason is user defined.
               If neither p nor u is specified the restart or shutdown is
               unplanned.
               xx is the major reason number (positive integer less than 256).
               yy is the minor reason number (positive integer less than 65536).

Conclusion

After reading this you should understand how to schedule a shutdown on a Windows computer and abort scheduled shutdowns. You should also know how to get more options for the shutdown command.

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