When you right click the Windows 8.1 "start" button, you get some options to quickly perform common tasks, e.g. to shut down, reboot, or put the computer to sleep.

But when you're using the computer in a remote session, all of the shut down options are removed. You can't shut it down, you can't reboot, and you can't put it to sleep! All you can do is disconnect from the remote session.

Using Windows 8.1 Pro in local session.


Using Windows 8.1 Pro in remote session.


What's the reasoning behind this? Are there security reasons for why Microsoft has decided to remove these options from the "new" (reinvented) Start button? Have they overlooked this? And can I somehow add these options back, e.g. through some security policy edit maybe?

Besides the paranormal way of starting the Command Prompt (cmd.exe) and using the shutdown command, are there any other normal (user friendly) ways to shut down, reboot, or put the computer to sleep graphically (point and click)?

Update 1 - Group policy

There is actually a group policy that can remove the "Disconnect" option from the Shut down menu on Start button. You can find it in Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Remote Desktop Services, Remote Desktop Session Host, Remote Session Environment. The name of the policy is "Remove "Disconnect" option from Shut Down dialog".


This will also remove the Disconnect option from the Shut Down Windows dialog (i.e. Alt+F4).

This is quite the opposite of what I wanted. But is there perhaps another set of policy rules that will allow me to add the options Sleep, Shutdown and Restart to the Shut down menu on Start button?

Update 2 - Shortcuts

I ended up creating some shortcuts to the shutdown command on the remote desktop.

For shutting down...

C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe -s -t 20 -c "Bye bye!" -f -d p:0:0

For rebooting...

C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe -r -t 20 -c "See you later alligator!" -f -d p:0:0

If stuff happens...

C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe -a

I have them sitting in the upper right corner of the desktop. Hopefully I won't trigger them accidentally. But if I do there is the abort command. Here's what it looks like.


It would have been nice if I could add these shortcuts to the Shut down menu on the so called "Start" button. But this will do the job. It's a pity that it's not as easy as changing a group policy rule.

  • 2
    Do you only get "Disconnect" option in your remote session when you focus on the Desktop (click Show Desktop on bottom right) and hit Alt-F4? This shortcut (which, when focused on a program, closes it) will bring up the "Shut Down Windows" dialog box when the focus is on the Desktop.
    – ADTC
    Nov 10, 2013 at 17:13
  • 3
    Microsoft has always made it difficult to shutdown by remote session. This has been the case since Windows XP. I use the Process Explorer from Sysinternals as Taskmanager. It has the option to shutdown. But you can just as easy make a shortcut to shutdown /s.
    – Rik
    Nov 10, 2013 at 17:21
  • 1
    @ADTC Yes, Alt+F4 brings up the dialog box with the options Disconnect, Sign out, Sleep, Shut down, and Restart. But this still requires that one already knows about this keyboard shortcut beforehand, and it's not as simple as two mouse clicks. You have to use the keyboard.
    – Samir
    Nov 10, 2013 at 17:51
  • Well, that's Windows for ya :) (Anyway as others have suggested, you can just make a shortcut to the shutdown command and pin it somewhere convenient.)
    – ADTC
    Nov 10, 2013 at 17:57
  • 1
    Interesting new way to use paranormal. Nov 10, 2013 at 22:13

6 Answers 6


The reasoning behind this is if you are working from a remote computer and you shut it down, how do you turn it back on? It is a "Safty" feature to prevent a remote computer from becoming in a unuseable state.

As for work arounds, shutdown really is the best way. You can always make a shortcut to the program with the command line arguments /s /t 0 included if you want a icon to do it. Or if you really must have a GUI you could have your shortcut be to shutdown /i, however I think that GUI is a lot more "abnormal" than typing something in the command line.

(One thing you may want to check, I don't have a windows 8 box in front of me to check, but from inside the RDP session do a Ctrl-Alt-End, this sends a Ctrl-Alt-Del to the remote computer and there may be a shutdown command from the menu that comes up)

  • What is Ctrl+Alt+Insert supposed to do? It doesn't do anything for me. I have the remote desktop in focus and in full screen mode when I press it. But Ctrl+Alt+End brings up a screen with only the option to Disconnect.
    – Samir
    Nov 10, 2013 at 18:10
  • 1
    Regarding the "safety" feature... you can always power the computer back on over LAN (Wake on LAN)?! Basically all modern computers today support WOL. So I don't see this as a reason enough to remove these options from the new Start button in Windows 8.1. It's not like you will be installing Windows 8.1 on a 15 years old PC. Windows 8.1 runs on modern hardware, hardware that supports WOL. So that should not be an issue. But as always, Microsoft knows best what features and options are best for us...
    – Samir
    Nov 10, 2013 at 18:15
  • 11
    By making it hard to shut off a computer remotely Microsoft is simply trying to make users fall in to the pit of success, if you are remotely working on a computer you are magnitudes more likely to just want to log off but out of habit you may shut down. The number of users frustrated by accidentally turning off a computer remotely and having no way to turn it back on is larger than the number who are frustrated by the fact that they have to use a special command to turn the computer off from a remote session. Nov 10, 2013 at 18:39
  • 1
    The reasoning behind completely disallowing remote shutdowns is pure nonsense. Requesting a remote shutdown on a server-edition system will bring up a dialog asking "are you REALLY SURE you want to shut down a system which you can't turn back on without physically going there?", and this is an effective safeguard from accidental remote shutdowns. Disallowing them altogether is even more wrong than freely allowing them.
    – Massimo
    Nov 6, 2014 at 23:38
  • 1
    Bad answer, because: you miss the proper answer of "use alt-F4 on desktop" and: it claims the fallacy "it is so, therefore it must have a good reason". No, it has no good reason. Windows 7 had a simple way to shutdown over RDP right in the start menu. The server versions also. And even MS realized the mistake and returned the option in Windows 10. Jun 1, 2020 at 8:57

Windows 8 makes it less easy to click shutdown or restart through a Remote Desktop session. If you:

  • Click [Start Screen] > Settings > Power — you can only Disconnect.
  • Type Ctrl+Alt+End — you gain Lock, Sign-out, Change Password and Task Manager.
  • Right-click your User Account picture — you can Change Account Picture, Lock and Sign-out.
  • Create a desktop shortcut to shutdown

To shutdown through the UI, you must drop to the desktop (Windows key + D) and type Alt+F4 to reveal a shutdown dialogue box.

However, this assumes that the desktop actually has the focus and no other windows are open otherwise, Alt+F4 will simply close the active window.

So if you have multiple windows open, you’ll need to minimize them all first.

  • You may want to add that one can easily minimize all windows with a single click using the "Show the Desktop" feature (not sure if Windows 8 Desktop has it, but on Windows 7, you can click the small button at the right end of the taskbar). You can also access this feature by right-clicking the taskbar.
    – ADTC
    Nov 10, 2013 at 17:17
  • 1
    @ADTC Show the Desktop works the same way in Windows 7 and 8 and 8.1. But on Windows XP and Vista it's usually found in the Quick Start area on the Taskbar.
    – Samir
    Nov 10, 2013 at 19:18
  • +1 Have spent some time trying to work out how to "Update and shutdown" over RDP. Not seen this technique anywhere else and it provides the only method I've found so far to actually do that (and so easy!). Agree with @Massimo - this is the best answer. Nov 19, 2014 at 18:22
  • You make my century
    – odiszapc
    Feb 23, 2016 at 16:18

Switch to the desktop and press AltF4. In the dialog that shows there will be a shutdown option.

  • 1
    This should be the answer as it is the only way to do this via the GUI and not through a command window (not that there is anything wrong with a command window) Feb 12, 2016 at 16:54

Start Taskmgr replacements like ProcessExplorer or ProcesHacker. The provide shutdown functionality which also works for remote connections.

enter image description here

  • What is Hybrid Shutdown?
    – ADTC
    Nov 10, 2013 at 17:59
  • 1
    @ADTC techrepublic.com/blog/windows-and-office/… Basically it is like doing a Hibernate however it only stores the kernal state, no user state information is recorded in the hibernation file. This allows for the Fast Boot option that is new to Windows 8. Nov 10, 2013 at 18:22
  • Also to add: It's why your PC may boot in a few seconds but seems to take much longer than that when you reboot it (for security patches for example) - because when it reboots, it's boots normally without the benefit of the hybrid shutdown. Cool stuff.
    – Mark Allen
    Nov 11, 2013 at 21:43

The way I do it is open a command prompt and to shutdown I type:

shutdown -s

To reboot:

shutdown -r
  • Yes, that would be the paranormal method. It involves starting Command Prompt and manually typing in commands. It's not very intuitive for the most of us, or as quick and easy for the rest of us (super users). But yes, this would work. Don't forget to add -t 0 option. If you don't add it there's a 60 second delay by default.
    – Samir
    Nov 10, 2013 at 17:57
  • 2
    windows+R to bring up Run screen then shutdown /f /r /t 0 to Force a Restart and wait 0 seconds... is second nature to me. Color me a nerd.
    – WernerCD
    Nov 11, 2013 at 1:44
  • -1 This initiates a forced shutdown, which kills all your open programs. The normal shutdown procedure closes them gracefully.
    – kinokijuf
    Oct 24, 2014 at 7:32

Cntrl + Alt + End Then click on the power button you have options to restart and shutdown with no command line or funky shortcuts.

  • 4
    As a matter of fact, there are no such options.
    – Daniel B
    Oct 13, 2014 at 18:37
  • 2
    In a remote session, this has the same effect as Ctrl + Alt + Del in a local session. In a Windows 8 remote session, this brings up the screen where you can select to sign out, lock the computer, or open Task Manager. As illustrated by the screenshot @DanielB posted, you can only select to disconnect. You cannot shut it down this way.
    – Samir
    Oct 14, 2014 at 20:24
  • 1
    Worked great in Windows 7, but gone in Windows 8.1.
    – Mark Berry
    Oct 30, 2014 at 19:53

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