How to auto shutdown Windows when it's been idle for a while

Do you leave your PC idle for long period of times? And, if so, is that a regular affair where you then come back to turn it off?

If that’s the case, then you might benefit from scheduling an auto-shutdown. By setting up an auto-shutdown, you can set up your PC to go turn off depending on specific cues.

How to schedule an auto shutdown for Windows when its idle

To set up an automatic shutdown, you’ll need to use the Windows Task Scheduler. The Task Scheduler is a free Windows tool that lets you run any predefined scripts or programs at a specified time. As the name implies, it's a program through which you can automate your tasks.

To enable automatic shutdown for an idle computer, you first have to create a task for shutdown in your Task Scheduler. Here’s how.

  1. Go to the Start menu search bar, type in ‘task scheduler,’ and select the best match.
  2. In the Task Scheduler, select Action and click on Create Basic Task…
  3. Now in the Create Basic Task Wizard, type in the name for your shutdown task (we’ve named it shut down), and click on Next.
  4. Select Daily to set up the automatic shutdown for daily.
  5. For the Action option, select the Start a program radio box.
  6. Type in ‘shutdown.exe’ for the Program/Script field and click on Next.

Click on Finish to finalize the task. This will create a shutdown task on your Windows. But our work isn’t done yet. We still have to set up a trigger that gets activated whenever your Windows becomes idle for a long time, and this, in turn, will push the above script to run.

creating a basic task

basic task wizard

shutdown script

Here’s how you can do that:

On the main menu of Task Scheduler, head to the shutdown task you just created above, right-click on it, and select Properties.

Then head to the Conditions tab and select the Start the task only if the computer is idle for the checkbox. Enter the time limit until which your PC can stay idle before the auto shutdown takes over; click on OK to finalize the changes. An auto-shutdown will be set up for your Windows.

shutdown properties

How to stop an auto shutdown in your PC

You can turn off or delete out the shutdown feature easily as well. Just launch the Task Scheduler, go to the shutdown task, right-click on it and select Disable. That’s it, the shutdown task will be disabled.

deleting tasks in task scheduler

Alternatively, you can delete it altogether as well. Just right-click on the task, and choose Delete. You’ll get a confirmation dialog box. Simply click on Yes to confirm the deletion.

All about creating automatic shutdowns

The Task Scheduler is a handy utility that can help you automate a bunch of Windows stuff. In this case, we saw how you can automate a shutdown when your PC is left as it is for a while. But that’s not all; you can do a lot more with Task Scheduler, so don't stop here, and continue to explore about it.

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