How to shutdown or restart Windows over a Remote Desktop connection

I would love the world to think of me as an industrious, prolific IT director and blogger; however, I’ve finally avowed this one truth:

I’m lazy.

Yep.  Why hide it.  It’s true.

I like to take the easy way out, the path of least resistance, and I have a propensity to be dormant unless someone lights a flame under my butt.

My indolence is precisely what makes programs like Remote Desktop such a joy to use.  Why should I get up and walk over to a server when I can remotely connect to it from the comfort of my desk?  Remote Desktop lets me access almost any Windows computer on my network and gives me the feeling of sitting right there in front of the box.

A bunch of smart people at Microsoft concocted the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), and with the advent of Windows XP,  Microsoft began bundling the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) with ever OS since.

The RDC client is great because it supports cool features like 24-bit color, audio, and file system redirection. So, for example, you can open a Youtube video on the remote computer and hear the audio on your local machine. Or you can access the files on your local machine from the remote machine.  All this magic is made possible through the RDP and what Microsoft calls the Terminal Services client (mstsc.exe).

Whenever you connect to a Microsoft Server, the Shutdown and Restart buttons are visible in the little arrow immediately to the right of the lock icon.

Logoff and Restart Buttons

But you might be wondering how to do the same thing when opening a remote connection on a Windows 7 box.

As you can see, there’s only a Lock and Disconnect option but no Shutdown or Restart function.

Windows 7 Pro missing shutdown buttons

To restart the remote computer, click the Start button and enter this command in the search box:

shutdown /r /t 0

The /r switch tells the machine to reboot and the /t option sets the number of seconds to execute the command. Since we set /t to zero, the restart should initiate immediately.

To shutdown the machine just enter:

shutdown /s

The other option is to just to click the Desktop and press Alt + F4 to bring up the shutdown menu.

Finally, if you execute the shutdown command but then suddenly realize you made a mistake type:

shutdown /a

This will attempt to abort the shutdown sequence.

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Posted in How To, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Tagged with:
  • Eugene

    Ammyy Admin is also good
    It doesn’t require installation and registration. Easy and fast app.

    • GatoCat

      Why would you want an app when you can do this?

  • To avoid having to remember this and type it every time, create a shortcut on the remote computer’s desktop, and set the target to “shutdown.exe /r /t 0”.

    If that doesn’t work, try the full path of: “C:WindowsSystem32shutdown.exe /r /t 0”

  • Bishop Clark

    shutdown is a noun. You may have been looking for ‘to shut down’

  • Shoumen Biswas

    Thanks. It was helpful

  • Razi M

    Restart / shutdown windows machine ALT + F4 is the best option to restart / shutdown
    windows machine when connected from remote desktop session.

  • kidjedi

    alt+f4… perfect. Thanks so much!

  • Juliet Bell

    The above steps are too technical. Instead, I would recommend use of remote support apps like R-HUB remote support servers, logmein, teamviewer etc. for shutting down or restarting windows over remote desktop connection.

    • Julie Hancock Snapp

      Two steps are definitely way more technical than going through a sign-up/verification/payment process to do the same thing. That’s sarcasm, by the way.

      • Omendata

        lol she does bang on about R-Hub!
        Nice tits though!
        Thats also sarcasm by the way…just by the way!

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