November 7, 2009

The Power button

The Power button

The Power button at the lower-right side of the Start menu plays several roles and can take one of two appearances. If the Power button has no icon beside it, and reads Shut Down, clicking the button powers down your computer. If you see a shield icon on the button in addition to the words Shut Down, Windows will install downloaded updates and then shut down. Clicking the arrow on the Power button displays several options.

Switch User: Switches to another user account without logging out of the current account.

Log Off: Closes all open items, logs out of the current user account, and returns to the login screen.

Lock: Hides the desktop behind a login screen. Regaining access requires entering the user account password.

Shut Down: Closes all open items and shuts down the computer.

Restart: Closes all open items and restarts the computer (also called a reboot or warm boot).

Sleep: Puts the computer in a state in which it consumes little power without losing your place on the screen.

Hibernate: Saves what’s on your desktop and then shuts down the computer all the way so that it’s consuming no power at all. When you restart the computer and log in, your desktop is returned to wherever you left things.

Different types of computers offer different options for sleeping, hibernating, and shutting down. How you restart the computer also varies. For example, when you put the computer to sleep, you can often wake it up just by tapping a key on the keyboard or by moving the mouse. Or, on a notebook computer, simply opening the lid to view the screen may wake up the computer. When you hibernate or shut down the computer, you have to use the main On/Off switch to turn the computer back on. But because these vary from one computer to the next, I can’t say exactly which options your computer offers or how they work. If you have any trouble with those options, refer to the instruction manual that came with your computer for specifics. At times, the button for powering down the computer might show a shield and exclamation point, as shown in picture. When you point to that button, the tooltip shows information like that shown in the picture. The button and tooltip are telling you that your computer has automatically received an update that requires you to click that button. Go ahead and do so. Don’t worry: It’s not a security risk. Nothing bad will happen, it won’t cost you any money, and everything will work the way it did before. The update is just a security patch or minor fix. Go ahead and click the exclamation point button and wait for the computer to shut down on its own.

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