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Reboot or Shutdown from Remote Desktop Connection

with 16 comments

If you have ever feel frustrated because you have been unable to reboot a machine from a remote location (using Microsoft’s own RDC), here’s a solution. While I recall having the option to send a Ctrl+Alt+Del to the remote machine that doesn’t seem to be available in most recent versions of the software, or at least not in the obvious places.

So, what you are left with right now is disconnect and log off options. To be able to reboot or shutdown the remote system you can call up the Command Prompt (cmd.exe) or just type the following in XP’s Run or in Vista’s search line that also serves the purpose of launching programs:

“shutdown -f” to shutdown
“shutdown -r -f” to reboot
“shutdown -i -f” to get a GUI
“shutdown -l -f” to logoff

Written by Julio Franco

December 24th, 2007 at 2:50 pm

16 Comments so far

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  1. I don’t recall where I recently read this, but you can try Ctrl+Shift+Esc to get the Task Manager on the remote machine. It worked for me! Another way is to use the remote “Run” box, from the Start menu, and type ‘taskmgr.exe’ (without quotes, of course). For some reason, I’ve found it works more reliably with the ‘.exe’ on the end, but, theoretically, it should work without it.


    16 Feb 08 at 10:58 pm

  2. Hi!

    A friend of mine (nickname SurZer) made this Java app for me.
    Downloadable here:

    You need to have the Java Runtime Environment installed in order to make the app work on a XP machine. Search for “java runtime environment” on Google and you will find some links from where you can download JRE. After that, the previous mentioned app that my friend made ill work.

    Njoy :)


    3 May 08 at 7:15 pm

  3. Here’s a simple method: Right-click the task bar and select Task Manager from the popup menu. On the main menu, click Shut Down / Restart or whatever you want.

    Ian Crane

    11 Mar 09 at 5:04 pm

  4. Ian, nice trick, but not possible on some versions of Vista or 7.


    19 May 09 at 4:16 pm

  5. The easiest way is to create yourself a good old fashion DOS file called a batch file. Here is how you do it.

    1)Open notepad
    2)type in the desired command shown below
    3)Use ‘save as’ to save the file with a .bat extension. Example: Reboot.bat
    (Some versions of notepad will require that you change the ‘save as type’ to all files to save it with this extension.
    4)Thats it!

    shutdown -f Shutdown
    shutdown -r -f Reboot
    shutdown -i -f GUI Change
    shutdown -l -f Logout

    Good Luck!



    19 May 09 at 4:49 pm

  6. Yes, I have since encountered remote desktops where I couldn’t use the task bar trick. I’ve resigned myself to memorizing the shutdown command. I was impressed when doing this on a remote desktop connection to a Vista Business machine because it implemented a one-minute delay, which gave me time to log out gracefully. That was a nice touch.

    The batch file approach is nice if you only work with a few known machines. I’m all over the place, so the fastest method for me is to memorize the command prompt text. I admit that I resent having to give up space in my brain for that information. There’s only so much I can retain and the darn thing’s been full for years now.

    “There is not enough avaialable free space for brain defragmenter to run effectively…”

    Ian Crane

    19 May 09 at 8:04 pm

  7. I have never been faced with a problem when trying to shutdown from a remote desktop. I have been using Windows 7 as well. Hopefully I am never faced with this issue, because not being able to control my other desktop remotely would be very annoying.

  8. This isn’t that difficult. Press Alt+F4 when you’re focused on the desktop. Select restart. Done.


    3 Dec 09 at 11:39 am

  9. Anon has easiest solution – it does work on my Win XP machine.

    The only restriction is I have to restore the window to be able to Alt+F4. It doesn’t work in full-screen mode.


    7 Dec 09 at 2:04 am

  10. I verified that Anon’s Alt+F4 works on the environments I use. Excellent, thank you!

    Ian Crane

    22 Dec 09 at 5:33 pm

  11. Alt+F4 – worked on xp for me.


    17 Mar 10 at 7:53 am

  12. Yep, Alt+F4 works for on Windows 7 x64



    5 Apr 10 at 12:06 am

  13. To remotely shutdown or restart a computer, as long as it’s in a domain:

    shutdown -m \\computername
    to restart:
    shutdown -m \\computername -r -t #

    this is usefull when the user does not have the proper priviledges

    Enrique Alvarez

    24 May 10 at 11:39 am

  14. Alt +F4 works on Win7 to shutdowm Vista Home…thanks

    Doc Holiay

    25 Aug 10 at 11:40 pm

  15. Julio:

    Thanks for putting this together. I thought maybe the readers of this page would benefit from a remote desktop software comparison chart that I was involved in putting together, since they likely use remote desktop software:

    If you think if would be beneficial, please add it as a reference on this page. The chart made the first page of digg and has been tweeted like crazy, so people are finding it useful.


    – Amy


    12 Sep 10 at 5:11 pm

  16. Windows 7 – Remote Desktop Shutdown – ‘shutdown /s’ only works…


    18 Oct 10 at 8:12 am

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