How to Shut Down Windows 10 via Remote Desktop (RDP)

The issue with shutting down or rebooting a PC or server via Remote Desktop on Windows 8 (and 8.1) applies to Windows 10 as well.

Why Microsoft has chosen to make it so difficult is hard for me to understand, but perhaps their own engineers have sausage fingers and keep switching off instead of logging off their servers remotely? Or could it possibly be related to the HP engineer that accidentally formatted all the servers of Australian bank client CommBank? Probably the former, but the CommBank incident is an interesting read for any System Center admins 🙂

So, on to the issue at hand: maybe this looks familiar to you? I am referring to the shutdown icon menu only showing “Disconnect” as an option, so please ignore all the tiles.

Shutdown Windows 10 via RDP 01

Or maybe this, when right-clicking the Start menu icon? “Disconnect” or “Sign out”. Not exactly what I am used to seeing on my local computer or an older Windows computer.

Shutdown Windows 10 via RDP 02

Well,  you’re in the right place, because the solution is simple:

Just press ALT + F4!

Shutdown Windows 10 via RDP 03

“Wait, did I just shut down that server? I thought I was just logging off…” – HP employee.

Yes, you’re allowed to shut down or restart Windows 10 via RDP after all. This also applies to Windows 8.x.

Shutdown Windows 10 via RDP 04

Click “Yes” and hope for the best, or die like the rest.

Still having trouble? No go with the ALT + F4 combo?

So, for some reason you can’t send the ALT + F4 combination remotely? Perhaps you’re using an RDP app or something else that doesn’t have this option.

Fear not. If you can still type, try to type CMD in the search box or in Windows Explorer on the remote computer you have connected to via RDP, then press enter or click “CMD” or “Command Prompt”.

Then all you need to do is run the “shutdown” command with an argument or two tagged on. (You can run shutdown without any arguments to display a list of all possible arguments.)

Run “shutdown /p /f” to force a local shutdown.

Run “shutdown /r /f” to force a local reboot.

If you are on the same network, depending on permissions, you can also try running Command Prompt on your computer with administrative permissions, then executing a remote shutdown command:

“shutdown /m \\computername /f /t 00”

Or you could try running the shutdown tool in interactive GUI mode by executing “shutdown /i” to see a more user friendly graphical interface.

Update July 1st 2015:
To make my life easier when remote rebooting a Windows 10 computer, I recently just created a batch file and put it on the desktop. Simply open Notepad and paste or type this in:

shutdown.exe /r /f /t 00 

Save it as “reboot.bat” for example. Select file type “All” and put quotation marks around the file name to avoid saving it as a .txt file.

Now whenever you need to reboot the computer running Windows 10 remotely, you can just double-click the icon on the desktop or execute it from a remote command line using psexec.

Hope this quick guide was helpful to you.