Wondering whether you should sign out of Windows, shut it down, or do nothing? Find out here why and when singing off makes sense and how to find the command to log off Windows.

First, YES‐‐1,NO‐‐2

Yes? All right:

This is a game in which you will be playing against the random decision of the computer.

begin the instructions for Jerimac Ratliff’s Cube, published in 1978’s BASIC Computer Games, a collection of games for Atari. One step at a time, you work your way through a cube in Ratliff’s game. Here’s the thing, though:

One minor detail, the computer will pick, at random, 5 locations at which it will plant land mines.

Does this sound familiar? Yes, Cube is an early ancestor of Minesweeper—which Microsoft have randomly placed in their store with Windows 10.

Feel like they have also randomly hidden the “Log Off Windows”-button, -key, -menu, -anything? Let’s find out how to still log off Windows; step by step:

How to Log Off Windows

To log your out of Windows and close all applications and files:

  1. Click the Start button in Windows.
  2. Now click your Windows account icon at the left.
    • In the expanded Start menu, you will see your name next to the icon.
    • Do not click the power button.
  3. Select Sign out from the menu that has appeared.

For a possibly faster way, try the Start menu’s context menu:

  1. Click on the Start menu button with the right mouse button in Windows.
  2. Select Shut down or sign out | Sign out from the menu.

How to Log Off Windows with a Keyboard Shortcut

To log off Windows using just the keyboard:

  1. Press Ctrl Alt Del.
  2. Now use the up (⬆︎) and down (⬇︎) arrow keys to highlight Sign out.
  3. Press Enter.
    • You can also click Sign out with the mouse, of course, or press Alt S (for “sign out”).

How to Log Off Windows: FAQ

What Happens When I Log Out of Windows?

When you log out of Windows,

  • all applications that you have opened on the computer are closed,
  • all your Windows account’s files are properly closed and saved, and
  • Windows returns to the log-on screen (which is presented when you first start a computer, for example, or switch users).

When Is It Useful to Log Off Windows? When Should I Do It?

Logging off lets others use the computer without your processes and files open in the background. Even though the performance penalty may be minimal, why not avoid it when easily you can?

More importantly, logging out of Windows lets Windows close all files you had open. That includes not only the documents you worked on but also all the files Windows needs to work and be customized for you, and all the preferences you set in all the applications you use.

Usually, it is only when files are closed and no longer used anywhere that they can be backed up. Often, closing files is also necessary for network or VPN files to be properly saved and synchronized.

So, it is a good idea to

  • log off your Windows computer whenever you leave it for a longer period of time, say overnight.

If you will return promptly (or have three dozens of projects open which surely you will finish tomorrow; or the day after tomorrow), you can lock Windows instead.

(Logging off Windows tested with Windows 10; updated September 2017; title image: StockUnlimited)