Changing The Power Button Default Action

One of the more obscure idiosyncrancies of Windows Vista is its handling of its ‘power off’ options presented by default on the ‘Start Menu’. A newly configured Windows Vista installation has the ‘Power Off’ button set to put the computer in to sleep mode, and looks like the picture below.

Whilst this may be fine if you have a desktop connected to the mains permanently, it could cause a problem with a laptop, as it still draws a very small charge from the laptop battery, and will eventually drain the battery entirely. Also, in this age of environmental awareness many people would prefer to shut down their PC’s completely. The standard method is to click the arrow to the right of the power button, and then select the Shut Down option from the list.

A much more elegant solution is to change the action for the power button using the following procedure:

  • Click the Windows button and select the ‘Control Panel‘ option.
  • Make sure the ‘Classic View‘ option is selected, and then open the ‘Power Options‘ applet.
  • In the ‘Select a Power Plan’ pane, your current power plan will be indicated by a radio button – select the option marked ‘Change Plan Settings‘ for your current Power Plan.
  • In the next screen select the option marked ‘Change advanced power settings‘ and you will see a dialog similar to the one below

  • Scroll down until you see the option marked ‘Power Buttons and Lid‘ and expand it by clicking the plus symbol
  • Expand the option marked ‘Start menu power button‘, and you will see two options ‘On Battery‘ and ‘Plugged In‘.
  • Each of the items can have one of two states, ‘Sleep’ or ‘Shutdown’ clicking the option will allow you to change the action. In our example above the action has been changed to ‘Shutdown’
  • Click ‘Apply‘ and then exit back to the desktop. When you next click the ‘Start Menu‘ you will see a power button similar to the one below