Schedule an Automatic PC Shutdown with Windows 7

December 1, 2010, By Christian Cawley

Have you ever forgotten to turn your PC off? Sat browsing the web or playing games until 3am, gone to get a glass of juice and fallen asleep with your head inside the fridge door?

Meanwhile, in your den the PC is still running – in fact, the game might even still be running, and you’re getting repeatedly fragged. Some sort of automatic shutdown would be useful, wouldn’t it?

Using Windows 7 Task Scheduler, various tasks can be set up and scheduled to allow a degree of automation in your Windows 7 computer, including an automated system shut down.

Schedule an Automatic PC Shutdown with Windows 7

Save Money and Energy

By employing Task Scheduler to manage a system shut down in your absence, you can effectively save money and energy – this is a great example of green computing, using existing technology to aid the environment, and if used regularly over the course of a year it could save you over £30 if you live in the UK and leave your PC running every night. That’s £30 the electricity company won’t be getting.

The really ridiculous thing about this particular process is that it is so easy to set up. Task Scheduler can be horribly complicated and confusing to use, even in its new and improved Windows 7 look, but this is so easy to setup that it might even spur you on to look into other ways in which Task Scheduler can be used.

Formulating the Process

Task Scheduler relies on triggers in order to begin processing a particular program or function. With this in mind, before opening the utility we need to consider how we can shut down the PC. For instance, if the PC is in use, we don’t want it to shut down so specifying the shutdown to occur while Windows 7 is running idle is a good idea.

Also this should only occur during the night, for instance between 1am and 3am. Finally, the Task Scheduler will require a script or program to execute – in this case it will be shutdown.exe, found in the System 32 folder.

Shut Down Your PC with Task Scheduler

We’re now ready to begin – in Windows 7, go to Start and in the search box type task. This should display Task Scheduler as the first result, so click this to open the utility.

A quick browse through the list in the left pane will reveal that Windows uses Task Scheduler extensively to perform certain tasks. To add your own, go to Action > Create Task, and in the General Tab complete the Name field; type Automated Shut Down.

Give the task a description, and then select the Run whether use is logged in or not radio button. In the Configure for: drop down menu, select Windows 7.

Move onto the Triggers tab next, and click New… to specify what will prompt the shutdown to commence. Set the Begin the task: drop down to On idle, and in the Advanced Settings section use the Activate and Expire fields to set a start and end time, such as between 1am and 3 am as suggested earlier. Click OK to proceed and then go to the Actions tab.

Once again click New… to add an action and in the Action: drop down menu select Start a program. This might seem superfluous, but the program we’re going to start is shutdown.exe, which you will be able to find via Browse in %SystemRoot%\System32. Click OK to accept this and proceed to the Conditions tab.

Here you can set the instruction to Start the task only if the computer is idle; simply tick the box and select both idle times to match what you think are appropriate. Finally in the Settings tab you will need to clear the Stop task if it runs longer than: option if you intend to use the task long term.

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