Stop, Cancel, Abort System Shutdown in Windows 10/8/7

Sometimes, you may get to see a message – The system is shutting down. Please save all your work. Or you may get to see a message – Restart your computer in 10 minutes to finish installing important Windows Updates. Or maybe you clicked on the Shutdown or Restart button accidentally, before saving your work and you’d like to stop or abort system shutdown and stop this operation. You can create this handy Windows desktop shortcut that can help you in such situations.

Cancel System Shutdown or Restart


You cannot cancel a restart or shutdown using the Shutdown Event Tracker Windows interface. It is only possible to perform this task from the command line. To cancel or abort system shutdown or restart, open Command Prompt, type shutdown /a within the time-out period and hit Enter. It would instead be easier to create a desktop or keyboard shortcut for it. The /a argument will abort a system shutdown and can only be used during the time-out period.

Create Abort System Shutdown shortcut

Right-click on an empty area on your desktop. Select New>Shortcut.  In the first box of the Create Shortcut Wizard, type: shutdown.exe -a.  Now click Next and name the shortcut: Abort Shutdown. Click Finish. Finally, select an appropriate icon for it!

To give this Abort System Shutdown shortcut, a keyboard shortcut, right-click on it > Properties > Shortcut tab. In the Shortcut key box, you will see “None’ written. Click in this box, and press A key from your keyboard. The letters Ctrl + Alt + Del will automatically appear, and will now be your keyboard shortcut to abort shutdown or abort restart. Click Apply > OK.

property windows

This can be used only during the timeout period. So do remember that you may have only a few seconds to stop the shutdown or restart process from taking effect, and so you better have real fast fingers to be able to use this shortcut!

Alternatively, what you can do, is to create a separate shortcut for Shutdown first, as follows:

Right-click on an empty area on your desktop. Select New>Shortcut.  In the first box of the Create Shortcut Wizard, type: Shutdown -s -t 30.  Click Next. Name the shortcut: Shutdown, and click Finish.  Then select an appropriate icon for it!

When you use this shortcut to shut down, you will first get a dialog box stating: Windows will shut down in less than a minute. In our case, it will shutdown in 30 seconds.

This will give you 30 seconds to abort system shutdown. Once the shutdown or restart is aborted, you will get an icon in your system tray.

Click on the icon to make it disappear!

Similarly, you can create a Restart shortcut with a 15 seconds delay using instead: Shutdown -r -t 30.

Speaking of shutdown switches, you may want to see Shutdown options in Windows, and New CMD switches for shutdown.exe in Windows.

Post ported from WinVistaClub, updated and posted here.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.


  1. Emily

    very helpful thank you

  2. bhavesh barde

    how to prevent auto shut down while playing on line games my pc shuts down abruptly no issues with over heating or configuration properties for the games it does not happen if i leave my pc on for more than 3 days it still keeps running

  3. Which OS? Any errors or BSOD displayed? Shutdowns scheduled? Try posting at to get best answers.

  4. Behdad

    Thanks man,
    It was really helpful.

  5. RedHawk1989

    Does it “shut down” or does it “power off”. The former could be things like windows update the latter will almost certainly be hardware auto-powering off to save a component that is overheating (CPU/GPU/RAM etc)

  6. While the computer was shutting down (blue “Shutting down” screen on Windows 10), I pressed Ctrl-Alt-Del, started Task Manager, and my computer stayed on.

  7. Prakash Jung Shrestha

    Thank you so much for you helpful information

  8. ambadas deshpande

    hi my system( Windows 8) gets automatically shutdown after a certain time, i tried above steps, no effect kindly help.

  9. Andrew L

    very helpful indeed, thanks

  10. Haylemariam

    Thanks, really helpful.

  11. Bruce Fraser

    Thanks, Anand!
    When I click the shortcut, it works as expected.
    When I press Ctrl-Alt-A, nothing happens. Yes, I completed the step to create the keyboard shortcut.
    Is there an extra step required to make a keyboard shortcut recognized anywhere and anytime in Windows, no matter what software is in the forefront at the time?

  12. Bruce Fraser

    For example, Ctrl-Alt-Del and Ctrl-Shift-Esc will cause a response, no matter what the computer may be doing at that moment. Those are universal shortcuts in Windows. How does one make Ctrl-Alt-A similar to them?

  13. If Ctrl-Alt-A does not work for you, maybe it is reserved on your system. Try another combination.

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