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How to Reboot Your Computer on Windows, Mac and Linux

Abby Braden
Last Updated December 14, 2023 10:17 pm
Rebooting a computer by pressing the power button.


To reboot your computer means to restart it by closing out open programs, wiping any current processes residing in RAM, and restarting the operating system (OS). Reboots are often used when installing updates or troubleshooting a problem.

Rebooting a computer helps resolve issues such as internet connectivity problems, slow browser response, and software or hardware issues. It essentially resets any code working improperly and helps keep the computer running smoothly.

We at Webopedia recommend rebooting your computer at least once a week to return everything to its bootup state, from the CPU to the memory. 

Reboot vs. reset

In general, reboot, restart, power cycle, and soft reset all mean the same thing—to shut the device off completely and then turn it back on. The terms are largely interchangeable. 

The main variance between rebooting and restarting is the operating system used and its corresponding terminology. Windows or Linux users reboot their computer, even though most versions use restart as the verbiage within the system. Mac users restart their computer. Both terms are referring to the same process, but vary based on the operating system used. 

There is, however, a difference between rebooting and resetting a computer. When a computer is rebooted, the programs and files that are in the RAM are removed, allowing the RAM a fresh, clean start. When the computer is turned on, all the data and files are still intact.

When a computer is reset, the programs and files stored on the computer are erased. To reset a device is to put it back in the same state it was in when first purchased. Resetting a computer should be done only if absolutely necessary; an example being a forgotten password or a problem with the device’s hard drive. 

7 ways to reboot your computer

Below, we’ve outlined 7 ways to reboot your computer for different types of users and cases. 

  1. How to reboot a Windows 10 or Windows 8 computer

    1. Open the Start menu.

    2. Click the power icon at the bottom of the screen for Windows 10 or top of the screen for Windows 8.
    3. Click Restart

    Using shortcut keys

    To avoid opening the full Start menu:
    1. Open the Power User Menu by pressing the Windows + X
    2. Click Shut down or sign out
    3. Click Restart
  2. How to reboot Windows 7, Vista, or XP

    1. Close any files or programs that are open on the laptop. 

    2. Open the Start Menu at the bottom left of the task bar of the Windows desktop.

    3. Click the right arrow next to the Shut down button. 

    4. From the menu that appears, click Restart.

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  3. How to reboot a Windows computer using Ctrl + Alt + Del

    Often referred to as “Security Keys,” the Ctrl + Alt + Del keys pressed simultaneously opens a blue administrative window. From here, you can lock your PC, switch or log out the user, and restart or power down your computer.

    1. Press the Ctrl + Alt + Del keys. A shutdown dialog box will appear. The box will look different depending on the Windows version used.


    2. Click restart within the dialog box: 
     – Windows 10 and 8: Click the power icon on the bottom right of the screen and press Restart
     – Windows 7 and Vista: Click the arrow next to the red power button and click Restart
     – Windows XP: click the Shut Down tab from the menu, then click Restart.
  4. How to reboot a Windows computer via Command Prompt

    Every system has a Command Prompt, also known as a ‘cmd,’ that can facilitate a reboot. 

    1. Open Command Prompt by searching ‘cmd’ within the search tab at the bottom or pressing Windows + R keys. From here, the Run box will open. Type cmd and then OK.

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    2. When the Command Prompt opens, type in either shutdown/r or shutdown-r and press Enter. 

    3. Wait while the computer restarts. Note that it restarts because the /r or -r parameter indicates restarting. The /s parameter indicates shutting down. 

    Read also: The White Screen of Death: Apple and Windows
  5. How to reboot a Linux system

    1. Open the terminal window by right clicking on the desktop, then clicking Open Terminal from the menu that appears. 

    2. In a terminal window, type either reboot or sudo systemctl reboot

    The sudo command tells Linux to run the command as an administrator, so you may need to type your password. The system will be restarted immediately. While the reboot is initiated, all logged-in users are notified that the system is going down, and no further logins are allowed. Linux will close all open files, stop running processes, and restart the system.
  6. How to reboot a Mac system

    There are two main routes that can be taken when restarting a Mac computer. 

    Restart through the menu bar

    1. Click the Apple icon at the top left of the screen.

    2. In the drop down menu, click Restart.

    3. If you don’t want applications that are already open to reopen when your Mac reboots, uncheck the “Reopen windows when logging back in” box.

    Restart through keyboard

    1. Hold down Control + Command + power button until the screen darkens and the restart sound plays. This is the most reliable way to restart a Mac because it doesn’t rely on the Mac OS X operating system. 
  7. How to reboot computer manually

    If your computer’s operating system crashes, freezes, or displays a blue error screen (known as the blue screen of death), you won’t be able to navigate to the menu screen or use keys. Instead, you’ll have to manually or hard reboot your computer. 

    1. Hold down the power button for five seconds or until the computer’s power is off. The screen will go black and the computer’s fan and power supply will shut down. 

    2. Wait at least 30 seconds. This will prevent the power supply, motherboard, and other critical hardware from sustaining damage from powering on and off too quickly.

    3. Press the power button to reboot the computer. Once the computer powers up, note any error messages. This will help troubleshoot and identify the cause of the earlier failure. 

    Read next: Generations of Computers