Turning computers on and off


Close lesson
You have completed 0%

Turning computers on and off

a close up of a power switch on a computer

What's coming up

If you're doing this course in a centre, one of your tutors will probably have turned the computer on for you, but how did they do this?

In this activity, you will find out about turning a computer on and off correctly and safely.

Start activity

Power on

All computers and laptops have a power button that you press to turn them on, and they are often marked with the same symbol.

Look at your computer and see if you can find a button that looks like this.

Although the exact location varies, you will usually find it on the front of the computer case on a desktop computer, or at the top of the keyboard on a laptop.

a typical power switch for a computer or screen
an example of an Apple and a Windows start up animation

When you start your computer, it will take some time before you can use it. This is because the computer needs time to start up.

During the start up process, there is usually a small animation, such as a spinning circle, where the cursor is. When the animation stops, you can start to use the computer.

If you have other devices attached to your computer, you may want to turn these on as well – for example, your monitor, printer and speakers.

The on/off button on your monitor and printer will look like the power button for the computer. However, depending on the design of the speakers, the on/off button on your speakers may be a dial that you turn.

three icons for speakers, printer or screen
a computer monitor showing a log in message

You often have to enter a username and password after you switch your computer on – this is called logging in.

This is useful when several people use the same computer, and it makes sure that only you can access your information.


eSafety Tip

For your computer password, think of one that doesn't include any personal information such as your name or date of birth.

Power off

Shut down

It is important to shut down the computer properly. This protects your hard drive and possibly your files from damage. The shut down process could be different, depending on the type of computer you are using.

You should always make sure to close any open programs (such as Word or Internet Explorer) before turning off your computer.

a close up of the power off symbol on a Windows computer
a close up of the log off menu option on a Windows computer

Log off

You also have the option of logging off, which makes sure that no one else can see your work. This closes any open programs but doesn't shut down the computer.

This is a good option if you're taking a short break from your computer. It saves you from having to restart the computer all over again. When you get back to the computer you will need to log in again.


Some computers also have a sleep mode, also called standby mode.

Sleep is a power saving mode that allows a computer to start again quickly when you want to start working again. Putting your computer in sleep mode is like pausing a DVD player - the computer immediately stops what it's doing and is ready to start again when you want to continue working.

a close up of the sleep menu option on a Windows computer
a close up of the hibernate menu option on a Windows computer


While sleep saves your work and settings into the memory and continues to use a small amount of power, hibernate saves your open documents and programs onto your hard drive and then turns off your computer.

Hibernate uses less power than sleep, but the computer doesn't restart as quickly.

Try it yourself

Now you can practise shutting down a computer.

On the next slide is a practice that includes some steps to try yourself. Select the Continue button below to begin and then follow the instructions on the right-hand side of the screen.

Try it yourself

Try it yourself

This is a video exercise that allows learners to practise shutting down a comoputer.

This exercise has no sound track.

To successfully complete the exercise, you need to click on the Windows icon on a desktop in the bottom left corner, then proceed to click on the power button and then the option for shut down.

This exercise is used to encourage confidence using the internet by practising a simple exercise in a simulated environment. If a mistake is made, there will be a prompt to ask you to try it again. If another mistake is made, the video will show you how to complete that section of the exercise.

Well done!

You've now come to the end of the Turning computers on and off activity.

In this activity, we found that computers and laptops use the same power button symbol, that you have to wait for your computer to start up before you can use it, and you use the Windows button to turn your computer off.

In the next activity, Changing computer settings, you'll find out how you can personalise your computer to suit your preferences.

a close up of someone about to press the power button on a laptop