Options for a separate power menu

Smart fixes for your PC hassles

The Windows 8.1 Update goes public starting Tuesday, promising all kinds of new features for traditional PC users. One thing it won’t bring is the new Start menu that Microsoft recently debuted—that’s due in a later update in the coming months.

But Windows 8.1 already has a Start menu of sorts buried under a right-click on the Start button in the lower left corner. Commonly known as the power user menu, this menu is a popular option to quickly shut down a PC since it’s much simpler than clicking on the Settings charm.

There’s more to the power user menu than just turning off your computer, however. Here are three features from the power user menu that every Windows 8.1 user should know about.

Deleting programs

You’ll find the Programs and Features option right at the top of the menu. (Click to enlarge.)

At the top of the menu is an option called Programs and Features, which gives you direct access to the Control Panel option for uninstalling programs.

Keep in mind the Control Panel uninstall option only works for desktop apps. If you want to uninstall a modern UI app you have to visit the Start screen or all apps screen, right-click the app, and select Uninstall.

Managing tasks

The traditional way to get to the Task Manager is to tap Ctrl+Alt+Delete. Over the years, however, Microsoft has changed this option from a keyboard shortcut to a full-blown menu with other options such as shutting down and locking your PC.

So a slightly quicker route to the Task Manager is to access it under the power user menu. From there you can quickly see which app is hogging all your processor power or shut down a non-responsive app.

Control Panel

The Task Manager and the Control Panel options are bunched together closer to the middle. (Click to enlarge.)

Right below the Task Manager is an option to open the Control Panel. It feels like there are a thousand ways to open the Control Panel in Windows 8.1 including through the Settings charm, the desktop view in File Explorer, and the all apps screen.

As far as I’m concerned, however, the fastest and easiest way to get there is to right-click on the Start button (or tap the Windows logo key + “X” if you want to get really fancy).

The only thing faster would be to pin the Control Panel to the taskbar.

After you’re used to accessing these three options in the power user menu there are tons of other options you might find useful including power settings, system information, network connections, and the Windows PowerShell, to name just a few.

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Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn’t like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he’s not covering the news he’s working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.


You could use a OnTabChangeListener to get a callback, when the user changed to another tab. Based on the tab ID, you can manipulate the options menu.

Call invalidateOptionsMenu() when you need to alter the menu. Then, onCreateOptionsMenu() will be called. You can then inflate another menu.xml. Alternatively, you could also wait for the subsequent call to onPrepareOptionsMenu() and toggle the visibility of single menu items via setVisible().

Example: (haven’t tested it, but it should work more or less)

private static final String TAB_1 = "tab1"; private static final String TAB_2 = "tab2";  private TabHost mTabHost;  private final TabHost.OnTabChangeListener onTabChangedListener = new TabHost.OnTabChangeListener {     public void onTabChanged(String tabId){         invalidateOptionsMenu();     } };  public void onCreate(Bundle b){     TabHost mTabHost = (TabHost) findViewById (R.id.tabHost);     // ...     mTabHost.setOnTabChangedListener(onTabChangedListener);     mTabHost.setCurrentTabByTag(TAB_1); }  public boolean onCreateOptionsMenu(Menu menu){     final String currentTab = mTabHost.getCurrentTabTag();      if(TAB_1.equals(currentTab)){         getMenuInflater().inflate(R.menu.main_tab1.xml, menu);     } else if(TAB_2.equals(currentTab)){         getMenuInflater().inflate(R.menu.main_tab2.xml, menu);     } } 


We have seen many ways to shut down and restart Windows 8 in our previous posts, like 10 different ways to do Shutdown, Restart Windows 8 or PowerShell Scripts to create Windows Shutdown, Restart Tiles on Start Screen. Now in today’s post, we will see how to add Shutdown, Restart options to WinX Power User Menu in Windows 10/8.

UPDATE: Windows 10/8.1 users can now Shutdown, Restart, Sleep, Hibernate Windows using the WinX Power Menu.

The Power User menu is also called as WinX menu or Win+X menu or Windows Tools menu. It pops up by when you press WinKey+X shortcut or when you right-click in the bottom-left corner in Windows 10/8. You can add any shortcut you frequently use to the Power User menu, but we will focus in this post on learning how to add Shutdown and Restart option. The same method can be used for adding other applications shortcuts too. Since adding shortcuts to Power User Menu is not a routine procedure, so we will try to understand a bit more.

Please create a restore point before trying – just in case something goes wrong.

Power User Menu or WinX Menu

If you see the Power User Menu closely, it has 3 groups of tools separated by a Separator. Their shortcuts are actually stored in folders. We will see where it is. But first, ensure that you can view the Hidden files in Windows Explorer (or File Explorer as it’s called in Windows 8). From File Explorer, click the View tab from the toolbar and check the ‘Hidden items’ checkbox.

Now in File Explorer, go to  C:UsersUser NameAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsWinX , where is your account name.

Or you can just copy %LOCALAPPDATA%MicrosoftWindowsWinX in File Explorer address bar and press Enter to go directly to the WinX Folder.

You will be able to see that it has three subfolders Group1, Group2, and Group3. And if we see contents of each Group:

Group 1 has:

Group 2 has:

And Group 3 has:

You can make out the Power User menu shortcut and the corresponding items in the respective groups.  So looking at Power User menu, you’ll notice that these groups correspond to these three groups separated by a separator. The entries on the menu are run by clicking shortcuts (.lnk) files present in each Group folder.

You can arrange these shortcuts by moving them from one group to the other. You can also create new group naming it as  Group 4 and move some of these shortcuts.

Add Shutdown, Restart options to WinX Menu

Now note one thing, if you think you can place shortcuts to Shutdown and Restart in a new group, you cannot just do it. You can’t add new shortcuts or manipulate the existing ones. I think Microsoft doesn’t want the user to meddle with this menu, overcrowding it with shortcuts or users trying to make it another kind of Start Menu, which is absent in Windows 10/8. Even if you add a shortcut to a new group, they won’t simply show. Microsoft adds only approved shortcuts. It uses some hashing algorithm to approve. For this approval, one can hack some related core system files, but it’s not a good idea. So Rafael Rivera of Within Windows blog has created a tool which marks the shortcut as approved.

You can download the Hashlnk tool from here.

Now we will start the steps to create Shortcuts for Shutdown and Restart. For this, we will use the Shutdown.exe, Windows Shutdown and Annotation Tool present in C:WindowsSystem32 directory. Right-click on Shutdown.exe and click on Create shortcut.

Windows will ask to place the shortcut on the desktop, say Yes.

Now from the Desktop, right-click the shortcut and select Properties to open the Properties window. Modify the Target by adding ‘ /s /t 0 ‘ at the end as shown. Rename the Shortcut as Shutdown.

Similarly, create another shortcut of Shortcut.exe file and modify in Target by adding  ‘ /r /t 0 ‘ in the end as shown below and rename the shortcut as Restart.

Actually, we have modified the parameters according to various options of the Shutdown command. You can view them at the command prompt by issuing Shutdown /? .

Now we have both the shortcuts ready – for Shutdown and Restart. These shortcuts will have .lnk file extension. Now we will use the Hashlnk tool to get these shortcuts approved. So move these shortcuts to the folder containing the unzipped Hashlnk tool.

Now from the folder press Shift and right-click this folder to get the option ‘Open command Window here’ to get the command prompt in that folder

Now issue the command hashlnk shortcutname.lnk  (Replace shortcutname with whatever is the name of the shortcut, here we have Shutdown.lnk and Restart.lnk). If all goes well, you’ll see the message as shown below

Now move these shortcuts to %LOCALAPPDATA%MicrosoftWindowsWinX  after creating a new folder Group 4 there. So now you have a new folder Group 4 along with Group 1,2 and 3. Group 4 contains our created and approved shortcuts for Shutdown and Restart.

If you view the WinX menu now, these new shortcuts won’t be shown. You will have to restart your PC for them to appear. After restarting you can see the contents of our created Group 4 and its shortcuts – Shutdown and Restart  (Tip: Instead of restarting your PC, you can open Task Manager, Right click on Windows Explorer process and click on Restart).

You will now  And now you can Shutdown, Restart Windows 8 using these shortcuts in Power User menu.

Add any shortcuts to WinKey+X Power User Menu

And that’s how you can add more options to WinX power User Menu. You can add your frequently used apps shortcuts too in this way.

But for those who do not want to try this manual method, they have a ready tool Win+X Menu Editor which does all this & more. We had mentioned about this in our earlier post – Customization Freeware for Windows. But now it provides Shutdown options as well. You can download Win+X Menu Editor for Windows 8 from here. This provides Shutdown options as a preset apart from many other options related to Win+X menu.

Try them creating your shortcuts in Win+X Power user menu manually or by using the freeware. As mentioned earlier be careful and create a system restore point first before you start tweaking.


By K. T. Bradford | July 5, 2010 09:00 am

By default, all Windows 7 (and Vista) notebooks come with three power plans: High Performance, Balanced, and Power Saver. Some manufacturers, such as HP, Samsung, and Toshiba, include custom power profiles, and may provide proprietary programs for controlling them. Nevertheless, administrator-level users can always tweak a power profile for better performance or more battery life.

The path to the advanced power settings is a twisty one: Control Panel > Power Options > Change Plan Settings > Change Advanced Power Settings. Once you’ve reached the center of this labyrinth, you’re faced with a list of options that would have daunted mighty Theseus himself. Many are intuitive and easy to understand, though it’s not always clear how changing them will impact performance.

To help you out, we’ve put together this in-depth guide to Windows’ Advanced Power Options and included descriptions, tips and recommendations for all of the default options on Windows 7 and most Vista systems. The majority of these menus offer separate settings for whether you’re drawing power from the battery or while you’re plugged in. Depending on the manufacturer and your hardware (hard drive vs. solid state drive), your notebook may include settings not listed here. Understanding the defaults will make it easier to tweak any others you come across.

Hard Disk: Turn Off Hard Disk After

Spinning the hard disk doesn’t consume a lot of juice. Plus, the power saved by turning off the drive varies depending on the manufacturer. For extreme battery savings, set the idle/turn off time to 10 or 20 minutes. Keep in mind that this time limit should be shorter than that set for putting the machine to sleep; otherwise, you’ll see no change in battery life.

Desktop Background Settings: Slide Show

Windows 7 allows users to set multiple background images that change after a user-defined interval. On battery power, set the slideshow to Paused instead of Available if you want to get the most out of your battery. The power drain might not be much, but you’ll miss that extra juice once you’re down to 10 percent.

Wireless Adapter Settings: Power Saving Mode

Here you’ll find four choices: Maximum Performance, Low Power Saving, Medium Power Saving, and Maximum Power Saving. The amount of power you’ll conserve with these settings varies by wireless card manufacturer. Performance generally goes down the higher the savings, meaning Maximum Power Saving mode could cause wireless downloads to take longer than usual. If you need a speedy Internet connection, set this to Maximum Performance or Low Power Saving, and then turn your Wi-Fi antenna off when you don’t need it.

Advanced Power Options Explained

Page 1: Hard Disk, Desktop Background Settings, and Wireless Adapter Settings

Page 2: Sleep and Hibernation Settings

Page 3: USB Settings and Processor Power Management

Page 4: Display and Multimedia Settings

Page 5: Battery Settings


  • Sleep After. Allows users to save battery life or energy by putting a notebook in a low-power state after a set amount of time. Waking from sleep should only take about a second, opening right where you left off. The amount of power a notebook uses while sleeping depends on several factors, including the manufacturer. The draw can be as little as 5 to 15 watts.
  • Allow Hybrid Sleep. This is a function more useful in desktops than in notebooks, because it’s designed to protect a session from sudden power loss. Hybrid sleep works by writing a hibernation file when your computer enters a sleep state, allowing for a fast wake time. If you lose power completely and suddenly, which is less likely with a laptop, the system uses the stored file to wake from hibernation, restoring your system’s state. Enabling it won’t impact your notebook negatively, though it will take up some hard drive space.
  • Hibernate. Saves power by creating a hibernation file on the hard disk and shutting the computer down. The power draw here is extremely low, with many notebooks able to last for weeks without being plugged in. However, waking from hibernation takes longer than sleep—sometimes as long as it takes for your notebook to boot. As with sleep, the user’s session is saved and ready to go. For moderate battery savings, use hibernation if you won’t need your laptop for two hours or more. For extreme savings, hibernate after 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Allow Wake Timers. Applications or utilities programmed to run or perform tasks at specific times—such as Windows Update—can wake a notebook from sleep if Wake Timers are allowed. When running unplugged, disable this function to keep your notebook from draining battery life.
Advanced Power Options Explained

Page 1: Hard Disk, Desktop Background Settings, and Wireless Adapter Settings

Page 2: Sleep and Hibernation Settings

Page 3: USB Settings and Processor Power Management

Page 4: Display and Multimedia Settings

Page 5: Battery Settings

USB Settings: USB Selective Suspend Setting

Most USB devices don’t need to draw power the entire time they’re plugged in. With this setting enabled, the drivers controlling the ports that know which peripherals and devices aren’t needed can shut each one off individually to conserve battery power. The amount saved depends on what you have plugged into the ports.

Processor Power Management: Minimum Processor State vs. Maximum Processor State

Windows includes device driver support that allows a notebook to determine the optimal power performance state depending on the tasks it’s running. By setting the minimum processor state, you allow for a range of usage that can save on battery life if the computer isn’t engaged in taxing activities such as playing video or soaring over Google Earth. Even at the default setting—5 percent—your notebook won’t slow the processor if you need the juice. You can set a lower maximum processor state to glean more battery life from your system.

Advanced Power Options Explained

Page 1: Hard Disk, Desktop Background Settings, and Wireless Adapter Settings

Page 2: Sleep and Hibernation Settings

Page 3: USB Settings and Processor Power Management

Page 4: Display and Multimedia Settings

Page 5: Battery Settings


  • Dim Display After vs. Turn Off Display After. For maximum battery life conservation, consider skipping the Dim setting and set the screen to turn off completely after 10 minutes. It should take less than a second to bring it back when you’re ready to use your notebook.
  • Display Brightness. The backlight in a notebook’s LCD is the biggest power hog of any component. Experienced road warriors know to turn the brightness down to make a battery last longer, but how low is low enough? When we perform the LAPTOP Battery Test to determine a notebook’s longevity, we set brightness at 40 percent, which is a good balance between conservation and visibility. Depending on the model, a screen may be legible at as low as 20 percent. Play around with the settings to find a comfortable brightness, then set it as the default.
  • Dimmed Display Brightness. Determines how far down to take the brightness if you use the Dim Display After setting. We recommend skipping this setting.

Multimedia Settings

  • When Sharing Media. When your notebook is sharing music, video, or other media via a program such as Windows Media Center, Windows doesn’t automatically count the streaming as activity if you aren’t actually using the laptop, and may read it as being idle. When plugged in, set the notebook to Prevent idling to sleep to keep the stream going. To save a little energy, choose Allow the computer to enter Away mode, which makes a notebook appear to be sleeping even though it’s not. As this is not a true sleep state, and won’t conserve much energy, don’t choose this setting when running on the battery. Instead, choose Allow the computer to sleep.
  • When Playing Video: Optimize Video Quality, Balanced, and Optimize Power Savings. Balanced is a good choice if you need your notebook to keep you entertained on a long commute. When plugged in, you’ll want the best video quality unless you’re trying to conserve watts. Should you need to watch video but also save battery life just as badly, choose Optimize Power Savings.
Advanced Power Options Explained

Page 1: Hard Disk, Desktop Background Settings, and Wireless Adapter Settings

Page 2: Sleep and Hibernation Settings

Page 3: USB Settings and Processor Power Management

Page 4: Display and Multimedia Settings

Page 5: Battery Settings


Confused about how to rank low, critical, and reserve battery? You’re not alone. Oddly, these settings aren’t arranged in priority order within the Power Options menu. The correct order is: Low Battery, Reserve Battery, Critical Battery. Whatever percentage you give the Low setting, it must be higher than Reserve, which must be higher than Critical.

  • Critical Battery Action offers options for Do Nothing, Sleep, Hibernate, and Shut Down. Unless you’re running a battery test, we don’t suggest utilizing the Do Nothing setting; Sleep or Hibernate will save your work. Shut Down is pretty extreme, particularly if you’ll be near an outlet within a day or so.
  • The Low Battery Level default of 11 to 15 percent is a good idea because it provides ample warning of an impending shut down without leaving you so little battery that you can’t finish what you’re doing.
  • Critical Battery Level can be set to as little as 3 percent, but remember you will need some power for the Hibernate setting and even more for Sleep. Staying at the default 5 percent will let you get the most out of your battery while retaining enough juice for Hibernation. Enter 10 percent if you set the Critical Battery action for Sleep.
  • Low Battery Notification causes your notebook to display a pop-up warning when your battery is running low, alerting you when it hits the percentage you set in the Low Battery Level option.
  • Low Battery Action offers options to Do nothing, Sleep, Hibernate, and Shut Down. If set to Sleep or Hibernate, a notebook will perform this action shortly after the notification. Users can turn the notebook back on to finish a task, but we recommend setting this to Do Nothing to give you time to prepare for the battery’s inevitable death, or to find the power cord.
  • Reserve Battery Level is the percentage of battery left at which point your notebook will flash a warning, whether the low battery notification is on or off. If you’ve ignored the previous warning, 7 percent here will at least give you a few minutes to shut down before being cut off in the middle of a task.
Advanced Power Options Explained

Page 1: Hard Disk, Desktop Background Settings, and Wireless Adapter Settings

Page 2: Sleep and Hibernation Settings

Page 3: USB Settings and Processor Power Management

Page 4: Display and Multimedia Settings

Page 5: Battery Settings


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