My laptop froze. How do I turn it off?

yelling formal man watching news on laptop
Power play: turn off a troubled laptop (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

If you’re reading this, probably on a phone, then don’t think that your hours of research to find the perfect PC was a waste of time. Laptops freeze, it’s just part of what they do. Usually, you’ll never find the cause and a quick reset will have it running again. However, if your laptop froze and you don’t know what to do, then I’ve got a couple of ways to turn it off.

Press and hold the power button

This is often the easiest and quickest solution, but believe me when I say that many laptop owners don’t know about it. Here’s the official Big Tech Question 3-step solution:

  1. Extend an index finger
  2. Press and hold down the power button on the laptop
  3. Wait… longer… bit more… there, it’s gone off

I see computer owners get this wrong all the time. The usual scenario is that when the laptop froze, they dabbed the button for a second and nothing exciting happened. The trick is to hold the button for between 5 to 20 seconds.

If your machine has a spinny drive, you’ll hear a click, otherwise look for lights going out or the screen turning off. Give it half a moment then switch the laptop back on. Don’t panic when this boot cycle takes an age, Windows is very confused at this point and is trying to piece together what happened. One minute it was laughing and joking in a bar and now it’s woken up in a bus shelter wearing someone else’s shoes. If the button trick didn’t work for you, then we have a few more solutions.

Easy ways to disconnect a laptop battery

So, your laptop froze, and our power button trick isn’t working, what do you do now? The first thing to do is try the button trick again, just in case. If you’re certain that’s doing nothing, then we need to pull the battery.

image showing battery disconnection hole on a laptop

Flip your laptop over, and look for a small hole like the one in the image. Inserting something extremely slim like a pin, SIM ejector or earring into the hole will press a microswitch inside the machine, disconnecting the battery. Not all laptop manufacturers install the microswitch as they’re cheapskate skinflints, a mechanism to help out their deserving clients. If there isn’t a hole on the underside of your machine then please write to the manufacturer’s head office to complain loudly before moving on to our next suggestion.

If you do manage to activate the microswitch, it should either reboot immediately, or you may have to press the regular power button as normal. 

Not so easy ways to disconnect a laptop battery

stop sign
Photo by Mwabonje Ringa on

Warning: Pulling a battery from a live machine isn’t something we’d normally recommend, but if your laptop froze, it may be the quickest way to turn it off (did you try the button trick again?). Ensure that the laptop’s DC mains adapter is disconnected from the laptop and that you’re in the dry, safe environment, not kneeling in a ditch, sheltering from a storm.

image showing underside of laptop with battery removed

If your laptop is a few years old, then it may have an external battery, so flip the machine over and release the clips. The battery will pop out, powering off the laptop. At this point, I’d power up the laptop using the mains lead and see how it behaves. If it’s still messing around, then it’ll be easier to remove the power this time.

image showing underside of laptop with internal battery removed

If the laptop is a recent model, then the battery will be internal, so grab a small Philips screwdriver and a tea towel. Lay the towel out on your working area and invert the laptop onto it (it’s only there is prevent scratches to the laptop). Remove the screws from the bottom of the machine, and the bottom plate should come loose. If you have a guitar pick or something like a supermarket loyalty card, you can use that to ease the separation. The battery will connect to the motherboard directly or with a short cable. Disconnect the battery from the motherboard and the machine will turn off.

PCs freeze all the time and it’s normally nothing to be too concerned about, but if your laptop froze, and continues to do it after you removed and restored the power, then seek the advice of your local, neighbourhood friendly computer repair shop.

About the author

Lee Grant

I can normally be found attacking things with screwdrivers in my small computer repair business or writing a column for PC Pro magazine.

I am also trying to solve a mystery involving David Bowie.

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