How do I lock or log off my computer?

Windows 10 and other operating systems store all data on a PC based on the logged in user account. It is very common, in family and in public areas, for multiple users to use a single PC. Even one person can have multiple user accounts on a same PC for carrying out different tasks. Windows 10 will prompt you to enter username and password when you login to your computer for booting. After that instance, you can simply log out from one account and switch to another account without shutting down your computer.

Lock, Log off, and Switch Account

The difference between “locking” (Lock Workstation) and “logging out/signing out” (Logout) is what happens to your applications. Locking the computer means your apps are still ON and running. Logging/signing off will CLOSE all applications before signing out of the session. Disconnect Session (Switch User) also keeps your apps running. This means you can simply toggle accounts at any point of time and continue where you left after login in both user accounts.

Lock Workstation: This option will lock the computer but keep all the user’s programs running. It is similar to hitting the

Windows key + L key on Windows machines. This option is suitable when there is only a single user on the computer.

Disconnect Session (Switch User): This option will lock the computer and disconnect the current user’s session on Windows machines. This will allow another user to access their own account quickly after they authenticate using their own GateKeeper token. This method is similar to the “Switch User” option in Windows and macOS. This option is best when there are multiple users accessing the computer.

Logout: Sign out. This option will log out the currently connected user when their token goes out of range. This will close all running programs and ready the computer for the next user to log in.

7 Ways to Log Off or Sign Out from Windows 10 User Account

  1. From Start menu user account
  2. Using power menu
  3. Sign out from Command Prompt
  4. Use Ctrl + Alt + Del
  5. Shut down options from Alt + F4
  6. From Run Command
  7. Adding shortcut to desktop

1. Start Menu

Windows 10 has no sign-out or switch account option in the power button on the start menu. Microsoft simply removed this option and moved it under the user account button. Click on the “Start” button and then click on the logged-in user profile picture. You can choose to sign out or switch accounts from here.


When multiple users are logged in, then you can directly choose a different user account to switch the account without signing out from the account.

2. Power Menu

Press “Win + X” shortcut keys or simply right-click on the start button to open the power menu. Click on the “Shut down or sign out” option and choose “Sign out”. As you can see in the power menu, you will only have the option for signing out and no option for switching account is available.


3. Sign Out from Command Prompt

After pressing the “Win + X” keys, choose the “Windows PowerShell” option from the menu. Note, if you are not seeing PowerShell then you will see Command Prompt option. You can choose either Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell whatsoever showing in the menu. Enter the command “shutdown /l” and hit enter. Windows will sign out instantly and go back to the lock screen.


4. Ctrl + Alt + Del

This is the most popular shortcut to shut down your computer. Here you will have options to sign out or switch accounts between users.


5. Alt + F4

This is another popular shortcut to close applications in Windows. First, close all open applications and press “Alt + F4”. You will see the “Shut Down Windows” popup opens. Click on the dropdown and choose the “Sign Out” option.


6. Run Logoff Command

Press “Win + R” to open the “Run” dialog box. Type “logoff” and hit enter to sign out of your account. Windows 10 will sign out of your account instantly.

7. Adding Sign Out or Log Off Shortcut Menu

If you do not like any of the above-mentioned methods for signing out of your computer then there is a trick you can do to make the process simpler. Type “logoff” in the Windows or Cortana Search Box. You will see the first option as “Logoff” as Run Command which is the option explained in the previous step. Right-click on that and choose “Open file location”.


This will open the path “C:WindowsSystem32” where the “logoff.exe” file is stored on your computer. Right-click on the “logoff” file and choose “Send to > Desktop (create shortcut)”.


This will add a shortcut to your desktop for the logoff option. Simply double-click on the desktop shortcut to quickly sign out of your computer.


Lock with Win + L

Press “Win + L” to lock your computer. Here you will not find any sign-out option. However, if your objective is to switch the account to another user then click on “Other user” and login as a different user account.


There are many ways to sign out of your computer without hassle. Note, when you sign out or run the logoff command, Windows 10 will immediately start signing out without any notice. Though sometimes you will see a warning message showing there are open applications, it will not help you in saving the working documents. So in order to avoid loss of work, remember to save and close all your working documents and folders before signing out / logoff in any of the methods.

Best of luck!

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