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We’re all familiar with what the power button looks like, and what it’s supposed to do. What fewer people are familiar with is what the image on the button really means, and the different things that the power button can be used for.

The Meaning of the “Power” Symbol

The symbol used to mark the power button is simply an amalgamation of the typical symbols used for power on and power off—the “|” for on and “O” for off combined into a single icon.

That’s about it. Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

How the Power Button is Used

As has hopefully been drilled into your head by this point, the best time to use your power button is after you’ve saved your work and all computing processes have been halted. Even then, a better option is to use the operating systems’ shut down option.

Essentially, the only time it should be necessary to use the power button to turn off your device is if your device is no longer responding to either your keyboard or mouse. This is because abusing the power button can cause damage to your files, potentially corrupting them—particularly if any files or applications were open when you initiated the shutdown—and even preventing your computer from starting back up.

Of course, if your IT resource approves it, there are also ways to change what the power button does in the first place when you press it on a device running Windows.

Remapping the Power Button

The settings that the Control Panel makes accessible makes it simple to alter the power button’s function. Under Hardware and Sound, navigate to Power Options and select Choose what the power button does.

From there, you have assorted options. On a laptop, you can then select what happens either when you press the power button or when you close your device’s lid when it is plugged in or when it is running on stored battery power. Desktops naturally only allow you to change what the power button does. Your options to choose from include:

  • Do nothing
  • Sleep
  • Hibernate
  • Shut Down (only for when you press the power button on a laptop)
  • Turn off the display (only when you press the power button on a laptop)

Once you have made your selections, click on Save changes and your preferred settings will be applied.

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