Ask LH: How Can I Start And Shut Down My Computer Automatically Every Morning?

Dear Lifehacker, I like to turn my computer off at night, but I hate sitting and waiting for it to boot up in the morning. Is there any way I can make my computer start automatically in the morning so it's ready for me when I get up? Sincerely, Bored During Boot

Icon portion of photo by wordstofyre.

Dear Bored,

We know your pain. While many would recommend you just your computer on all day, we know that can drain unnecessary power, not to mention make a lot of noise. It's actually pretty easy to start up your computer each morning when you wake up, or each day when you come home from work. You can even set it to shut itself down at night, too. Here's how.

On Windows

To automatically start your computer up at a specific time of day, you'll actually need to edit your BIOS settings. To do this:

  • Boot up your computer and enter your BIOS setup. Usually this involves pressing the Delete key as your computer boots (your computer should say Press DEL to Enter Setup or something similar as you turn it on).
  • Navigate to the Power Options. If your BIOS supports it, there should be a function for automatically starting up your computer at a certain time of day. Mine was called "Resume by Alarm", but yours might be called something different.
  • Enable that setting and set the time you want your computer to start every day. Save and Exit the BIOS, and your computer should follow that schedule from now on.

You probably shut down your computer when you're done using it at the end of the day, but if not, you can set it to shut itself down on a schedule. This is easy to do with Windows Task Scheduler:

  1. Hit the Start menu and type in "task scheduler". Open up Task Scheduler from your results.
  2. In the right pane, hit Create Task. Give it a name, and under the General tab, check "Run with highest privileges". Also check "Run whether user is logged on or not", if you ever leave your computer logged out.
  3. Head to the Settings tab and check "Stop the task if it runs longer than" and set it to "1 hour". This won't stop your computer from sleeping, but will stop your computer from thinking a task is still running.
  4. Head to the Actions tab, hit New, and choose "Start a Program" as your action. Set the Program to shutdown and the arguments to -s.
  5. Lastly, head to the Triggers tab and click New. Change the schedule to fit whatever you want (say, Daily at 12:00AM), and hit OK. Hit OK again at the next window and your task should be saved in Task Scheduler.

That's it. Now your computer should shut down and wake up on your own schedule.

On a Mac

This process is much easier on a Mac than on Windows. To set it up on OS X:

  1. Open up System Preferences and click Energy Saver.
  2. In the bottom right corner, click the Schedule button.
  3. Check the box next to "Start up or wake" to schedule when your computer turns on and the checkbox beneath it to schedule when you computer goes to sleep, restarts or shuts down. You can set the schedules for specific days, every day, just weekdays or weekends only.
  4. Once you've made all your choices, click the OK button.

Note that if you're setting schedules on a Mac laptop, it will need to be connected to power for these schedules to function.

There are a number of different ways you could do this, too, like using previously mentioned WakeupOnStandby, but this is a nice low hassle method that doesn't require any extra software.

Cheers, Lifehacker


    "This process is much easier on a Mac than on Windows."

    All too familiar (c:

      You obviously haven't needed to fix your mac lately. That HDD in there is a $500 repair job waiting to happen.

      I guess you can throw it away when it needs repair and buy the next model. Yep that's easy.

    Is there a way to make that only happen on weekdays.

    If you have intalled DD-WRT on your router you can get it to send a WOL packet to your computer at a predetermined time.

    Check out the DD-WRT Wiki for more info.

    Coming from years of waiting for PCs to boot, I don't mind waiting the 35 seconds my Win7 machine takes to boot, feels like a lifetime faster than my old Win 95 machine! But in saying that, I have my home PC turn on everyday using the BIOS settings so I can remote into it during the day for various reasons.

    I hibernate my WinXP machine instead of shutting down (and use the BootSnooze program to reboot before hibernating as appropriate), then use PCAutoWake on my Android phone to wake it from anywhere in my WiFi range.

    This way I can start up the PC when I get up if I want it on, or when I get home, but not have it on when I'm not planning to use it.

    Turn off a mac? Sorry, this sentence is confusing - few reasons to ever turn it off!

    I will have to check this "Resume by alarm" function. Would be good to have my PC turned on and ready for when I get home in the evening.

    Windows 7 awakes from 'sleep' and is usable in about 2 seconds.

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