Windows 8 / Server 2012 Tip of the Day: Logging Off (and Switching User)

I don't know why, but I keep forgetting how to log off of Windows 8 / Server 2012 systems.  To do so, go to the Start "screen", click on your user account picture/name in the upper-right hand corner of the screen, and select "Sign out".  Or you can select "Switch User" from here.


Comments (106)

  1. Jenda says:

    Don't worry. I just spent about ten minutes looking high an low and not seeing anything. The imbecile that designed the new UI should really … spend some quality time in hell.

    I guess I should not have made the virtual server Win Server 2012.

  2. dom says:

    Well it’s a new gui that isn’t very intuitive and dissimilar from anything prior. Just downloaded 2012 server eval & installed as a vm over MS-Hyper V. Basically just kicking the tires; not sure where MS is going with the gui redesign or what the purpose of the change is. If you look long enough, you will find the things needed to manage the system at least from a base server admin perspective. Bottom line is; if you are looking to limit unnecessary service activity for reasons of security, performance etc. install core. Otherwise everything seems to be the same with a different wrapper….The paradigm shift is only in the eye of the beholder!

  3. Terry says:

    Windows 8/Server 2012 GUI is garbage. There should be 2 versions of this OS, mobile and non-mobile. Keep wanting to touch my non-touchscreen monitor…

    I like the OS, but the UI is annoying and not very "flow oriented".

  4. IT-DB says:

    Just trying out Win Server 2012 and I actually had to google "how to log out windows server 2012", imagine that… or you can open Server manager -> Local Server -> Tasks -> Shut down (then change to Logout instead of shutdown)… haha

  5. Martin says:

    I too had to Google "How to logout of a Windows 2012 server"


  6. James says:

    I also just searched for How to switch users in Server 2012, thank god for this tip.  Now it is annoying when everything takes long to load and you are looking at the new Windows 8 Fullscreen logo for 10 seconds and you want to close it out.

  7. Stefan says:

    What I do: Click on Power Shell icon, type "logoff"

  8. Randy says:

    must learn Powershell … must learn Powershell …..

  9. David says:

    What a Pain…no wonder nobody I know likes it.

  10. Brian says:

    I hope this UI goes the way of Windows ME.  Nice OS, horrible UI.  I don't know anyone that likes it outside of a mobile device.  I have a mouse, I run in a vm.  Some of the hot spots on the screen are nearly impossible to get to running multiple monitors.  Do you guys test any real world scenarios?

  11. GB says:

    Confirmed. UI is horribad.

    Why Microsoft WHY !!!

  12. JL says:

    I had to google this also. Actually I typed accidently typed googlecom in the address bar and was taken to bing, I then immediately retyped into the address bar then googled, "how do you log off windows server 2012" Shameful. I really like some of the features of server 2012, and I'm really glad it boots to the desktop but the whole start screen is absolute crap.

    Randy, I second that! "must learn Powershell" I guess you have to start using it to learn it :(. I will probably install server core and go from there.

  13. KCRyan318 says:

    Great tip Randy! PowerShell 'logoff' is much, much easier. I'm running several VMs in Hyper-V so have a similar situation as Brian with the multiple monitors. Wish there was a 'classic' option to switch the UI back to 2008.

  14. dxb says:

    Create "log me off.bat" on your desktop, edit it and write " shutdown /l ".

    double click it to logoff.

  15. orest says:

    new GUI is real crap

    I'm using it for a couple of months and cannot put up with it

    where is the button to vote for ? )

  16. pete says:

    This new ui is really HORRIBLE when you have more then one 2012-Server to jump though..

    so I like the "Address"-Toolbar in the Taskpane and just enter there a

    shutdown /l

    but be carefull not to use shutdown /s /f 😉

  17. pablo says:

    I'm not sure why Microsoft decided to put this UI on an server operating system, I mean who has a touch screen in a datacenter, in fact these days who physically accesses their servers? My god have you ever tried using Windows 8 remote desktop app to remote to a Win 2012? The start menus overlap each other so you want to access 2012 start menu but your windows 8 menu pops in front of it! Useless!

    I'm sorry but a server is a server, the UI should be functional and the less chance I have of some sausage fingered clown pressing a touchscreen on a mission critical server the better. What were they thinking?

  18. alan says:

    To log off Server 2012 on the Start menu GUI, click on your name at the top right corner of the screen then click on "Sign Out".  Took me forever to figure out.

  19. Barry says:

    Why, oh why, did Microsoft make simple things difficult? I manage my servers with remote desktop. In Win2012 it's easier to shutdown than logout. Omg, ouch, yer killin me!

  20. Randi says:

    I second you guys! But another way to log off (sign out) (also in VM + remote desktop mode):

    Be sure to be on the desktop and click "alt f4". Possibilities are endless here – you can Disconnect, Signout, Shut down and Restart

    😀 Weeeeeee!

    1. Adelo says:

      Awesome tip…..thx!

  21. Ken says:

    The tip at the beginning of this article is great.  But it's so hard to launch the start menu in RDP – The more I use 8/2012 the more I hate it.  What were they thinking????

  22. 2 hours tryig to logoff. says:

    how do I find this "smart menu gui" you keep mentioning?

  23. I feel technically retarded says:

    I feel technically retarded seriously 🙂 I asked my IT guys to tell me how to "Start" and open SQL Server ,he told me click on "Start" and then start typing anywhere LOL … and then when I wanted to "Log Off" .. I did "Start" ,typed "Log Off" and was hoping I will get the log off showing somewhere 🙂 🙂  

  24. kotozafy says:

    A spent a few days to find how to log off from the console. But to log off a remote desktop session I found nothing except "Disconnect" which does NOT end running applications. When you type logoff in the search box, it finds no results. But when you type logoff from a command prompt if does log you off! Where is the logic in all that ?

  25. superman says:

    The same Feeling here, soon I will start moving to another OS.

    Microsoft sucks tons of money for such a f…… work ??? who/from where/what Vision/have the Designers of the GUI, send them a gift "a pistol" ).

  26. System Admin says:

    Found this blog, desperately googling to find a way to logoff a 2012 server. Thanks to all the contributors.

    Thanks for nothing, Microsoft.

  27. MPW says:

    In a RD session…

    Ctrl-Alt-End – Logoff

  28. Melvin says:

    Ctrl+Alt+Delete – Brings up log off screen Windows Server 2012 RC2 for standard users.

  29. Andrew says:

    They call Win8/2012 the next Vista… I disagree. With a UI like this, I'll take Vista any day!

  30. Mark says:

    Not like they care what we think, but this UI is as frustrating to use as it is horrible to look at.

  31. marijana says:

    What idiots those at Microsoft…. what idiotic UI!

  32. Shage1966 says:

    Fire the *** that can't leave well-enough alone.

  33. turbo says:

    what was wrong with  the round Start button that MS have to reinvent the wheel by removing it ??? If I want to touch my screen I would get an Ipad ….uuggghhh stupid MS..

  34. Raj says:

    click on the powershell shortcut at the bottom and type logoff…….easy…….

  35. Miles says:

    A colossal blunder on Microsoft's part.  What a stupid interface.  This may be the crack in the armor that another company will find incentive to build a better operating system.

  36. LJ says:

    this is ridiculous – a simple task has to be a complicated mystery –

  37. Nerd says:

    What a lot of whingers.

    Please, all of you who own an iPhone, go toss it in the bin, after all it doesn't have a start button so you must all be terribly lost….

    Honestly, it's scary that some of obviously untrained hacks are well out of your league, and it's even scarier that some of you are tasked with managing your businesses information.

    I wouldn't put anyone in charge of my tea pot, let alone data, who doesnt understand basic computing tasks that dont come in the form of a pretty icon with an obvious description.

  38. Abby Normal says:

    This should be a lawsuit looking for a court room.  It must have been written by that same written by that same group of nit-wits that wrote the web site for Obama care.

  39. SCADA Dude says:

    Holy Sh!t.  I don't think they could have made it more obscure.

  40. Joe says:

    It's very frustrating, but probably Ctrl-Alt-End is the easiest way.

    Logoff or shutdown /l from command prompt not too bad, but overall, I hope that the current interface redesign disappears altogether within a couple of years. Not had such a low point since OS/2 Lan Manager….

  41. Andrew says:

    You must like to be different haha. Thousands of people hate 2008/2012 UI. Its about convenience. New UI =/= convenience.

  42. Santiago says:

    the endless frustration…. just googled how to log of windows server 2012.

  43. Dave says:

    Me too. I am here because of google too. What a steaming pile of mega-toss the UI is.

  44. rpb says:

    Got here via Google as well after selecting Disconnect from the Power button a few times thinking I was logging out because there was no Logout option there.  I was using Remote Desktop so I used the Ctrl+Alt+End option, which I didn't know before.

    My major gripe with the new UI is that it is not at all intuitive or discoverable.  The charms bar eluded me for ages, but now on my laptop it keeps popping up all the time when I don't need it as I move on the trackpad.  Every time I go to the top left tab in Chrome that "Other Windows" thing keeps appearing.  The Metro UI really does seem like it was designed by someone who didn't use a PC.

  45. g00gler1b1 says:

    Well, why complecating sign off????????????

    Anyways: the old style

    press on  ALT  +  F4 then when prompted select sign off and OK.

    Best of Luck!

  46. Brian says:

    Also had to Google "windows server 2012 how to log off". Can't stand the new GUI in Windows 8 or Server 2012, even restoring the Start button in 8.1/Server 2012 R2 doesn't solve anything. Don't know what was wrong with the Start Menu, its what sold me on Windows 15 years ago and it's still the most effective navigation solution I've seen. In total seriousness, did Microsoft even do ANY usability testing??

  47. AxL says:


    Guys Guys … agree that the new GUI suxxx for some details like that …


    >>>>To log off Server 2012 on the Start menu GUI,

    1)click on your name at the top right corner of the screen

    2) then click on "Sign Out".  Took me forever to figure out.

  48. surya says:

    g00gler1b1 method that is to use Alt + F4 and then to choose log off option is the best one

  49. haveblue says:

    I have just started using 2012.  Microsoft has lose their damn minds!  Did they test the UI outside of their own private world?

  50. BoroJonesy says:

    Found this after 6 months of pure frustration and swearing trying to activate the hot spots to sign out of Windows 2012 Server. Could take anything up to a minute and ten attempts before it worked long enough to click sign out.

    And we used to have Start button (worked first click) + Log off.

    How ludicrous to change something that's always worked for something infuriating, confusing and basically pointless.

    Hate the UI with a passion, I refuse to upgrade my own workstations to 8 or 2012

  51. LJ says:

    The easiest way to logoff is to open powersheel and type "logoff".

  52. Two Words says:

    Classic Shell

    I've resorted to using Classic Shell, even on my servers. I don't have time to learn something stupid to replace something I already knew how to do well. Good Lord M$ pull your head out and listen to your users.

  53. Takuu says:

    No need for opening a PowerShell window – especially if you use large $profile.

    1. Hover to the upper right and get the Windows button there or through RDP use ALT+Home (other terminal applications might have it configured to accept Windows key)

    2. Type 'logoff' and press enter.


    1. Through RDP use ALT+CTRL+END  (other terminal applications might have it configured to accept Windows key)

    2. Click signout.


    1. Hover to the upper right and get the Windows button there or through RDP use ALT+Home (other terminal applications might have it configured to accept Windows key)

    2. Right-click your picture in top-right.

    3. Click signout.


    Remote PowerShell and never deal with GUI.

  54. kidsysco says:

    Worst place to put these controls ever. Hard to believe such poor decisions being made. Makes me furious when I cannot find how to log off the dang machine. FURIOUS!

  55. annoyed says:

    googled it too..

  56. rob k says:

    horrible and even worse when running remote desktop

    i hope whomever came up with this design at MS has already left the company

  57. Andy says:

    Thanks for giving me the answer to a question that shouldn't have to be asked! Glad to know I am not the only one…

  58. castratethem says:

    This is just insane.  It's these f'd up programmers that have to have power over all of us because they still live in their parents basement and are complete pussies and want to change things for the sake of it.

  59. Jay says:

    I finished my task while remoted into a 2012 server via RDP, then I tried to logout.  At first I couldn't find it, so I instinctively started to bring up a google page to search for it.  But then I thought to myself, "LOL, I don't need google to logout of a server.  I've been an IT Tech for 10+ years.  Only n00b scrubs would have to do an interweb search on logging out.  I'll just figure this out on my own cuz i'm leet."

    About 15 minutes later and here I am on this page.


    PS – 2012 server UI sucks

  60. Pam says:

    Terrible UI -thank goodness we help each other & can google things.

  61. Barry says:

    OK, had to fess-up, I had to Google how to log off our new 2012 Servers. Say this –job security!!!!

  62. Lee says:

    >   Nerd:  "What a lot of whingers [sic].  Please, all of you who own an iPhone, go toss it in the bin, after all it doesn't have a start button so you must all be terribly lost…."

    Speaking of bad user interfaces…

  63. Lee says:

    What strikes me is this:  if somehow, the Twilight Zone were to appear before me and whisk me away into a parallel universe where the intelligent species happened to be a six-foot-tall arachnid with four eyes in front, two on the top, and an extra pair inside each of the eight armpits, who communicates in crack-knuckle clicks, gives his girlfriend dead flies for Valentine’s Day and listens to Justin Bieber… well, in that case, I might turn around and half-expect to see something like Windows Server 2012 running on his eight-legged workstation, decorated with discarded wrappers of dead-fly Cheetos.  But my guess is, our friendly neighborhood spider-something would say, “Click click-click, clickety click!  Click!” — which is Arachnamese for, “Dude, did Windows really blow it this time or what?  This is, like, too weird!”  Then he’d give his monitor the middle chelicera.

    All that is just speculation, of course.  In the real world, I just logged on, and couldn’t wait to get logged off… but first, I had to google *how* to log off.  Note to Microsoft:  when someone who has been using Windows for over twenty years has to google how to log off of your server, maybe someone messed up.  Maybe everyone messed up.

  64. ali says:

    for something as simple to "logoff"

    which admins use many times in a day

    its annoying

  65. MK says:

    Yup, googled "log off server 2012" two months ago.  Bookmarked this page and just showed it to my tech lead.  

  66. AY says:

    its annoying

  67. JC says:

    Just found this page and I must say it feels good being a boring old fart of 60 and reading this. I manage 3 sites running a mix of 2003/2008/2012. when 2012 was installed I thought logoff mmmmm,  Ill try alt F4, cos I got a brain, slow but its there, and options came up. Then I thought a shutdown icon will work so I made a . bat file. Its what's called being an IT manager, How the hell do you guys moaning about how to log off fix complicated problems?

  68. DJ says:

    @JC >> I am 50 and manage 19 sites with servers 2003/2008/2012 and believe i have every right to moan about the appearance of new OS's.

    The new OS's was suppose to be "Better" but how is it better if you have to do a search to find out how to Log Off?

    I can, and all these guys here i'm sure, knows how to create batch files and shortcuts to log off but why should we?

    BTW you ain't the only Grey here; there are alot of us around.

  69. andye88 says:

    DJ:  Couldn't agree more.  I'm over 50 too and have been working in the Windows environment for over 20 years and had to Google to find out how to log off Win2012 using the GUI.  Like you and a whole lot of other people I think MS really botched the new UI.  If it ain't broke don't fix it.

    JC:  Before I found this site I was using "shutdown /l" so, yes, I figured out another way to log off, I know about the universal alt+f4 command too but just as almost everybody else has said here, why????  There was a perfectly good and familiar way of doing it – why change it?

    Newer versions of software are supposed to be better, easier to use and more intuitive.  Windows 2012 and 8 are definitely not that.  MS is trying to have all platforms use a common interface which I can understand but it simply doesn't work.  This UI is geared towards touch screens and most of us admins still use a keyboard and mouse which this UI is not optimized for – I might just be able to play piano with oven mitts on but why would I want to try?  Even Apple wasn't stupid enough to force the same interface they use on the IPad/IPhone on the MacBook and other non-touch hardware.

    As for PowerShell – great tool for batch processing/scripting – really bad and inefficient for day to day administration.  Who at MS thought this was a good idea????  Were the Linux guys teasing MS about Windows being a "toy" OS because it's not command-line centric?  Ease of use was always a cornerstone of MS products and why they're getting away from that is beyond me.

    I'm sure MS will do what they want to anyway and I may have to deploy Win2012 going forward but I sure as hell won't be deploying Win8.  MS really has to listen to what the customers are saying and the majority of us are saying a resounding NO to this horrible UI.

  70. Ertje says:

    I vote for Takuu:

    ALT+CTRL+END, click Signout

    Or without using the mouse: ALT+CTRL+END, Down Arrow, Enter

  71. MickHarris says:

    Wasted 2 minutes of my valuable time trying to figure out how to Log Off Win2012…

    Wasted ANOTHER 15 seconds googling to find THIS site…

    Wasted the next 15 minutes…or MORE…reading all the griping and complaining from everyone and chuckling at many of the replies…

    Now that I know several ways to log off Win2012…I'm Happy Mick AGAIN!!!  


  72. ChrisF says:

    Or you can use the keyboard Win+R (to get the run command) type CMD.  Then in the command prompt window type shutdown -l (that is a lowercase L).  I almost always open up a command prompt when logging in anyways.

  73. Zephan says:


    The options described here are very handy! Thanks to all who contributed.

    I personally don't like typing "Shutdown" on a server lest I omit or fat finger the magic /I parameter to only logoff. In general I love Microsoft and newer OS has more goodies than issues… but I too am baffled by the UI Designers and Program Manager's decision to put the "Modern" UI on a server OS without at least providing an easy way to find and permenantly enable classic UI. (Don't blame the programmers – They only code up what the designers have specified.)

    While I'm at it I found the mouse lags in Server 2012 until I go to System>Performance and tune for fast display. Turning off all the UI candy for menu expansion etc. makes a huge difference… and should be the default for a server OS. Classic mismatch of UX for the primary Server target users (Sys admins/Operations).

  74. Bob F says:

    I always do the Windows Key + X and sign out that way.

  75. Somya says:

    OMG… Just to Sign out of Win Server 2012, I have to Google and it was struggle of almost 10-15 mins… What is this new product upto…

  76. Aarohi says:

    I too had to actually "Google" to learn how to log off remotely from 2012 Windows server

  77. Craig says:

    Just Googled that also.  Grrr crap grr.

  78. Chris says:

    Anybody notice nobody used Bing to figure it out. MS – get the hint. Your products are inferior and the most frustrating ever. Should never have to search to find out how to log off of a machine. JUNK!

  79. Tony says:

    Looking closely into 2012 is like opening the hood of a Bugatti Veyron and finding a coal powered stove at the heart of the engine.

  80. Caye says:

    Same here – for the first time in well, ever, I had to Google "how to log off windows 2012 rdp session".  How could someone think this was ok, or not notice this would be a productivity hit for the faithful, and a deterrent for any prospects????  Unfortunately I see these blatant misses from Microsoft all too often lately.

  81. Harbinder Singh says:

    For windows 2012 core (Ctrl+ALT+End) solution works.

  82. Chris says:

    It's a testament to how obscure (user-hostile, even?) the Windows Server 2012 GUI is that so many people (including myself) have to use a search engine to figure out how to logout of an RDP Windows Server 2012 session! Dave Cutler and the rest of the NT designers/developers must be shaking their heads in disbelief at the direction the Server GUI has taken.

  83. John says:

    I had to google it too and for me the 2 best option to logoff

    > On screen is Ctrl + Alt + Del

    > On Remote Desktop is Ctrl + Alt + End

    And I totally disagree with some Admins here who suggested to create a batch file just to "LOGOFF" your Server where in the first place you shouldn't have to do that because you have it on the previous version!

    Thanks everyone

  84. Charles says:

    If you are logging in to or using a Server it is assumed you are knowledgeable enough to know how to use a command line. Bravo Microsoft for separating the wheat from the chaff!

  85. Xiver says:

    Pathetic.  I hope the fired everyone involved with this horrible UI.

  86. Charles M. says:

    WOW..I never thought I will have to Google "log off from windows 2012"  no wonder why more people are switching to Linux! I have to use WINDOWS due to business needs otherwise. No need for this crap!

  87. JP says:

    Ditto.  What a piece of crud is this OS UI (I had to do hthe same GUI…, and as a *Nix / Wintel Admin, I laughed at the person's comment just above mine…).

  88. Wizard_Yo says:

    create new shortcuts on the desktop for "logoff" .. "cmd" .. and "shutdown /s /f /t 30" (30 second shutdown) .. and "shutdown /a" (to abort accidental shutdown) .. easy .. works very well

  89. Sravan says:

    Click Ctrl+R then run window will open then type logoff and enter easy way

  90. Bruce C. says:

    If you look up "stupid" in the dictionary, there is a picture of the Windows tile interface.  It also shows up under "interfering with productivity".

  91. Mark says:

    Did Microsoft have meetings to discuss how to drive business customers away from their products? In what world would you have a touch screen in a server room?

  92. DaveT says:

    I just wasted 20 minutes on this. Did it not occur to MS that people would want to log out?

  93. GP says:

    Lots of good options below that work, but I think Alt-F4 seems quickest and easiest. Thanks all!

  94. K says:

    Thanks for the post. Have not worked on servers for a while. I guess the 2012 GUI will work well for managing severs using a tablet … but might be missing a keyboard then. Could I just have voice control and eye movement tracking? Otherwise I would not mind if the interface on Server 2016 looked like the one on Server 2000.

  95. wert says:

    how to log off from Windows 2012 core when you closed command-line windows? Ctr-alt-del dont have option to sing-off

  96. Dave says:

    It just took two engineers 15 minutes to sign out from a remote desktop session.  Hint, put your mouse cursor on the last pixel in the upper right or bottom left.  I prefer the bottom left as sometime the rd session window appears full screen but actually isn't so the last couple pixels in the upper right aren't available.  A hint for this scenario is the maximize/restore button state in the title bar.  Thanks guys, sweet ui!

    Oh, after reading though a bunch of comment try this as well:

    > On Remote Desktop is Ctrl + Alt + End

  97. Kristian says:

    Googled it too…

    Dave, just found out that upper won't work if you're on Win 8 running rdp to 2012 Server. The local is put over the remote one…

  98. Daryl says:

    Microsoft should put a link to a Google search for logout on the desktop as a mandatory component.

  99. Juan says:

    had to google how to log off! cmon!  what a load of crap.

  100. Nick says:

    Just discovered you can right click the Windows Icon in the bottom left corner and choose shutdown or sign out.

  101. Bruce says:

    Install the free utility program "Classic Shell" and it makes Server 2012 bearable.

  102. patrick says:

    create a desktop shortcut with Target = C:WindowsSystem32shutdown.exe /l /f  (that's a little L and a little F)

    1. Tom says:

      C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe /l /f is the proper command. Put into a btach file on your desktop, you’re golden.

  103. Bone says:

    Right click the Windows Start button.
    Choose Shut Down or Sign Out option>Sign out. Puff!

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