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How Can I Start and Shut Down My Computer Automatically on a Schedule?

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.

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