This article is targeted at Windows XP and Windows Vista users. The article doesn’t scope beyond.

When users on Windows XP or vista try to shut their computer, at times it takes more time than expected. I’ve heard vista users complaining that the system takes as long as 5 minutes or more to shut down. This issue can be fixed by a simple tweak to the registry. I have tried this on XP and the vista part was tested by a friend.

Note: This tweak involves editing/manipulating the registry, which is not advised if you a newbie or a computer noob. Take help of a professional in case you do not know how to handle registries. It is also advised that you take a back up of your registry before you man handle it. This will save your life if you do edit/change something which you were not supposed to :). You can read for more help on how to take a registry backup.

Most importantly you need to be the admin or have admin rights in order execute this tweak as this involves tweaking your registry and not everyone will have rights to do so.

If you are a Windows XP user, then read this else skip to the Vista part:

– Click “Start” and Type ‘regedit‘ in the Run box and hit “Enter“.
– Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER >> Control Panel >> Desktop
– On to your right you’ll see a key ‘WaitToKillAppTimeout‘, double click on the key and change the value to be somewhere between 3500 and 5500. (The values here are in milliseconds, which means lesser the value, quicker the system shuts down).
– Once the value is changed, save the value by clicking “OK“.

When you try to logoff or shutdown your system, there are possibilities that a few user initiated processes are running which may need to by killed before the system shuts down completely. The key WaitToKillAppTimeout internally determines how long the system needs to wait before attempting to kill those processes which are still on.

The key WaitToKillAppTimeout will round robin each process that is runningĀ  and calls the AutoEndTasks action on those processes. Most of the processes are killed by the system implicitly or the system user kills them explicitly. If not, that’s when AutoEndTasks key, as the name specifies takes the responsibility of killing such processes.

Now you may want to do a little more tweak so that the end task dialog doesn’t pop up everytime, which can get annoying at times. You still have the registry open right, if not follow the same steps mentioned above to open the registry editor.
In registry editor Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER >> Control Panel >> Desktop

Navigate to find the AutoEndTasks key, which will be somewhere stuffed down in the right pane and double click to open and edit it. Normally, the default value here will be 0, just change it to 1. Click “OK” to save the value. This will ensure that the end task dialog doesn’t pop up every time your systems’ WaitToKillAppTimeout calls the AutoEndTasks.

Now a bit of help for the Vista users:

You should note that the key WaitToKillServiceTimeout replaces WaitToKillAppTimeout in Vista . The functionality is the same, just the name and the location is changed.

If your registry is not open yet, the keys are same as described above.

– Once the registry is open you have to navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control
– In the right side of the registry editor window search for WaitToKillServiceTimeout. Double click on the key to open and edit it. Rest is the same what you’d do for XP and is explained above.

Try this and let me know how it changed your shutdown speed.


  1. @Joe – Which model and what operating system do you have ? And also, any idea about how many applications (unwanted) running in the background ? If you have an old system, there is nothing much that can be done. If it is unwanted applications like – chat software, download software, torrent software running, then you’ll need to close their operations before you close shut your system down. This might help.

  2. Hello,,,,big problem ( WaitToKillApp and AutoEndTask is NOT in my regitry anywhere. only thing in my reg. desktop is windows metrics and when i click on it shows nothing.

    my xp shuts down after 3min. or more please help


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