Avoid installing updates when you shut down: If you see that dreaded yellow shield with an exclamation point next to your Shut down button, a few simple keyboard shortcuts can get around the time-sucking updates. Click on your desktop (or hit the Windows key + D) and then hit Alt+F4. This brings you to a shutdown menu where you can choose to "Shut Down" quickly instead of "Install Updates and Shut Down." The quicker shutdown option isn't available on the regular start menu.
For a more permanent solution, check out this registry hack to stop Windows Update from hijacking your start button. This gets you to the sleep, hibernate, or shut down functions and bypasses that forced update.
Speed up the shutdown process in general: There's another registry hack that can get Windows to shut down faster. (Be sure to backup your registry, under the File menu in the registry editor, before tweaking!)
- Hit the Windows key, then type "regedit" into the search field and hit enter.
- In the registry editor, go to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control and look for the WaitToKillServiceTimeout string on the right.
- Double-click it to edit, and change the default of 12000 (12 seconds) to 2000 (2 seconds).
- Hit OK to save the change. This reduces the time Windows waits to close running processes.
Keyboard shortcuts: The Alt+F4 shortcut above is faster than using your mouse to navigate to the start button and select your shutdown option. Alternatively, you can hit the Windows key, then the right arrow three times, then the U key or Enter to shut down (or R to restart).
As with improving Windows' startup times, you can see the effects of your shutdown process tweaks in Windows' Event Viewer (hit the Windows key and type in "eventvwr" and then navigate to/expand Applications and Services Logs > Microsoft > Windows > Diagnostics-Performance > Operational. Look for Event ID 200).
Why waste time just turning off your computer? I don't know about you, but the faster I log off, the more I might actually get done.