As far as I can tell, when I close the lid on my Dell Win7 laptop, it stays on until the battery dies. Then I have to reboot when I plug it in. How do I fix this behavior?
You’re right that your Dell laptop is behaving poorly and it is indeed possible to configure a Windows 7 system to ignore when the lid or screen is closed, which produces the exact symptom you’re seeing: the device keeps running until the battery is completely drained, at which point it dies and requires a hard reboot. Worse, if the computer happened to be writing the disk just as it died it could actually corrupt your boot disk and lose all your data too, which would be worse than having to plug in a battery to recover!
Fortunately like all Windows systems, Win7 allows you to fine tune the behavior associated with your laptop pretty easily. In fact, there’s a really handy shortcut from the Desktop that lets you get to the right spot in your Dell laptop configuration quickly.
On the right side of your Taskbar look for the battery icon:
See it? In this case my laptop is plugged in, so there’s a tiny plug adjacent to the battery as it charges. If you’re just running on battery, the tiny electrical plug won’t be present.
Click on the icon and a helpful window pops up:
Click on “More power options” on the bottom for the super-useful shortcut.
There are a number of useful settings here, but you want to look closely on the left. I’ve underlined it: Choose what closing the lid does.
Click on that option to see how your system’s set up:
Notice the third option! “When I close the lid”, then the first entry is what happens if you’re on battery, and the second entry is what happens if you’re directly plugged in to a power source.
The options for each? Here’s the list:
My guess is that your system is configured to “Do nothing” when you close the lid. Change that setting, save the changes, and you should be good to go!