It’s hard to imagine a world in which you can’t fold up your computer, stuff it in your backpack, and take it with you anywhere. But if you prefer the ergonomics of a desktop computer, the convenience of a laptop just isn’t the same.
You could use your laptop at a desk, but you’ll be hunched over looking at a display that’s too low, with a trackpad that just can’t match the comfort and precision of a mouse. If you want a more comfortable office setup, grab one of our favorite external monitors, keyboards, and mice—plus a USB hub if you need ports for them all—and recreate the desktop experience with your portable PC.
There’s one problem: by default, Windows puts your computer to sleep when you close the lid. This isn’t ideal if you want to fold up your laptop and hide it out of sight while “docked” on your workspace. (You could use your laptop as a second monitor, of course, but that takes up precious desk space you may not have.)
You can change this behavior in any version of Windows with a simple settings tweak inside the old pre-Windows 10 Control Panel. Open the Start menu and search for Control Panel. Navigate to Hardware and Sound > Power Options > Choose what closing the lid does. You can also type “Lid” into the Start menu to immediately find this menu.
The “When I close the lid” section presents a drop-down menu with four options—Sleep, Hibernate, Shut down, and Do Nothing—based on the laptop’s power state: on battery or plugged in.
For example, you could set it to Do Nothing when the laptop is plugged in, but select the Sleep option when the computer is on battery power. This allows the closed laptop to continue functioning while it is hooked up to a power source, so you can use it as a desktop alternative without having to deal with the device itself. It will also make sure you won’t accidentally shut the lid and toss the laptop in your backpack while it’s still running, which can generate a lot of dangerous heat.
But it’s up to you—you could always assign the power button to your computer’s Sleep function from this same menu, giving you a quick way to power down before stuffing it in your bag.
This isn’t just for laptops you want to use as a desktop, either. Use this feature if you want to turn an old laptop into a home server. This will allow you to set up the server and keep the computer out of sight until it’s actually needed. It’s also useful for accessing a laptop remotely from your phone or tablet. If it’s still on while closed, you can access it from anywhere.