Making sure that your air conditioner is shut down for the winter will help you when next summer comes. You don't have to put as much work into the air conditioner to make sure it's ready to go when summer comes if you do these things.
Clean the Outside Unit
One thing that you can do is to clean out the outside unit. You want to make sure that there is no debris caught in the grill that could damage the grill. You also want to make sure that there isn't any dirt, grass bits, or other similar things on the unit. You can use a hose to clean it off. You want to spray the unit from the top to the bottom so that you aren't blowing dirt back on the areas that you already cleaned. Make sure that you are doing this on a day where the temperature is going to stay above freezing. You don't want to risk anything freezing over since that could cause some damage to your air conditioner.
Cover the Unit
Another thing that you can do to help shut down your air conditioner down for the winter is to put a cover on it. There are several ways that you can do this. One is that you can get some large plastic wrap and wrap it around the unit several times to make sure that everything is covered up. There are also covers that you can purchase that you can use. The covers can be soft covers that you would put on just like you put on a bag. You slip it over the unit and then cinch it closed at the bottom to make sure that nothing can get into the unit. There are also hard covers that you can set on the unit. These are like a box that you would just place over the unit. You can get screw kits so that you can screw the cover onto the cement pad that your AC unit might be sitting on. The reason that you want to cover the unit is that it helps to make sure that the weather can't get into the unit and cause damage.
You want your air conditioner work when you turn it on in the summer. One way to help that happen is to make sure that you shut it down correctly. If you have any concerns, you can always call an HVAC company for air conditioning services.