Different Ways to Sign in to Windows 10
Updated: Aug 6
As I work with business and residential clients in Brisbane, Logan and the Redlands, I'm frequently involved in setting up new computers. After powering on a new Windows 10 computer for the first time, or after a reinstall of Windows, it's necessary to create a user account with which you'll log in to the computer.
During the Windows computer setup process nowadays, Microsoft insists on you using a Microsoft account to log on. However, you may not want to log on using a Microsoft account. In fact, you may not even want to have to enter a password or PIN when you switch your computer on. Fortunately, although Microsoft doesn’t make it easy for us, it is still possible to log on to your Windows computer in whatever way you want. Let's take a look at the different ways of accomplishing this.
Using a Local Account to Log on
You may want to be able to sign in to your Windows 10 computer using a local log-on rather than by using a Microsoft account. You can log on in this way and still be able to use Microsoft services such as OneDrive, as you can sign into OneDrive with whichever Microsoft account you choose once you're logged on. In fact, if you want to, you can sign in to OneDrive using several different accounts at the same time. When you do this you'll be able to view each of the OneDrive accounts separately in File Explorer.
What if I Forget My Password?
One significant advantage of using a Microsoft account to log on is that you don't need to remain locked out if you forget your password. You can use another device to reset the password of your Microsoft account and, having done so, log in on the computer on which you’ve forgotten the password.
With a local account, it’s a little more tricky to regain access after forgetting your password, unless you’ve set up security questions. You would require Windows 10 installation media, or some other Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) media from which you can boot the computer. Having booted from such media, you then need to access the Windows Registry and make some changes which will allow you to reset your password from the command line. This procedure is a little complex but if you do find yourself locked out of your computer, I'm here to help you with regaining access.
Creating a Local Account Log-in During the Windows 10 Setup Procedure
When setting up a new Windows 10 computer, or following reinstallation of Windows, you are guided through a number of steps by Microsoft, with the help of Cortana. After specifying your region and keyboard, you're asked which WiFi network you would like to connect to. Following this you are asked for details of the Microsoft account you’d like to use to sign in. If you don’t yet have a Microsoft account, you have the opportunity to create one. However, no option is provided to sign in with a local account rather than a Microsoft account.
In order to avoid having to sign in with a Microsoft account, you need to make sure that your computer isn’t connected to the internet during the setup process. If you’re using a wired connection, keep the ethernet cable disconnected during setup. If you’re using WiFi, don’t enter any WiFi details when prompted about your WiFi network, but proceed with the limited setup. In doing so, Windows will recognise that the computer isn’t connected to the internet, and will prompt you to create a local account using a username and password, rather than a Microsoft account.
Creating a Local Account With No Password
Whilst it’s not a fantastic idea from a security viewpoint, it is actually possible to create a local log-in to your computer without a password. In order to do this, all you have to do is to press <Enter> when asked to create a password during the setup process. Windows will then permit you to proceed with the remainder of the setup.
Assuming you do want to create a password for your account, Windows will prompt you to set up three security questions after you've entered your desired password. These questions would be used in the event that you forget your password.
It can, however, be rather tedious having to think of the answers to three questions when setting up your computer. I usually wouldn’t want to set up these questions at this stage in the process as I’m keen to get the computer up and running as quickly as possible. If I’m setting the computer up for someone else, who may not be present at that moment, I would have no way of knowing what security questions and answers they would want to use.
It is also possible to avoid setting up the security questions. In order to do this you need to not create a password at this stage in the setup process. A password can then be added to your account once you’ve signed in to Windows. Once again, if you try to do this using Control Panel or the Settings, Windows will force you to set up three security questions. In order to avoid this, it’s necessary to create the password using the command line.
Using the Command Line to Create a Password
Use of the command line may sound complicated, but it’s actually extremely straightforward and only requires the use of a single command. You first need to launch a command prompt window. To do this, simply click on the Windows start button, type cmd and, when you see Command Prompt appear as the best match, right-click on it and select Run as administrator. Then select Yes to allow the app to make changes. A small black window will appear. You should then type in the following line and press <Enter>.
net user <username> <password>
<username> is the username you’ve just created. This will normally be the one you've used to log in. If you created a username which contained spaces, you’ll need to enclose the name in inverted commas.
<password> is the password you would like to use to log in to this account.
This method can also be used to create additional local log-ins. To do so, use the following command.
net user <username> <password> /add
This time specify a new username and password. Should you want the additional log-in to also be a local administrator, use the following command after creating the account.
net localgroup administrators <username> /add
Use of a PIN
If you do choose to use a Microsoft account for your log-in, Windows will also prompt you to set up a PIN during the setup process. You then have the option of signing in using the password or the PIN. In the event that you forget the PIN, you can use the password to sign in. The password, but not the PIN, can be reset from another device. You can also set up a picture password if you’re using a touchscreen device.
If You Need Help
If you're in Brisbane, Logan or the Redlands, and you'd like some assistance with setting up the sign-in to your Windows 10 computer the way you want, I'm here to help. You may have already set up your log-on using a Microsoft account but you'd prefer a local sign-in or to do away with having to enter a password or PIN. If you can't work out how to do this using the instructions I've provided here, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Likewise if you're having problems logging on to your Windows computer, or you're locked out of your computer because you've forgotten your password, I'm here to help. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you're located in any of the wide range of suburbs I cover.