Navigation


Content

Tip: keyboard shortcut Ctrl+F searches in the page contents.

User management in Windows

How to create, change and delete user accounts, and how to run programs with administrative rights in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1

By . Last modified: 2013-08-16.

If you are not the only user of your Windows computer, it is best to create a separate account for each user (family members, for example). This keeps each user's documents and settings, as well as Internet browsing history, entered searches and user names private. There will also be much less clutter in private folders, such as My Documents, My Pictures, etc.

To share documents, pictures, videos and other files between users on the same device, use the Shared Documents (in Windows XP) or Public Documents (Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1) folder as all users have access to the folder and its subfolders.

There are generally three types of user account in Windows:

  • Administrators - full access to everything. Administrators can install and uninstall programs, change system settings, add, manage and remove other user accounts and security policies.
  • Limited or Standard users - limited access. Users can manage only their own documents and program settings, but they cannot add or remove programs or other users, change system files and settings, or manage security. If you need to perform an administrative task without logging off the current user, select the Run As (in Windows XP) or Run as administrator (Windows Vista and newer) from right-click menu, or in Windows Vista, 7 and 8, rely on User Account Control that asks for administrator's password for performing administrative tasks.
  • Guests - limited access. Guest account is for people who do not really need a personal user account, such as your friends or visitors who need to check their webmail or social network account quickly. Guests have no access to files and folders of password-protected users, and are unable to install or uninstall programs, manage user accounts, or perform any administrative tasks. The account still has read and write access to Shared Folders / Public Folders, so do not keep sensitive files in these folders!
    Guest account is turned off by default.

There should be only one administrator account on a computer. This administrator is fully responsible for computer configuration and all software on it. All other users should have limited access to system settings.
For example, in a family father or mother (whoever knows more about computers) should be the administrator and all other family members (especially kids!) should have standard user accounts. Children tend to be overly curious and they often forget about essential security practices while downloading programs, visiting potentially malicious web sites and changing system settings - so keep their accounts limited.

If you are planning to run scheduled tasks (such as backups) and you change your password regularily, you may want to create a special administrator account without password expiration. Select a cunning name for the account: LemonadeMathChickEarphones are completely irrelevant and not easily guessed, while Admin, Root, Backup, Boss are the account names that hackers always try to find and break first.

Keep administrator's password private, never share it with other family members or other people - sharing a password would ruin all security efforts! Read the Creating strong passwords article to learn about creating and remembering strong passwords.

To change or create your own account password in Windows, see the instructions in this article.

The built-in Administrator account in Windows

To make things a little fuzzier, there is already an account named "Administrator" on every Windows computer - so you cannot create an account with name "Administrator", just use your name instead.
The account is disabled in Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1 and you cannot really use it for anything. In Windows XP it is enabled, but does not show up on Welcome Screen. In all cases, the Administrator account has a blank password by default. Luckily, Windows does not allow remote logins or using the Run as / Run as administrator command with blank passwords, so your computer cannot be hijacked with the account.

You should leave the built-in Administrator account as it is. Do not try to enable or start using it, or change its password. In Windows XP, the account only appears while starting Windows in Safe Mode - then you can use it for resetting a forgotten password.
If you do forget the password of your own administrator account and you have no other administrators on the PC, try using the Offline Password & Registry Editor on www.winhelp.us Data Recovery CD/USB.

Creating new users in Windows

To add a user account, open Start menu or Start screen by pressing Ctrl+Esc or Windows Key on your keyboard or by clicking the Start button.

In Windows XP, open Control Panel.
In Windows Vista and 7, type "user" into Start menu Search box and click User accounts.
In Windows 8 and 8.1, use keyboard shortcut Windows Key+W to open Settings Search. Type "users" (Windows 8) or "create" into Search box and click Users or Create an account (Windows 8.1) in search results.
Windows XP, Start menu, Control Panel selected Windows Vista, Start menu. To manage user accounts, type 'user' into Start menu Search box. Then click User Accounts. Windows 8, Start screen, Settings Search. To manage user accounts, type 'user' into Search box. Then click Users. Windows 8.1, Settings Search. To add user accounts, type 'create' into Search box. Then click 'Create an account'.

In Windows XP, click User Accounts.
In Windows Vista and 7, Make changes to your user account window opens. Click Manage another account.
Windows XP, Control Panel. Click User Accounts to manage users. Windows 7, Manage Accounts. Click Manage another account to add a user.

Windows Vista will, of course, greet your action with User Account Control. Click Continue.

In Windows 8, the new Modern UI/Metro PC settings app opens in Users tab. Find the Other users section on the right and click Add a user.
Windows 8, PC settings, Users. To add a user account, click 'Add a user' in Other users section.

In Windows 8.1, Control Panel opens on Desktop. Click Add a new user in PC settings. This opens PC settings app in Accounts, Other accounts tab. Click or tap Add a user.
Windows 8.1, Control Panel, User accounts. Click 'Add an new user in PC settings'. Windows 8.1, PC Settings, Accounts, Other accounts. Click or tap 'Add a user'.

In Windows 8 and 8.1, there are two options for sigining in - the traditional local user (Local account) or the new semi-online user (Microsoft account, aka Windows Live ID). The latter is the preferred one, as it offers several benefits, such as syncing personalization settings (account picture, Windows colors, etc) and Internet Explorer favorites and history. You must be connected to the Internet to log in with Microsoft account for the first time on a device.
You can switch account type later if you want to.

First, let's see how to create a new user with Microsoft account.

Click here to show or hide instructions for creating a Microsoft account in Windows 8 and 8.1

To create a new user with Microsoft account, enter the person's e-mail address that he or she uses to sign in to Microsoft/Windows Live services, such as Outlook.com, Xbox, SkyDrive or Skype.
If the user does not have Microsoft account, he/she can connect any other existing e-mail address (this does not need to be a Hotmail address) or you can click the Sign up for a new email address link and create a new one for him or her.
Click Next.
Windows 8, PC settings, Add a user. To create a new user with Microsoft account, enter the e-mail address. Then click Next.

The new account has standard rights, but you can make it an administrator as described later in this article. Click Finish and remember your computer must be connected to the Internet to sign in with the new account for the very first time.
Windows 8, PC settings, Add a user, new Microsoft account creation complete. Click Finish.

The last thing to do is to check e-mail account's Inbox and click the link below "Use this link to confirm <device name> as a trusted PC". This enables syncing personalization settings and Internet Explorer favorites and history on this computer.
If the new account is just a temporary one and is not on your device, click the cancel link instead.
Windows 8, Windows Live Account Security Confirmation e-mail. Click the appropriate link to add the computer as a trusted one.

Next, let's see how to create a traditional account. Please note that you must still use your Microsoft account if you want to install apps and programs from Windows Store.

Click here to show or hide instructions for creating a local account in Windows 8 and 8.1

To create a new local account for a user, click Sign in without a Microsoft account.
Windows 8, PC settings, Add a user. To create a local account, click Sign in without a Microsoft account.

The There are two options for signing in screen will list differences between Microsoft accounts and Local accounts. Click Local account.
Windows 8, PC settings, Add a user, There are two options for signing in. Click Local account.

Now enter User name, password and password hint. Make sure you create a strong, memorable passphrase.
Please use a good password hint and please remember it cannot contain the password. For example, when you specify "M@tt+daM0n89" for the new password, use "Your favorite actor and some number" as a password hint. Remember not to make the hint too obvious as anyone can see it on Welcome Screen after entering a wrong password.
Then click Next.
Windows 8, Add a user, Local account. Enter new User name, password and password hint. Then click Next.

Finally, click Finish. The new account has standard rights, but you can make it an administrator as described later in this article.
Windows 8, Add a user, Local account complete. Click Finish.

In Windows XP, Vista and 7, click Create a new account.
Windows XP, User Accounts. Click Create a new account. Windows Vista, Manage Accounts. Click Create a new account.

Type a user name for the new account. Usually, first name is sufficient.
In Windows XP, click Next.
In Windows Vista and 7, select if the user should be a Standard user or an Administrator. In most cases, leave Standard user selected. Remember, there should be only one user with administrative rights on a computer! Then click Create Account.
Windows XP, User Accounts, Name the new account. Type a user name for the new account (first name is fine) and click Next. Windows 7, Create a new account. Type a user name for the new account (first name is fine). For a user with limited rights, leave Standard user selected. Click Create Account.

In Windows XP, select the account type and click Create Account. Again, Limited is preferred here.
Windows XP, User Accounts, Pick an account type. Select Limited for the account type and click the Create Account button.

But we are not done yet! Smile As you probably noticed, Windows XP, Vista and 7 did not ask for password for the new account. This is bad, every account must be password-protected. Let's create a password for the new account now. Again, remember to follow the guidelines for creating strong passwords.

Click on the new account under in the "pick an account to change" (Windows XP) or "choose the account you would like to change" (Windows Vista and 7) section.
Windows XP, User Accounts. Click on an account to change its type, name, picture or create a password. Windows 7, Manage Accounts, Choose the account you would like to change. Click on an account to change its type, name, picture or create a password.

Click Create a password.
Windows XP, User Accounts, What do you want to change about account. Click Create a password to password-protect an account. Windows 7, Change an Account, Make changes to account. Click Create a password to password-protect an account.

Type the new password into two first boxes - New password and Confirm new password. Also type in something for password hint to help user remember the password in case he/she forgets it. Just do not type the password itself! Use some words that describe the password. For example, when you specify "M@tt+daM0n89" for the new password, use "Your favorite actor and some number" as a password hint. Remember not to make the hint too obvious as anyone can see it on Welcome Screen by clicking the Password hint (blue button with white question mark) button (in Windows XP) or entering a wrong passphrase (Windows Vista and 7).
As we are setting a password for a brand new user, there is need to worry about losing his/her EFS-encrypted files, certificates or stored passwords.
Click the Create password button.
Windows Vista, Create a password for an account. Type the new password in two first boxes. Then type a password hint in the third box. Click Create password button.

And this is what a password hint looks like on Welcome Screen. In Windows 8 and 8.1, password hints are displayed for local user accounts only.
Windows XP, Welcome Screen. If you forget your password, try clicking the blue Password Hint button. Windows Vista, Welcome Screen. If you enter a wrong password for an account, the password hint for it will be displayed. Windows 8, Welcome Screen. If you enter a wrong password for a local account, the password hint for it will be displayed.

To change your own account password, see the instructions in Creating strong passwords article.

Switching between local and Microsoft accounts in Windows 8 and 8.1

Finally for Windows 8 and 8.1, let's see how to switch user account type. You can only switch your own account type from Microsoft to local or the other way around.

Click here to show or hide instructions for converting Windows 8 local accounts to Microsoft accounts and vice versa

To convert your Microsoft account to a local account in Windows 8, click Switch to a local account in PC settings app, Users tab.
In Windows 8.1, open Accounts and Your account tabs in PC settings app. Then click the Disconnect link.
First, close all running programs and save all open documents. Use keyboard shortcut Alt+Tab to switch between running Desktop programs and keyboard shortcut Windows Key+Tab to switch between open Metro apps.
Windows 8, PC settings, Users. To switch your Microsoft account to local account, click 'Switch to a local account'. Windows 8.1, PC settings, Accounts, Your account. To switch your Microsoft account to local account, click 'Disconnect'.

Enter your current password and click Next.
Windows 8, PC settings, Users, Switch to a local account. Type your current password and click Next.

Specify a local user name. Then type password and password hint for the account. Please remember that password reuse is very dangerous in case any of your account gets hacked, so specify a new one here.
Please use a good password hint and please remember it cannot be your password. For example, when you specify "M@tt+daM0n89" for the new password, use "Your favorite actor and some number" as a password hint. Remember not to make the hint too obvious as anyone can see it on Welcome Screen after entering a wrong password.
Click Next.
Windows 8, PC settings, Users, Switch to a local account. Enter a new user name, password and password hint. Then click Next.

Finally, click Sign out and finish to complete the account switching process.
Windows 8, PC settings, Users, Switch to a local account. Click Sign out and finish.

To convert your local account to Microsoft account, click Switch to a Microsoft account (Windows 8) or Connect to a Microsoft account (Windows 8.1) in PC settings app.
Windows 8, PC settings, Users. To convert your local account to Microsoft account, click Switch to a Microsoft account. Windows 8.1, PC settings, Accounts, Your account. To switch from local to Microsoft account, click 'Connect to a Microsoft account'.

Enter the e-mail address you use for Microsoft services, such as Outlook.com, Xbox, SkyDrive or Skype. If you do not have a Microsoft account yet, enter any of your existing e-mail addresses instead.
Click Next.
Windows 8, PC settings, Sign in with a Microsoft account. Enter your existing e-mail address. Then click Next.

If you specified an existing Microsoft account, type the account's password and click Next.
Windows 8, PC settings, Enter your Microsoft account password. Type the password for your Microsoft account to complete switching from local account to a Microsoft account. Click Next.

In case your Microsoft account has no security verification info, it is strongly recommended to enter it here. This will be really helpful if your account is hacked or you are not able to access it.
Windows 8, PC settings, Enter security verification info. Fill the required fields to ease password recovery in emergency cases. Click Next.

And that's it - your Windows 8/8.1 account is now a Microsoft account. Click Finish.
You can continue working, but use your Microsoft account e-mail address and password to sign in/log in the next time.
Windows 8, PC settings, Sign in with a Microsoft account. Click Finish to complete converting your local account to Microsoft account.

Changing existing user's account type in Windows - from standard to administrator or the other way round

When you need to turn a limited/standard user to an administrator (or vice versa), open Start menu or Start screen by pressing Ctrl+Esc or Windows Key on your keyboard.
In Windows XP, open Control Panel, click User Accounts and then click Change an account.
In Windows Vista and 7, type "user" into Start menu Search box, click User accounts and then click Manage another account.
In Windows 8 and 8.1, open Settings search using keyboard shortcut Windows Key+W. Type "users" (Windows 8) or "account" into Search box and click Change account type or Add, delete, and manage other user accounts in the results. In Windows 8, this will open traditional Control Panel in Desktop environment; Windows 8.1 will use PC Settings app instead. Please note that you can still use Control Panel in Windows 8.1 for fully managing user accounts.
Windows 8, Start screen, Settings Search. To change user account types, enter 'users' into Search box. Then click Change account type. Windows 8.1, Start screen, Settings Search. To change user account types, enter 'account' into Search box. Then click 'Add, delete, and manage other user accounts'.

Next, click the account you want to change.

In Control Panel (all Windows versions), click Change the account type.
Windows XP, User Accounts. Click Change the account type to set the account type to Administrator or Limited User. Windows 7, Change an Account. Click Change the account type to set the account type to Administrator or Standard User.

In Windows 8.1's PC Settings app, click or tap Edit.
Windows 8.1, PC Settings, Accounts, Other accounts. Click the name of the user you want to manage and then click Edit.

In Control Panel, select the account type you want and click Change Account Type button.
Windows XP, User Accounts, Pick a new account type. Select the account type you like and click the Change Account Type button. Windows Vista, Choose a new account type. Select the account type you like and click the Change Account Type button.

In Windows 8.1 PC Settings app, select Account type and click or tap OK.
Windows 8.1, PC Settings, Accounts, Other accounts, Edit account. Select 'Account type' and click OK.

Deleting user accounts in Windows

If you need remove a user account, open Start menu or screen by pressing CTRL+ESC or WINDOWS KEY on your keyboard.
In Windows XP, open Control Panel, click User Accounts and then click Change an account.
In Windows Vista and 7, type "user" into Start menu Search box, click User accounts and then click Manage another account.
In Windows 8, open Settings Search using keyboard shortcut Windows Key+W, type "remove user" into Search box and click Remove user accounts in the results. This will again open traditional Control Panel.
In Windows 8.1, click Add, delete, and manage other user accounts in the results. This will take you to PC settings app.
Windows 8, Start screen, Settings Search. To delete a user account, enter 'remove user' into Search box. Then click Remove user accounts.

Next, click the account you want to erase.

In Control Panel, click Delete the account.
Windows XP, User Accounts. Click Delete the account to permanently remove the user account. Windows 7, Make change to an Account. Click Delete the account to permanently remove the user account.

In Modern UI/Metro PC Settings app of Windows 8.1, click or tap Remove.
Windows 8.1, PC Settings, Accounts, Other accounts. Click the name of the user you want to delete and then click Remove.

Control Panel offers an option to save the user's files and Desktop contents to a folder on your Desktop before deleting the account. This might come in handy sometimes, but remember that no program settings or e-mails will be stored in the folder.
If you want to keep user's files, click Keep Files. If not, click Delete Files.
Windows XP, User Accounts, Do you want to keep files. Click Keep Files if you want to save user's documents and Desktop contents to a folder on your Desktop. If you want to delete all files, click Delete Files. Windows Vista, Delete Account, Do you want to keep files. Click Keep Files if you want to save user's documents and Desktop contents to a folder on your Desktop. If you want to delete all files, click Delete Files.

Windows now asks if you are really-really sure you want to remove the user account. Click Delete Account to confirm.
Windows Vista, Delete Account, Are you sure you want to delete account. Click the Delete Account button to delete user's account.

Windows 8.1 PC Settings app will always remove the user and his/her files. Click or tap Delete account and data to confirm.
Windows 8.1, PC Settings, Accounts, Other accounts, Delete account and data. Click 'Delete account and data' to confirm user account removal.

Running programs as a different user in Windows

Sometimes you need to open a program or an item as an administrator without logging off the current limited user. The easiest way to do it for programs is to right-click an item and select Run as... (in Windows XP) or Run as administrator (in Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1). This is sometimes called running a program with elevated rights.
Windows XP, to run a program with administrative rights, right-click on a program icon and select Run as... Windows 7, running programs with elevated rights. Right-click an item and select Run as administrator. Windows 8, Start screen. To run a Desktop program with elevated rights, right-click it and then click 'Run as administrator' in App bar. Windows 8.1, Search everywhere. To run a Desktop program with elevated rights, right-click it and then click 'Run as administrator'.

If you see no pop-up menu after right-clicking on an item on Start menu, the user has disabled context menus on Start menu.
Windows XP users should read this article about how to turn the "Enable dragging and dropping" option on.
Windows Vista users should read this article about how to turn the "Enable context menus and dragging and dropping" option on.
Windows 7 users should read this article about how to turn the "Enable context menus and dragging and dropping" option on.

In Windows XP, Run As window opens. Click to activate the The following user option, type in a User name with administrative rights, enter the account's Password and click OK.
In Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1, User Account Control window opens. If there is only one administrator account available (as recommended), the name will be selected by default. Else, select the appropriate account from the list. Type in the account's Password and click OK (in Windows Vista) or Yes (Windows 7 and later).
Windows XP, Run As. Click The following user. Then type in administrator user name and password and click OK. Windows 7, running programs with administrative rights, User Account Control. Click the administrator name and type in the password. Then click Yes.

If the password was correct, the program now launches with administrative rights. If the password was not correct, retype the password in User Account Control prompt.

Please note that Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1 warn about programs that have no digital signature. You can click the Details button to check if it really is the correct program. In case everything's fine, type in the administrator's password and click OK or Yes.
Windows Vista, running programs with administrative rights, User Account Control. If the program has no digital signature, the window has a warning. See Details before clicking OK.

Windows Vista and newer are smart enough to ask for administrator password for performing administrative tasks while a standard user is logged on. You can use Start menu Search box or Search charm (Windows 8/8.1 only) for finding administrative tasks. After clicking on a task that requires administrator rights, a User Account Control window will pop up.
That's it - just remember to close the window opened with administrator rights after performing your tasks, otherwise a standard user might gain access to system configuration!

Limited users on Windows XP have no such password prompts and they should use the runas command.

Using the runas command in Windows

If you need to run Control Panel, Windows/File Explorer or some other program with administrative rights, use keyboard shortcut WINDOWS KEY+R to open the Run dialog.
Then type runas /user:<administrator name> control into Open field. To run Windows/File Explorer, replace "control" with "explorer".
Replace <administrator name> with the name of an administrator account - "mirjam" in this example. In Windows 8 and 8.1, use full e-mail address of administrative account if it is Microsoft accoumt.
The capitalization does not matter in this case. Note that there is no space after colon.
Press Enter key or click OK to run the command.
Windows XP, Run dialog. To open Control Panel with administrative rights, type in runas /user:administratorname control. Then click OK.

A black command prompt window opens asking for the account's password. Type it in and press Enter key to start the program as another user.
Windows Vista, runas command. Type in the password for the administrative account and press Enter.

If the password was correct, the program starts. After completing operations as an administrator, always close the open window(s) to prevent standard users from accessing administrative tasks.

Managing the Guest account in Windows

The Guest account in Windows is disabled by default. Despite the fact that it is an account with limited rights, it still has full access to Shared / Public Folders and this might pose a problem for some. Another issue with Guest account is that it has no password and it cannot be changed easily in Home versions of Windows.

But the account is still very useful if your friends need to check their Facebook or webmail accounts while visiting you: there is no need to create separate accounts for people who do not use your computer often.

To turn Guest account on or off, open Start menu in Windows XP, Vista and 7 using the CTRL+ESC keyboard shortcut.
In Windows XP, open Control Panel and click User Accounts.
In Windows Vista and 7, type "user" into Start menu Search box, click User accounts and then click Manage another account.
In Windows 8 and 8.1, use keyboard shortcut Windows Key+W to open Settings search, type "guest" into Search box and click Turn guest account on or off.

The current status of the Guest account is displayed as "Guest account is off" or "Guest account is on".

To enable the account, click its name.
Windows XP, User Accounts. To enable Guest account, click its name. Windows Vista, Manage Accounts, Choose the account you would like to change. To enable Guest account, click its name.

Click the Turn On the Guest Account (Windows XP) or Turn On (Windows Vista and later) button to unlock the account.
Windows XP, User Accounts, Do you want to turn on the guest account. Click Turn On the Guest Account.

The visitors' account is now active. Remember, it has no password and you cannot change this the same way you create or reset other users' passwords.

If you need to disable the account later, open User Accounts in Control Panel, click Guest account and then click Turn off the guest account. The action will not be confirmed.
Windows Vista, Manage Accounts, What do you want to change about the guest account. To disable the user, click Turn off the guest account.

Changing Guest account password in Windows

Having the Guest account turned on without password protection is often a bad idea. Windows does not let you change the password easily - mainly to prevent some ill-humored visitor from resetting it.

In Windows XP, open Run dialog using keyboard shortcut Windows Key+R, type "cmd" into Open field and click OK.
In Windows Vista and 7, type "cmd" into Start menu Search box, right-click cmd.exe and click Run as administrator.
In Windows 8 and 8.1, open Start screen and type "cmd" - Search pane opens automatically (you can also open Search pane using keyboard shortcut Windows Key+Q). Right-click Command Prompt and click Run as administrator in App bar (Windows 8) or pop-up menu (Windows 8.1).
Windows XP, Run dialog. To open Command Prompt, type cmd. Then click OK. Windows Vista, Start menu. To open an elevated command prompt, type cmd. Right-click the cmd.exe and select Run as administrator. Windows 8, Start screen, Search pane. Type 'cmd', right-click Command Prompt and click 'Run as administrator'.

This opens a Command Prompt window. In Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1, this is also known as elevated command prompt - you need administrator's rights to perform the following task.

Type in the following command: net user guest *
Press Enter to run it.
You will see a "Type a password for the user:" prompt, type a new password and press Enter key.
A "Retype the password to confirm:" prompt will follow, repeat the new password and press Enter.
If passwords matched, you will see the "The command completed successfully" message. Close the Command Prompt window by click the X mark on the top right.
Windows Vista, elevated Command Prompt window. To change Guest account password, type: net user guest *

To revert to a blank password, do not type anything in the password prompts and just press Enter.


Please support winhelp.us:
No PayPal account required!

 Comments? Suggestions? Ideas? Let me know! 
Your name (public):
Your e-mail (will not be displayed):
Title:
Notify me of new comments to this item: (send e-mail to info[at]winhelp.us to stop receiving)
Your comments/suggestions/ideas (no HTML code!)
winhelp.us owners reserve the right to remove or not publish comments that they find unacceptable because of strong language, inappropriate contents, advertising or spamming.
winhelp.us Privacy Policy.
This is a captcha-picture. It is used to prevent mass-access by robots. (see: www.captcha.net)
Share: Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn StumbleUpon Pinterest E-mail

Browser and plugin check Google Custom Search Donate to keep this site running