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User management in Windows

By , winhelp.us logo. Last updated: 2018-08-21

How to manage user accounts in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10

If you are not the only user of your Windows device, 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 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, 8.1 and 10) folder as all users have access to the folder and its subfolders.

User account types in Windows

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 and you should not enable it.

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.

If you are planning to run scheduled tasks (such as backups) and you change your password regularly, you may want to create a special administrator account without password expiration. Select a cunning name for the account: Lemonade, MathChick, Earphones 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!

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, 8/8.1 and 10 and you cannot really use it for anything. In Windows XP, the account 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 it, unless you modify security policies and enable 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.

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 10, open Start, type "account" and click or tap Add, edit, or remove other users. This might also be named Add, edit, or remove other people.
In the Settings app, open the Family & other people tab and click Add someone else to this PC if you do not need to set up parental controls for kids.
If you want to add children's accounts, use the Add a family member option instead, choose Add a child and enter his/her e-mail address. This will send an invitation to the address, and after accepting it, the child can sign in. A parent can then monitor kids screen time, spending, recent activity, web browsing history, etc on the device, or locate them. Blocking (the whole account or inappropriate web sites, apps and games) and limiting (screen and gaming time, allowing only free apps from Windows Store) options are also available for children's accounts. These settings are managed online.
Windows 10, Start. To create a new user, type 'account' into Search box. Then click 'Add, edit, or remove other users'. Windows 10, Settings, Accounts, Family & other people. To add users, click or tap 'Add someone else to this PC'.

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 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 8, the 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 the 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 Vista and 7, type "user" into Start menu Search box and click User accounts.
The Make changes to your user account window opens. Click Manage another account.
Windows Vista, Start menu. To manage user accounts, type 'user' into Start menu Search box. Then click User Accounts. Windows 7, Manage Accounts. Click Manage another account to add a user.

In Windows XP, open Control Panel.
Then click User Accounts.
Windows XP, Start menu, Control Panel selected Windows XP, Control Panel. Click User Accounts to manage users.

Creating Microsoft accounts in Windows 8, 8.1 and 10

In Windows 8/8.1 and 10, there are two options for signing in - Microsoft account, aka Windows Live ID, and the traditional local user account. Microsoft account is the preferred one, as it offers several benefits, such as syncing settings (account picture, File Explorer and app settings, OneDrive files, etc) and Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge favorites and history across different devices. 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.

Please do note that you must connect your Windows 8/8.1 or 10 device to the Internet from time to time in order to sign in with your Microsoft account. If you have a device that is mostly offline, please create and use a local account instead.

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, OneDrive 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 an outlook.com address) or you can click the I don't have this person's sign-in information (Windows 10) or Sign up for a new email address (Windows 8/8.1) link and create a new one for him or her.
Click Next.
Windows 10, Settings, Accounts, Add someone else to this PC, How will this person sign in. To add a user with an existing Microsoft account, enter the e-mail address. Then 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.

The user probably needs to verify his/her identity in order to start syncing settings and OneDrive. A notification about this appears in Action Center, just follow the simple instructions. Alternatively, he or she can open Settings or PC Settings app, choose Accounts or Users and use the verify link there.
In Windows 8 and 8.1, the new user might need to check his/her 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.

Creating local accounts in Windows 8, 8.1 and 10

Please note that you must still use a Microsoft account if you want to install apps and programs from Windows Store, or sync files and folder with OneDrive.

First, click or tap Add someone else to this PC in Windows 10 Settings app, or Add a user in Windows 8/8.1 PC Settings app.

To create a new local account, click Add a user without a Microsoft account (Windows 10) or Sign in without a Microsoft account (Windows 8 and 8.1) in the bottom of the window.
Windows 10, Settings app, Accounts. To create a local account, click the 'Add a user without a Microsoft account' link. Windows 8, PC settings, Add a user. To create a local account, click 'Sign in without a Microsoft account'.

In Windows 8 and 8.1, 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 passphrase.
Please use a good password hint and please remember it cannot contain the password. For example, when you specify "[email protected]+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 and Finish.
Windows 10, Settings app, Create an account for this PC. Enter new User name, password and password hint. Then click Next. Windows 8, Add a user, Local account. Enter new User name, password and password hint. Then click Next.

The new account has standard rights, but you can make it an administrator as described later in this article.

Creating users accounts in Windows XP, Vista and 7

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! 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 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 "[email protected]+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'.

And this is what a password hint looks like on Welcome Screen. In Windows 8, 8.1 and 10, 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.

Switching between local and Microsoft accounts in Windows 8, 8.1 and 10

One can only switch his/her own account type from Microsoft to local or the other way around in Windows 8 and newer. Your files and settings stored on the device will remain intact, but you might need to sign in with your Microsoft account to access your OneDrive files and install apps from Windows Store.

To convert your Microsoft account to a local account in Windows 10, open Settings app and click or touch Accounts. Then, in the Your email and accounts (original Windows 10) or in the Your info (Windows 10 Anniversary Update) tab, choose Sign in with a local account instead.
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 Windows Store apps.
Windows 10, Settings, Accounts. To switch your Microsoft account to local account, click 'Sign in with a local account instead'. 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'.

First, enter 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 "[email protected]+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 Sign in with a Microsoft account instead (Windows 10), Switch to a Microsoft account (Windows 8) or Connect to a Microsoft account (Windows 8.1) in PC settings app.
Windows 10, Settings, Accounts. To convert your local account to Microsoft account, click 'Sign in with a Microsoft account instead'. 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'.

In Windows 10, enter your Microsoft account e-mail address and password, then click Sign in. If you do not have a Microsoft account yet, use the Create one link.
Windows 10, Settings, Accounts, Make it yours. Enter your existing Microsoft account e-mail address and password. Then click 'Sign in'.

In Windows 8 and 8.1, 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 or 10 account is now connected to your 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 user account type in Windows - from standard to administrator or the other way round

First, open Start menu or Start screen by pressing Ctrl+Esc or Windows Key on your keyboard.

In all Windows versions, you can use Control Panel for choosing account type, but let's also see the modern alternatives in Windows 10 and 8.1.

In Windows 10, type "account" and choose Add, edit, or remove other users. This might also be named Add, edit, or remove other people.
Windows 10, Start. To create a new user, type 'account' into Search box. Then click 'Add, edit, or remove other users'.

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'.

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.

Next, click the account you want to change.

In Windows 8.1 and 10 (PC) Settings app, click or tap Change account type (Windows 10) or Edit (Windows 8.1) or for the selected user.
Windows 10, Settings, Accounts, Family & other people. Click the name of the user you want to manage and choose 'Change account type' Windows 8.1, PC Settings, Accounts, Other accounts. Click the name of the user you want to manage and then click Edit.

Then choose the desired Account type and click or tap OK.
Windows 10, Settings, Accounts, Family & other people, Change account type. Select 'Account type' and click OK.

In Control Panel (works in 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.

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.

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.

User Accounts in Control Panel allows keeping or deleting user's files in all Windows versions. The (PC) Settings app in Windows 8.1 and 10 always deletes the files.

In Windows 10, type "account" and choose Add, edit, or remove other users. This might also be named Add, edit, or remove other people. If you want to use Control Panel for keeping the files, choose User Accounts instead.
Windows 10, Start. To create a new user, type 'account' into Search box. Then click 'Add, edit, or remove other users'.

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 open traditional Control Panel.
In Windows 8.1, type "account" and click Add, delete, and manage other user accounts in the results. This will take you to the PC settings app. Alternatively, if you need to keep user's files, choose User Accounts instead.
Windows 8, Start screen, Settings Search. To delete a user account, enter 'remove user' into Search box. Then click 'Remove user accounts'. 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'.

In Windows Vista and 7, type "user" into Start menu Search box, click User accounts and then click Manage another account.
In Windows XP, open Control Panel, click User Accounts and then click Change an account.

Next, click the account you want to erase. Let's see the modern alternatives in Windows 10 and 8.1 first.

In Windows 10's and 8.1's (PC) Settings app, click or touch Remove.
Windows 10, Settings, Accounts, Family & other people. Click the name of the user you want to delete and then click Remove. Windows 8.1, PC Settings, Accounts, Other accounts. Click the name of the user you want to delete and then click Remove.

The (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.

In Control Panel of all Windows versions, 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.

You can 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 preserve user's files, click Keep Files. If not, click Delete Files.
If the account you want to remove is a Microsoft account in Windows 8 and newer, this action will only affect locally stored files. All settings and files stored in OneDrive will remain intact.
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 erase 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 remove 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 remove user's account.

And the account is now gone for good.

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 or touch and hold an item and select Run as (in Windows XP) or Run as administrator (in Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10). This is sometimes called running a program with elevated rights.

Please note that this action might not be available for all items: for example, Control Panel and Windows/File Explorer can be launched with elevated rights only by using the runas command. This is described in the next section.
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'. Windows 10, Start menu. To run an app or a program with elevated rights, right-click it, expand the 'More' menu and choose 'Run as administrator'

If you see no pop-up menu after right-clicking on an item, the user has disabled context menus and dragging and dropping on Start menu. This can be changed in Start menu settings.

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, 8.1 and 10, 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.

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

Windows 7 and later have another, hidden option: if you need to launch a program as another user (not necessarily an administrator), hold down Shift key while right-clicking an item and choose Run as different user. This feature does not work on Start screen/menu, but it is usable on Desktop and Taskbar and in Windows/File Explorer.

That's it - just remember to close the window opened with administrator rights after performing your tasks, otherwise a standard user might misuse it to gain access to system configuration.

If the Run as (administrator) command does not work, make sure the Secondary Logon service is enabled and running.

Using the runas command in Windows

If you need to run Control Panel or Windows/File Explorer 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, 8.1 and 10, use full e-mail address of administrative account if it is a Microsoft account: for example, runas /user:[email protected] explorer.
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 '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.

The article User management in Windows appeared first on www.winhelp.us

 

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