Forgot Windows 10 Password? Here's How to Reset It

Category: Windows-10

So you forgot your Windows 10 login password? Or maybe you 'inherited' a Windows 10 computer and you can't log in. There's hope, but resetting a forgotten password for a Windows 10 PC can be complicated by several factors. I this article, I’ll show you how to create a Password Reset disk as a preventive measure, and also how to reset your password if you don’t have one. Let's dig in...

Windows 10 Password Recovery - It's a Bit Complicated...

First, it matters whether you are trying to reset a local password that is stored on the PC in question or a Microsoft account password that is stored in the cloud. It also matters whether you need to reset an administrator account's password or a user account's password.

If, like many users, you created just one account when you set up Win 10 and use it day to day, then it is an administrator account. If you chose to log in with a Microsoft account during setup (or later), then you should use the "forgot my password" procedure found on Microsoft Live's login page. Here is a direct link to the password reset page.

If, as I have recommended for security purposes, you created a standard (local) user account and use it for all your day-to-day computing, then Microsoft's official word on the subject is this: "You're out of lucky, buddy." Okay, I paraphrased. What they actually say is "If you forgot your local account password AND you don’t have a Password Reset Disk, you can’t recover it. Instead, you’ll need to reset your PC."

Forgot Windows 10 login password

Creating a Password Reset Disk

If you're stuck in that unfortunate position (no password and no Password Reset Disk), it's too late too late to create a Password Reset Disk now. Skip down to "Resetting Your Windows 10 Password" if you need to do that now. If you want to create a Reset Disk, continue reading here.

Creating a Windows Password Reset Disk now is a good idea, if you are logged into your Windows account. The Reset Disk contains an encrypted backup of your password, and can be used to easily recover if you ever forget your password. Here’s how to make one:

  • Insert a USB flash drive
  • Click the Start button, type Control Panel then press Enter
  • On the Control Panel window, click "User Accounts"
  • Click "Create a password reset disk".
  • On the Forgotten Password Wizard, click Next.
  • Select the USB drive that you inserted, then click Next.
  • Enter your current account password and click Next.
  • When the wizard finishes click Next, then Finish.

Label the flash drive as “Password Reset” (or maybe “Toe Fungus”) and keep it in a safe place. Anyone who has access to this disk will be able to reset your password.

Resetting Your Windows 10 Password

As I mentioned above, Microsoft will tell you to Reset your PC if you forgot your password, and you don’t have a Password Reset Disk.

But that's not true, and they know it. Resetting your PC is a drastic step that will wipe out your programs, personal files, and settings. If you really want to do that, click the Power icon at the bottom right of the login screen, then hold down the Shift key and click Restart. On the Boot options menu, select "Troubleshoot" then "Reset this PC" and then "Remove everything." Your computer will restart and re-install a fresh copy of Windows.

If you don't want to wipe and reset your computer, there's an unofficial trick which Microsoft has known about for years. The Windows 7 password reset method that I described in “Resetting Forgotten Windows Password” will work to reset the password for a local Windows 10 user account.

Briefly, that technique involves creating a System Repair Disc using another Windows 10 machine to which you have access. Booting from that disc, you will enter the command line and replace the file utilman.exe with cmd.exe, then remove the System Repair Disc and reboot. At the login screen, click the “accessibility features” icon and it will open a command prompt instead of utilman.exe. From the command line, you can reset a user account’s password as described in the Win 7 article.

In fact, if you have a Win 7 System Repair Disc, it will work just fine for Windows 10 surgery, too. Everything described in this article was tested using a Win 7 System Repair Disc.

The one minor difference between Win 7 and Win 10 is that the “accessibility features” icon appears on the login screen’s lower-left corner in Win 7 and the lower-right corner in Win 10. I've read that in some cases, the icon does not appear at all. If that happens, press WinKey+U (the Windows key and U at the same time).

What if you eschewed a Microsoft account and rely on a local password for an administrator account? You can create a new administrator account while you are at the command prompt. Just enter these commands, pressing Enter after each:

net user <username> /add

net localgroup administrators /add

Replace <username> with whatever name you wish to give to the new administrator account; do not include the < and > characters.

Note that this new administrator account is created without assigning a password to it. So when you reboot (after removing the System Repair Disc!) you won’t have to enter a password to access Windows 10 as an administrator. Just click the new username, which will appear in the lower-left corner of the splash screen that appears when Windows 10 loads.

Windows 10 will spend a few minutes setting up the desktop for this new administrator. When that’s done, click on the Start button and scroll down the list of apps to the folder named “Windows Administrative Tools.” Click on that folder and select “Computer Management.

In the folder tree on the left, click “Local Users and Groups” and then “Users.” In the middle pane of the window, highlight the username whose password you have forgotten and right-click. Then click on “Set password.”

You will see a warning popup advising you that changing a user’s password in this way might cause “loss of information.” Or it might now, and who knows what information might be lost; Microsoft doesn’t say. In my experiments, I lost nothing critical. I found I was logged out of Google Mail and some other sites, but it was easy enough to log into them again. All of my apps, settings, and data remained unchanged.

Once you have set a new password for the account in question, restart Windows 10 and log in with the account’s username and new password. Now you’re back in business!

It’s a bad idea to leave unprotected administrator accounts lying around. So go back to that “Users” folder in “Computer Management,” highlight the unprotected account, and click the red X on the toolbar to delete it. You’ll have to be logged in as an administrator to do this, of course.

It’s optional to restore utilman.exe to its original function; instructions are in the Windows 7 articles linked above. I advise you to do so, because leaving that link to cmd.exe on the login screen allows anyone access to the command line; as you have seen, that can give savvy persons access to your Windows account.

For completeness, I’ll mention there is a program called PC Unlocker that can simplify the above process of resetting a Windows password. It’s not free (US $29.99) and I’ve not tried it myself, but it does have good reviews. So that’s another option.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…

 
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Most recent comments on "Forgot Windows 10 Password? Here's How to Reset It"

Posted by:

Karl
23 Mar 2020

Just a wee typo Bob. In line #3...

" I this article, I’ll show you"


Posted by:

Skipper Gaston
23 Mar 2020

Actually, there are several products that I use to reset passwords on computers. Some I paid for, some were free. Windows 10 is sometimes challenging, but usually possible with one or another of the products.


Posted by:

gene
23 Mar 2020

It would be easier to tell us how to retrieve the existing password from the Registry or wherever it is stored locally for those of us who have just the one desktop, live alone, use just one account to access the machine.

I've mine set to bypass having to click anything on reboot as there's only me here and won't be anyone else. I don't sign into my Microsoft account unless I want something from the store. I don't use the search feature really except through Windows Explorer. I use a password manager for everything else and Windows remembers my Microsoft account password just fine. But where IS it stored and why on earth can't I get to that spot on my own machine?

Resetting is a major pain, I did have to do it after a failed attempt to move to 1909, I did manage it finally but had to reset everything to finish it. I had the assistance of a Microsoft Tech, who actually had me reinstall a Home version, so I had to recontact them to get the Pro version back that I'd paid for. I have my password manager password safely stored off the machine, I should be able to do the same with the machine and Microsoft account passwords. This article doesn't go quite far enough.


Posted by:

Russell Ludwig
23 Mar 2020

Followed you procedure to create a password reset disk.
•I Inserted a USB flash drive
•Went to Control Panel. Once there went to User Accounts but there is no option to create a password reset disk. I have the latest version of Windows on my computer has Microsoft eliminated this option?


Posted by:

Harry
23 Mar 2020

reply to gene - the password is in the registry, but not in a readable form. The best any password recovery tool can do is to blank it out. I prefer Bob's Utilman method. If that's too difficult, at least get your data off the PC before rebuilding. You can get to the command prompt with the shift+restart method, or make a bootable W10 thumb drive with Microsoft's Media Creation Tool. Booting from the thumb/flash drive requires you to press the one-time boot order key. Then use the built in "copy" command, or better still, robocopy. Be sure get get all of your sub-directory's files too. There's more to this, but the main point is "don't lose your data". Better yet, use the Utilman method.


Posted by:

Michael Curti
23 Mar 2020

In my Windows 10 with latest updates, there is no "Create a password reset disk" in the "User Account" screen. While in the "User Account" screen, I typed "Create a password reset disk" in the search box, and a popup with "Create a password reset disk" appeared. I clicked on it and successfully created the password reset disk.


Posted by:

Ray McDonald
23 Mar 2020

Anyone have any experience or suggestions for retrieving lost password for Thunderbird?
Thank you


Posted by:

Phil
23 Mar 2020

I have the same problem as Russel and Michael. But no joy with Michael's solution. Can you help?


Posted by:

Bernie
23 Mar 2020

In the past, with Windows 7, I have used a Linux disk to do the dirty. Knoppix Linux even has a method for doing it.


Posted by:

Ken
23 Mar 2020

No option to create a password reset disk.


Posted by:

Joe H
23 Mar 2020

@ Ray McDonald -- It's spelled out here:
https://www.systoolsgroup.com/password-recovery/thunderbird.html


Posted by:

Renaud Olgiati
23 Mar 2020

Without spending a dime, download the .iso for Knoppix Linux live DVD and burn it on a disk or a USB.

Boot Knoppix, and follow the instructions on https://www.top-password.com/blog/tutorial-reset-windows-password-with-knoppix/


Posted by:

Steve Stover
23 Mar 2020

Computer Management->Local Users and Groups->Users does not exist on my machine. I believe this feature may be missing from the Home version of Windows 10.


Posted by:

Bob S
23 Mar 2020

Like others are saying, that option to create a password reset disk has dissapeared on my computer, W10 Pro, Version 1909 (OS Build 18363.657). It does not bring up any wizard. Instead it brings up "Make changes to your user account". When I type "password reset" into the start menu, it comes up but clicking it does nothing.


Posted by:

fbgcai
23 Mar 2020

For those folks where there is no option to create password reset disk put that phrase ("password reset disk" ) into the search box in the upper right corner and it goes to the appropriate spot. My question I've created now how does on use it?


Posted by:

fbgcai
23 Mar 2020

that would be in control panel - sorry left that out


Posted by:

fbgcai
23 Mar 2020

sorry for the disjointed responses - I found this little video that shows how to create and use a password reset disk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ep77t4QYS8


Posted by:

Fred G.
24 Mar 2020

This is one tiny aspect of why I detest personal computers. How much B.S. do you have to go through and how much of your time/life do you have to spend(waste) for the 'benefits' you get?

And this password thing is just the tip of the iceberg. I have lost count of how many hundreds of hours of my life I have wasted trying to fix my computer and related gadgets every time there is a 'glitch'. If I was rich, I would just have the computer store "fix it" or better yet, never use a computer myself but just have my "people" do everything.

I can say this: If motor vehicles were as complicated to use as computers, EVERYONE would be riding a bicycle.

For business applications (companies with computer systems, factories, etc.) paid professionals maintain those machines - it's their full-time JOB. But the average computer user (Bob Rankin follower) has to contend with a myriad of details as evidenced by the countless articles Bob publishes. When is this [computer]insanity going to end?


Posted by:

Greg O.
30 Mar 2020

Created a Windows 7 Recovery disk in Windows 7. Windows 10 does not see it as a boot option within UEFI even though Secure boot is disabled. Booting my Laplink Recovery CD see available and works fine. Doesn't matter of Secure boot is enabled or not. UEFI sees it.


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