User accounts: Frequently asked questions
Here are answers to some common questions about user accounts.
A user account determines how you interact with your PC and personalize it. For example, your account determines which files and folders you can access, the changes you can make to the PC, and your personal preferences, such as your desktop background or screen saver. If you create separate accounts for other people, they don't have to share the same settings, which means you can restrict access to your files, folders, and even give different desktop backgrounds to other accounts.
There are three types of accounts. Each type gives you a different level of control over the PC:
Administrator accounts provide the most control over a PC, and should be used sparingly. You probably created this type of account when you first started using your PC.
Standard accounts are for everyday use. If you're setting up accounts for other people on your PC, it's a good idea to give them standard accounts.
Guest accounts are useful when people need to use a PC temporarily.
You can turn on your PC's guest account in Control Panel.
Yes. The first time you set up Windows, you created a user account. This account is automatically an administrator account, so that you can finish setting up your PC and install any programs that you would like to use. When you add other accounts to your PC, however, they'll usually be standard accounts. Standard accounts are best for everyday use. The sign-in screen in Windows shows what accounts are available on the PC.
In Windows 8 and Windows RT, when you create either a standard or an administrator account, you can also choose two ways to sign in:
With a user name. Signing in with a user name (with or without a password) lets you access files, settings, and apps on just your local PC.
With an email address as your user name. Signing in with an email address and password lets you access your favorite apps and your unique settings and preferences on any PC.
Your email address and your password together act as a Microsoft account. For more info on the benefits of signing in with a Microsoft account, see Which user account is right for me?
If you're signing in to just your local PC, no. However, it's a good idea to keep your PC more secure by using a strong password. When you use a password, only someone who knows it can sign in.
If you're an administrator, you can easily add user accounts through PC settings. For instructions, see Create a user account.
If you have more than one user account on your PC, you can switch to a different account without signing out or closing apps. To switch to a different account, follow these steps:
Open Start by swiping in from the right edge of the screen (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen and moving the mouse pointer down), and then tapping or clicking Start.
Tap or click your account picture, and then choose another account from the menu.
Yes. If you're an administrator, you can change someone's password or their account type. For more info, see Change your password.