Passwords in Windows: FAQ

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I don't have my password. What do I do?

If you forget or lose your password, there are several things you can try to reset or recover it. For more info, see What to do if you forget your Windows password.

If you think your password has been compromised or stolen by someone with malicious intent, we can help. For more info, see Get back into your Microsoft account if it's been blocked or hacked.

Can I sign in without a password?

If you're signing in to only your local PC, yes. However, we recommend that you 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 want to sign in to Windows with a Microsoft account, a password is required. For more info, see Can I sign in to Windows without a password? To learn more about Microsoft accounts and local accounts, see Create a user account.

How do I create a strong password?

Stronger passwords contain a variety of characters, including uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols or spaces. A strong password should also be something that is difficult for a stranger to guess or crack. It shouldn't contain a complete word, or easy-to-find details like your real name, your user name, or your birth date.

If you're signing in to a Microsoft account, your password is limited to 16 characters. For more info about Microsoft accounts, see Create a user account.

How do I change my password?

You can update your password regularly to keep it more secure.

If your PC isn't connected to a domain, follow these steps:

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click Accounts, and then tap or click Sign-in options.

  3. Tap or click Change your password and follow the instructions.

If your PC is connected to a domain, your system administrator might manage how frequently you must change your password. To do so, choose one of the following:

  • If you're using a keyboard, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, tap or click Change a password, and follow the instructions.

  • If you're using a tablet, press and hold the Windows button, press the power button, and then tap or click Change a password and follow the instructions.

Does my Microsoft account password affect the password on my email account?

It depends on whether you're using a third-party email address. If your email address ends in outlook.com, hotmail.com, live.com, or another Microsoft service, changing the password for your Microsoft account also changes it for that email service.

But you can use any email address for your Microsoft account, even an email address from a third-party web-based mail service like Google Mail or Yahoo! Mail. When you choose a password for your Microsoft account, it doesn't change the password you might need to use to sign in to web mail on a third-party site.

How do I sign in with a picture password?

Create a picture password to sign in with gestures instead of by entering characters.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click Accounts, and then tap or click Sign-in options.

  3. Under Picture password, tap or click Add, and then follow the instructions.

How can I remember my password?

When you choose a password for your user account, it's important to pick something you can remember. You're going to need it again later!

Of course, you can also write your password down and keep it in a safe place. Taped to the underside of your laptop or the inside of your desk drawer is probably not a good idea, however. If you do write your password down, be sure to keep it separate from your PC.

For added security, use different passwords for different purposes. For example, it's a good idea to keep distinctly different passwords for a social networking account and your online bank account.

If you do forget or lose your password, there are still several things you can try to reset or recover it. For more info, see What to do if you forget your Windows password.