Microsoft accounts

One email address to sign in everywhere

A Microsoft account is an email address and password that you use to sign in to Windows. It's free and easy to set up, and you can do so with any email address you choose, or get a new email address. (For example, you can use an Outlook.com, Gmail, or Yahoo! address for your Microsoft account.)

When you sign in to your PC or device with a Microsoft account, you can get apps from the Windows Store, back up all your important data and files using free cloud storage, and keep all your favorite stuff—devices, photos, friends, games, settings, music, and so on—up to date and in sync.

If more than one person uses your PC, each person should have their own account. They can sign in and personalize the PC with their own background colors, favorite apps, account picture, a separate email inbox, and more. If you have kids, you can also set up a child's account with extra security monitoring measures—with or without email—so that your kids see only what you want them to see on the PC.

If you’ve used Microsoft services in the past—like Xbox, Hotmail, Outlook.com, OneDrive, Messenger, Skype, or Windows Phone—you already have a Microsoft account (it's the email address you use to sign in). If you can't remember the email address you used with those services, that's okay—you can sign up for a new, free email address.

To check whether you're signed in with a Microsoft account

  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 Your account.

The Your account screen for someone signed in with a Microsoft account

If you're already signed in with a Microsoft account, your name and email address appear above your account picture.

The Your account screen for someone signed in with a local account

If you're signed in with a local account, you'll see the words Local Account below your name, along with the Connect to a Microsoft account link.

Signing in with a Microsoft account

If you're signed in to your PC with a local account, there are several ways you can switch to a Microsoft account on your PC. 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.) Tap or click Accounts, tap or click Your account, and then tap or click Connect to a Microsoft account. You might be asked to verify your current password. Then, choose one of the following:

Option 1: Connect to an existing Microsoft account

Even if you’re not signed in to your PC with a Microsoft account, you might already have one if you use other Microsoft services like Xbox, Hotmail, Outlook.com, or Skype. Your Microsoft account is the email address you use to sign in to those services.

Enter the email address and password you use to sign in to other Microsoft services, tap or click Next, and follow the instructions.

Connect your local account to an existing Microsoft account

Option 2: Sign up with the email address you use most often

If you haven’t used Microsoft services in the past, you can use any email address you want to sign up for a new Microsoft account, including addresses from Outlook.com, Yahoo! or Gmail. To use your favorite email address:

  1. Enter the email address you want to use, and then tap or click Create a new account.

  2. Follow the instructions to fill out your personal and security info, and you're all set.

Sign up for a Microsoft account using your favorite email address

Option 3: Get a new email address

If you want to start fresh and get a brand-new email address to use as your Microsoft account, you can get one for free:

  1. Tap or click Create a new account.

  2. Follow the instructions to fill out your personal and security info for a new email address, and you're ready to go.

Get a Microsoft account with a brand-new email address
Tip

Have kids? Give each child their own account, so they can enjoy the PC without changing your settings or getting into your email. Learn more about setting up a child's account.

You've got a Microsoft account. Now what?

Your Microsoft account is your key to free online storage, mobile entertainment, apps in the Windows Store, other Microsoft products and services (like Xbox Live or a Windows Phone), and connecting your devices and accounts seamlessly. All you have to do is sign in to your PC with your Microsoft account. Then you can do these things:

Windows Store homepage

Get apps from the Windows Store

You need a Microsoft account and Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8, or Windows RT to get apps from the Windows Store. You can even install your apps on multiple PCs without buying them again.

People Hub with contacts displayed

Bring people together

Link your Facebook, Twitter, Outlook, and LinkedIn accounts to the People app, and you'll see your friends' contact info and status updates in one place.

Sync your settings page in PC settings

Sync your settings

Get your colors and themes, Start screen layout, browser favorites and history, content in your apps, photos, and even settings like languages and other preferences on multiple PCs when you sign in with a Microsoft account and sync your settings.

OneDrive app showing documents and files in the cloud

Get free storage in the cloud

With a Microsoft account, you get free file storage in the cloud with OneDrive, a place to see, save, and share your documents and photos. Your Microsoft account links your PC to OneDrive, so your files are always with you.

Perfect for work and play

Get more done and have more fun with a Windows 8.1 PC.

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