Watch a video about how to create a user account. (To view captions in your language, tap or click the Closed captioning button Closed Captioning button.)

You need a user account to use Windows, and if you share a single PC with other people, each person should have their own account. Each person can customize their account with their own settings and preferences, like a desktop background or screen saver. User accounts also help control which files and apps each person can use and what changes they can make to the PC.

When you create a user account, you can choose between two types of accounts: a local account for that PC or a Microsoft account, which works on all the Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 PCs you use. We recommend using a Microsoft account.

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Create a Microsoft account

A Microsoft account is an email address and password that you use to sign in to Windows. You can use any email address, but it's best if you choose the one you already use to communicate with friends and sign in to your favorite websites. When you sign in to your PC with a Microsoft account, you’ll connect your PC to the people, files, and devices you care about. (If you need an email address, we can give you one for free.)

When you sign in with a Microsoft account, your PC is connected to cloud storage online. This means that:

  • Your personal settings are synced to any Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 PCs you sign in to with that account, including your themes, language preferences, browser favorites, and most apps.

  • You can get apps in the Windows Store and use them on up to five Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 PCs. (Some apps require specific hardware or hardware settings.)

  • Your friends’ contact info and status stays up to date from places like Outlook.com, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

  • You can get to and share your photos, documents, and other files from places like OneDrive, Facebook, and Flickr.

To create 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 Other accounts.

  3. Tap or click Add an account.

  4. Enter the account info for this person to sign in to Windows. There are four ways to do this:

    • If the person you're adding already has a Microsoft account, enter it now.

    • If the person you're adding doesn't have a Microsoft account, you can use their email address to create one. Enter the email address that person uses most frequently.

    • If the person you're adding doesn't have an email address, tap or click Sign up for a new email address. It's free.

    • If the person you're adding is a child, tap or click Add a child's account.

  5. Follow the instructions to finish setting up the account.

Note

  • If you're having problems with your Microsoft account, you can try running the Microsoft Accounts troubleshooter. It's an automated tool that can find and automatically fix some problems. It's only available in English, but will work in all languages.

Create a local account

A local account is an account that lets you sign in to only one PC. If you create a local account, you’ll need a separate account for each PC you use. None of your settings will be synced between the Windows 8.1 PCs you use, and you won’t get the benefits of connecting your PC to your files, settings, apps, and services online in the cloud and accessible from anywhere. You also won't be able to download apps from the Windows Store without a Microsoft account.

To create a local 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 Other accounts.

  3. Tap or click Add an account, and then tap or click Sign in without a Microsoft account (not recommended).

  4. Tap or click Local account.

  5. Enter a user name for the new account.

  6. If you want this person to sign in with a password, enter and verify the password, add a password hint, and then tap or click Next.

    If your PC is on a domain, depending on the domain's security settings, you might be able to skip this step and tap or click Next, if you prefer.

  7. Tap or click Finish.