You need to sign into your Windows 10 or Windows 11 PC, but you forgot your password. Don't worry. Both operating systems let you reset a forgotten password, whether you use a Microsoft Account or a local account.
Resetting a Microsoft Account password is fairly straightforward. But for a local account, you must have already set up a few security questions and answers. If you forget your password, simply answer the three questions successfully and then reset your password. Another option is to create a password reset disk, which you can do on any USB stick.
Beyond using a password, you should enable a backup authentication method of signing into Windows. With Windows 10 and 11, you can create a PIN, a picture password, a security key, fingerprint recognition, or facial recognition. And with a Microsoft Account, you should also implement two-step verification(Opens in a new window). But at some point you may still need to sign in with a password.
No matter how responsible you are, there may come a time when you’re locked out of Windows because you can’t remember your password. Here's how to get in.
Microsoft Account Recovery in Windows
If you’re using a Microsoft Account and can’t remember your password, click I forgot my password on the Windows 10 or 11 sign-in screen.
You must then confirm your email address and choose how you wish to receive your verification code. Click Get code, then check your email or text messages for the code. Enter it in the appropriate field and click Next.
Create a new password for your Microsoft Account. Click Next.
Windows confirms that the password has been changed. Click the Sign in button, return to the sign-in screen, and enter your new password.
Microsoft Account Recovery Online
If you bump into any trouble attempting to reset your password directly in Windows, you can try resetting it online. Open the Microsoft Account website(Opens in a new window) in a browser on a different PC or a mobile device and click the Sign in button.
At the next screen, type your email address and click Next.
At the screen to enter your password, click the link for Forgot password.
At the next screen, enter an alternative email address through which you can reset your password. If you don’t have one, create a new address using Hotmail.com or Outlook.com. Type the CAPTCHA characters and click Next.
Enter the code sent to your alternative email address and click Verify.
The next screen asks you to confirm certain details about your account, such as your name, date of birth, and location. Fill in as many details as you can and then click Next.
The next screen asks for further details, such as previous passwords and your history with Microsoft products. Again, fill in as much information as you can. Click Next.
The next screen asks for the email addresses of any contacts as well as subject lines you may have used in emails. Fill out the information and click Next.
If you haven’t provided enough details, you’ll receive a notice asking you to add more information. Otherwise, you should receive a notice indicating that an email will be sent to your alternative address to recover your account. Click OK.
The email will include a link for resetting your password. Click it, enter the email address for the account with the forgotten password, and click Next.
Type and then retype a new password. Click Next. You’ll receive a notice that your password has been changed. Click the Sign in button to sign into your account online. Otherwise, return to Windows 10 or 11 to sign in.
Local Account Recovery
Microsoft has made it increasingly difficult to use a local account with Windows 10 and especially Windows 11, but it's still possible. If you have this type of account, one of the first things you should do is set up the necessary security questions that will help you reset your password and recover your account in the future.
If you’re installing or resetting Windows 10 or 11 and choose a local account, you’re required to create the security questions and answers during the setup process. At the screen for Now add security questions, click the drop-down box and select your first question. Type the answer and click Next.
Do the same for the second and third questions. Click Next and you can then move to the next screen in the setup process until you complete it.
What if you’ve already installed Windows and need to set up the security questions or you want to change the questions and answers? You’re able to do that in Windows 10 easily enough. Go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Click the option for password and then select the link for Update your security questions.
Enter the password for your local account, choose your security questions, type the answers, and click Finish.
In Windows 11, there is no visible option for updating your security questions. However, there is an unofficial workaround using a manual command. Press the Win key + R. In the Open field of the Run as dialog box, type or paste the following command: ms-cxh://setsqsalocalonly. Click OK.
Type the password for your local account. You can now update your security questions. When done, click Finish.
Now let’s say you forget the password for your local account. At the sign-in screen, click the arrow next to the password field or press the Enter key. Windows tells you that the password is incorrect. Click OK and then select Reset password.
Enter the answers for your security questions and then click the arrow next to the last answer or press Enter.
Windows prompts you to create a new password. Type and confirm your new password and press Enter to get access to Windows.
Create a Password Reset Disk
Beyond the security questions, a second way to reset a forgotten password for a local account is through a password reset disk. This is another option you’d have to set up beforehand but is simple as it requires only a USB stick.
To set this up, sign into Windows 10 or 11 with your local account. Plug a USB stick into your computer. Launch Control Panel in icon view. Click the applet for User Accounts and then click the link for Create a password reset disk. At the first Forgotten Password Wizard screen, click Next.
At the next screen, confirm the USB stick you want to use. Click Next.
At the next screen, type the password for your local account. Click Next.
After the process shows 100% completion, click Next and then click Finish.
Now we’re in the future. You’ve forgotten your password and don’t remember the security answers. But you have your trusty reset disk, or rather USB stick. With the stick plugged in, press enter at the password prompt and click the link for Reset password. At the next screen, click the link for Use a password reset disk instead. At the Password Reset Wizard, click Next.
Confirm that the USB stick is connected and click Next.
At the next screen, type and then retype a new password. Enter a hint. Click Next.
Click Cancel at the security questions screen to return to the sign-in screen. Then log in with your new password.
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