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How to find Windows logon passwords
With the arrival of Windows 10, forgotten password recovery has become much easier, particularly if we have associated a Microsoft account with login. If we do not have an associated account (so we are using a local account) we can still use the old methods to recover or delete the login password.
Password account Microsoft
If we have added a Microsoft account to Windows 10 but have forgotten the password or PIN to access the computer, we can reset the password of the Microsoft account to access the PC again. First, let’s make sure the PC is connected to the Internet (via Ethernet cable or via Wi-Fi), turn on another computer or open any browser on our smartphone or tablet and reach the official Microsoft page.
On the page that opens, press the Login button, enter the username (usually the Outlook email already used in the past) and, when prompted, click on Forgot password?; now all that remains is to follow the steps to correctly reset the system password. The procedure involves clicking on a link from a secondary email, answering some security questions, or providing a code via SMS received on the registered phone number. If we don’t even remember the username we open the login screen again, press on the item Access options, and follow the instructions provided in order to recover lost access.
After changing the Microsoft password, let’s go to the laptop or PC with Windows 10 locked, press again on the user account we want to access and use the new password we set up a little while ago so that we can access the computer again.
To learn more, we recommend reading our guide Retrieve Windows 10 password or PIN from the lock screen. To make Windows login passwords stronger and avoid external intrusions, we can read our How to guide Generate strong and rememberable passwords for all websites.
Restore via an Administrator account
Among the hidden users on PCs with Windows, we also find a user named Administrator, which is not even shown on the Windows login screen. The Administrator user, on the other hand, exists and, as the name suggests, has all possible privileges in the use of a Windows system: he can therefore enter a computer and also change the passwords of local accounts on the computer.
Before getting blocked it is, therefore, advisable to immediately unlock this hidden administrator and assign a password that we will surely remember at any time or moment, but difficult enough for other people to guess: if one of the PC users forgets the password, the Administrator account can always come to the rescue.
To activate the Administrator account (before being locked out) log in with any account to the computer (using local accounts with administrative rights and not simple accounts), right-click on the Start button at the bottom left, press on the item Windows PowerShell (Administrator), confirm in the warning window and type the following command:
net user administrator /active:yes
The Administrator account is now active and will be available at login; to increase security we immediately assign a password to this secret and powerful account, always typing the following from the PowerShell prompt:
net user administrator password
Instead of the word password obviously, we choose our personal password, to be jealously guarded (losing access to this account is deleterious so better choose secure passwords but easy to remember). At the next login, we will see the user appear, Administrator, ready to intervene in case we forget the access password for user accounts; from the Administrator account, we can act to change the passwords as seen in our article How to change Windows 10 password.
To learn more we can read our guide Activate the administrator account in Windows 10.
Other methods to find login passwords
If we have a simple local account on Windows 10 or we are using Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 on our computer, we can try to recover the password with some hacking tools, available for many years and always very effective. We remind you that it is possible to remove forgotten passwords only from local accounts: if there is a Microsoft account for the login, the encryption will prevent any access recovery, we will have to proceed as seen a few chapters ago.
Among the best tools to recover the Windows login password, we mention Offline registry tools and password resetter.
This disk tool has a size of approx 3 Mb and it is little more than one script bash asking a series of questions to fulfill the task of recover or reset a windows password including that of the administrator. The system also contains a windows registry editor and, necessarily, four virtual consoles bootable via ALT + F1 – F4.
Without making changes, without changing passwords or resetting them, we can log in to Windows or Linux computers without a password with Kon Boot.
This program also works on Linux, not discovering the password but removing it from active accounts on the PC, both for normal users and administrators, without making differences and discriminations. With this program you can, if you want to provide support in case friends or relatives forget the password to log into Windows.
Another very effective tool is OphCrack.
It is a much more massive distribution, around 450 Mb. With this Live-CD we can completely isolate the operating system and recover the password of any locked local Windows account; Account password recovery time varies and can be up to 30 minutes in difficult cases. To use all the tools listed above we can always follow the same steps: after downloading these Live distributions, you have to burn them to a blank CD or a USB Pendrive and restart the PC, taking care to change the boot settings in BIOS / UEFI The change the boot order to enter the media chosen for recovery.
Once inside the Live system, we follow the instructions provided to be able to reset or delete Windows login passwords and access systems and personal files.
Finding the access passwords (login) on a Windows PC even as an administrator is really very simple and there is a method for each type of account that can be added to the system: for Microsoft accounts it is convenient to act directly online by changing the access password to Microsoft (consequently the one to access the PC will also change), while for local accounts we can use either the Administrator account (prudently activated previously) or one of the tools that reset the Windows password in a few seconds.
To learn more about the system access password, we invite you to read our guides How to create a new Windows administrator before the PC starts e reset the Windows password.