How to Set Up Accounts and Passwords on Windows 8
Just as with previous versions of this operating system, setting up accounts and passwords with Windows 8 is quick and easy. But there are new features you should know about. Windows 8 enables you to set up a different user account for each person who uses the computer. These accounts keep your stuff separate from everyone else’s stuff, including documents and programs, desktop and Start-menu configuration, Internet Explorer favorites, and more. This means everyone can customize Windows 8 to their heart’s content without foisting their tastes on anyone else. Here’s how you do it.
Understanding User Accounts
In a sense, a user account gives everyone their own version of Windows 8 that they can muck around with as they see fit. This includes the following:
- Customization options, such as colors, desktop background, screen saver, and Start-screen customizations.
- Favorite websites defined in Internet Explorer.
- Email accounts set up in the Mail app or Windows Live Mail.
Not only that, Windows 8 also supports a feature called fast user switching; what this means is that different users can switch in and out of Windows but leave their programs running. For example, suppose little Alphonse is blowing away some aliens and Dad needs to check his email. In the old days, Alphonse would have to shut down his game so that Dad could log on and run his email program. In Windows 8, Alphonse can leave his game running while Dad switches to his account and does his email duties. Alphonse can then switch back right away and resume doing nasty things to strange creatures.
The last thing you need to know before getting started is that Windows 8 offers two different user account types:
- Administrator. This type of account has wide (but not complete) access to the computer. An administrator can install any type of program or device; make changes that affect the entire system; and add, change, and delete user accounts. Note, however, that the administrator can’t examine the private documents of any other user.
- Standard user. This type of account has access to only some of the computer’s features. A standard user can view his own files, view those files that have been set up to be shared with other users, perform his own customizations, and change his password.
In Windows 8, there’s only one administrator account, and that’s whatever account you set up when you went through the initial Windows 8 configuration. Every other account you create (as described next) is automatically a standard user.
Creating a New Account
When you or some suitably savvy geek set up Windows 8 on your computer, the installation program asked for the name of a user. Windows 8 then set up an administrator account for that person. If you’re the administrator, then you’re free to add more accounts as you see fit.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Press Windows+W to open the handy Settings search pane.
- Type users and then click Users in the search results. The PC Settings app shows up and courteously displays the Users tab for you.
- Click Add a user. This launches the Add a User screen.
- Click Sign in without a Microsoft account.
- Click Local account.
- Use the User name text box to enter a name for the user.
- Use the Password text box to type the password for the user. (Note that you see a bunch of dots, instead of the actual characters you type. This is a security feature to prevent someone from spying the password.)
- Use the Reenter password text box to type the password once again. If you’re not sure if you typed the password exactly the same, click and hold the Display Characters icon, which displays your characters. Release the mouse button to restore the security dots.
Use this screen to type the new user’s name and password.
- Use the Password hint text box to enter a password hint. This word or phrase is accessible in the sign-on screen and is visible to all; therefore, make the hint as vague as possible while still being useful to you if you forget your password.
- Click Next. Windows 8 creates the new account.
- If you’re setting up an account for one of your kids, consider activating the Is this a child’s account? check box. This will save you a step down the road when you set up Family Safety for your kids.
- Click Finish.
Protecting Your Kids with Family Safety
If you have children who share your computer (how brave of you!), or if you’re setting up a computer for their use, it’s wise to take precautions regarding the content and programs that they can access. Locally, this might take the form of blocking access to certain programs (such as your financial software), using ratings to control which games they can play, and setting time limits on when the computer is used.
All of this sounds daunting, but never fear: Windows 8’s Family Safety feature makes it relatively easy to set all aforementioned options and a lot more.
Before you begin, be sure to create a standard user account for each child who will use the computer. Once that’s done, you set up Family Safety by following these steps:
- Press Windows+W to open the Settings search pane.
- Type family and then click Set Up Family Safety for any user in the search results.
- Click the user you want to work with to get to the User Settings page.
- Activate the option On, enforce current settings. This enables the Web Filtering, Time Limits, Windows Store and Game Restriction, and App Restrictions links in the Windows Settings area.
Activate the On, enforce current settings option to turn on parental controls.
- Use the following links in the Settings area to set up the specific controls for this user (in each case, when you’re done, click User Settings to return to the User Settings window):
- Web filtering. Click this link to display the Web Filtering window, and then click the User can only use the websites I allow option (where User is the account you chose in Step 3). Now you can allow or block specific websites, set up general site restrictions (such as Child-Friendly websites only), and block file downloads.
- Time limits. Click this link to display the Time Limits page. Click Curfew, then click User can only use the PC during the time range I allow option (where User is the account you chose in Step 3). This shows a grid where each square represents an hour during the day for each day of the week. Click the squares to block computer usage during selected times.
- Windows Store and game restrictions. Click this link to display the Game and Windows Store Restrictions page, and then click the User can only use the games and Windows Store apps that I allow option (where User is the account you chose in Step 3). Now you can restrict games and apps based on ratings and contents, and block or allow specific games.
- App restrictions. Click this link to display the Application Restrictions page, and then click the User can only use the apps I allow option (where User is the account you chose in Step 3). This displays a list of the programs on your computer. Click the check boxes for the programs you want to allow the person to use.
Now that you know how to create user accounts and passwords on Windows 8, it’s time to start customizing and protecting your computers. Good luck!
From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Microsoft Windows 8 by Paul McFedries