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How to Reset Your Windows Password Without an Install CD

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If you’ve forgotten your Windows password and you don’t have an install CD laying around, there’s no need to worry. Not only are there half a dozen complicated ways to reset the password, you can do it easily with the Offline Windows Password editor.

Of course, if you do have a Windows CD, you can reset your password the easy way with a simple trick.

Note: this should work on all versions of Windows, but if you are running Windows 8 or 8.1 and also using a Microsoft Account to login to your computer, you’ll need to reset your Microsoft Account password using a web browser on their web site.

Create the Boot Disk

You’ll need to create a boot disk using another PC. If you don’t have another PC, you’ll have to bug one of your friends to use theirs. First, you’ll need to download the boot disk from here:

Download the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor

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Then download and launch ImgBurn, which is a really simple piece of software that helps you burn an ISO image to a disk. Note: if you have some other application for burning an ISO image, you can use that instead.

Choose the Source, click the burn button, and create the boot disk.

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You could also create a bootable USB drive instead if you’d like, the instructions are on the Offline NT download site.

Resetting Your Windows Password

Boot your PC from the boot disk (you might have to adjust the BIOS to allow booting from the CD). You’ll be prompted at a couple of screens, which you can generally just hit the Enter key at. For instance, this screen asks if you want to select the first partition, and [1] is already selected, so just hit Enter.

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The same thing happens at the next step, where you have to choose the path to your registry. The default is fine, so hit Enter.

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Next you can choose whether to use password reset or some other thing, so just hit Enter for password reset.

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Next you’ll be prompted whether you want to edit users or the registry. You want to edit user passwords, so hit Enter again.

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And now, the first screen where you’ll need to do something other than hit the Enter key. In this case, you’ll want to type the username that you want to reset. In my case, this was “geek”, so I just typed that (without the quotes). Then hit Enter.

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Now you’ll want to probably just blank the password, which is already selected, so hit the Enter key again (you can always change it once you’re back in Windows).

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And now, you’ll have to save what you just did. So type an exclamation point to quit (or the “!” symbol), then type the letter “y” to save.

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At this point it should say “EDIT COMPLETE”, and you can reboot your computer. You should be able to login without any problems—just make sure to go set a new password.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/3/11

Comments (26)

  1. Malessa

    Where is your PRINT button to print your articles?

  2. BigJohn

    It’s part of your browser.

  3. Gulshan

    So what good is a password on a windows computer anymore? Anyone could carry around a bootable USB drive and within minutes get into your account. Of course, if the goal is stealth rather than simply stealing a laptop, then there are some drawbacks to this, but it’s still effective.

  4. Kevin

    WOW! I could have used this when I was teaching a computer class, and 3 students forgot thier password after a break.

  5. Mathew

    @Gulshan: Once someone can physically lay their hands on your computer, it’s pretty much over – it’s always been this way, but publicizing that fact isn’t in computer makers’ best interest. If you’re really worried about your data – especially on a laptop – the only real solution is to encrypt your hard drive. A great free drive encryption tool is TrueCrypt (there’s about 25 articles about TrueCrypt on how-to geek if you’re interested).

    Other than that, you can take a small amount of solace in the fact that most people think computers operate on the same principles in play at Hogwarts, so having Average Joe get at your computer isn’t a big worry.

  6. Martin Hack

    Tried this on Vista and it did not work, even though all steps were completed.

  7. Jim

    Martin Hack,

    You probably have to do this on all registry locations. What did it look like in step 2?

  8. Darren

    Does this also allow you to enable a disabled account (IE Windows 7 administrator)?

  9. Max

    WAAAAAY TOO MUCH WORK. Create a Hirens’ Boot Disc USB – it does all that above and so much more!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Adrian

    @ Max

    Do Hirens Disc password tools work with 64-bit OS??

    Last time I checked, those tools were 32-bit compatible only.

    I find both ways easy

  11. Jason W

    this is a default boot option with UBCD4win

  12. Peterjon S.

    Thank god it worked. WINDOWS 2003 server so happy now

  13. Hamburger

    I have been using this program for a while now. Its not much work, only takes me about 1 minute to reset the password on clients computers. If its not working then make sure you are reseting the password on the correct user account, not just the default one. Many times I see variations of the same names as wel so I reset all use accounts since the client will be creating new passwords anyways. Great program and great walkthrough. Simple and straight forward.
    Hirens is also a decent utility, this one is just faster for me so I just use it.

  14. Martin Hack

    JIM,
    Step two looked exactly as above.

  15. Scubaguy

    I can boot windows OK, but my problem is restoring my password for network identification. I want to network two PC’s and perhaps 3. All 3 PC’s are run from the same wired router. Windows has all the setups OK on my main PC and I can see the 2nd PC but I can’t log into it to hookup. Any ideas??

  16. Scubaguy

    By the way – FURTHER INFO:

    PC #1 HAS Windows Vista Pro
    PC #2 has Windows Vista home
    PC#3 has Windows 2000

  17. 6EQUJ5day

    Ok it works… but try to clear the password from an account with folders saved/protected as private (windows encryption)!!! Your data will be lost forever…(this is true for all password cleaners)

    Also try to promote a non administrator account to administrator and then try to delete it or down grade the administrators privileges… just forget it.

    Do you know what is “planted” deeply inside of windows registry?
    If you’re not a windows expert use this hack with extremely caution or choose other CD, Hiren’s boot for instance.

  18. Jamie

    Stick Keys method is so much easier… Google it, All you need is access to the hard drive or a bootable disk to rename a file on the hard drive and then turn the computer back on and press the shift key 5 times. Then you get a cmd prompt with full SYSTEM administrator access. then just use the net user command to reset the password.

  19. danu

    tumahri maa ka bhosda………………….kamino koi ek ellaj to bata do…………..

  20. mitu

    really good one.

  21. Ashok

    @Geek

    i wonder how you take screenshots while booting and login etc ,
    i suspect your camera to be the culprit . am i correct ,
    or do u have any super camera with which u do these !

  22. techuth

    That is cool information

  23. Glen Blankenship

    What is a program that will remove Trojan that screws with the memory on startup. I have tried the free version of AVG and it will remove parts of it but some seems out of reach of it. The Trojan will not allow windows to fully activate. If I cannot remove the virus, how can I format the harddrive and then reinstall the windows 7 without an install disc?

  24. avinash

    how to recover from boot MGR?

  25. Fernando F.

    Olá, eu tenho 2 HDs externos, e gostaria de colocar “senha” para acessá-los. É possivel ?
    SDS

  26. TFace

    Is it much better to just bypass the password in login screen rather than resetting it?

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