How-To Geek

How to Disable the Lock Workstation Functionality (Window+L) in Windows

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By default, using the Windows+L key combination locks Windows, so you have to re-type your password to use the computer. If you find yourself occasionally hitting that combination by accident—and you don’t really have a need to lock Windows—here’s how to disable it.

Versions of Windows going back to at least Windows 2000 have given you the ability to lock your workstation. Since the Windows XP days, the easiest way to do the locking is by pressing Windows+L, though you can also press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and lock your PC from the page that comes up or choose the “Lock” command on the Start menu. You can even create a shortcut for locking Windows. When you lock your PC, it immediately returns you to the sign in screen, but unlike signing out, all your open apps and windows remain intact. It’s much like when your PC goes to sleep, assuming you have it set to ask for a password when you return. To disable locking your PC in Windows 7, 8, or 10, you just need to perform a quick hack in the Registry or Local Group Policy Editor.

Home Users: Disable Windows Lock by Editing the Registry

If you have a Windows Home edition, you will have to edit the Windows Registry to make these changes. You can also do it this way if you have Windows Pro or Enterprise, but feel more comfortable working in the Registry than Group Policy Editor. (If you have Pro or Enterprise, though, we recommend using the easier Group Policy Editor, as described in the next section.)

Standard warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and misusing it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a pretty simple hack and as long as you stick to the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. That said, if you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.

To get started, open the Registry Editor by hitting Start and typing “regedit.” Press Enter to open Registry Editor and give it permission to make changes to your PC.

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In the Registry Editor, use the left sidebar to navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\

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Next, you’re going to create a new key inside the Policies key. Right-click the Policies key and choose New > Key. Name the new key “System.” Note that if you already have a System key there, you can just skip this step.

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Now, you need to create a new value inside the System key you just created. Right-click the System key and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the new value “DisableLockWorkstation.”

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Next, double-click the new DisableLockWorkstation value to open its properties window. Change the value from 0 to 1 in the “Value data” box to enable the new key, which in turn disables the lock workstation functionality.

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You can now close Registry Editor. The changes take place immediately, so no need to restart your computer or anything. Now, if you press Windows+L, nothing at all should happen. And if you press Ctrl+Alt+Delete—or click the User button on the Start menu, you’ll see that the “Lock” command has been removed.

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If you want reverse the change, just follow the same steps and set the DisableLockWorkstation value back to 0.

Download Our One-Click Registry Hack

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If you don’t feel like diving into the Registry yourself, we’ve created two downloadable registry hacks you can use. One hack disables the Lock Workstation functionality and the other enables it, restoring the default setting. Both are included in the following ZIP file. Double-click the one you want to use, click through the prompts, and then restart your computer.

Windows Lock Workstation Hacks

These hacks are really just the System key, stripped down to the DisableLockWorkstation  value we described above, and then exported to a .REG file. Running the “Disable Lock Workstation Functionality” hack creates the System key and the DisableLockWorkstation value and also sets that value to 1. Running the “Enable Lock Workstation (Default)” hack sets the value back to 0.  And if you enjoy fiddling with the Registry, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to make your own Registry hacks.

Pro and Enterprise Users: Disable Workstation Lock with the Local Group Policy Editor

If you’re using Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, the easiest way to disable the Workstation Lock functionality is by using the Local Group Policy Editor. It’s a pretty powerful tool, so if you’ve never used it before, it’s worth taking some time to learn what it can do. Also, if you’re on a company network, do everyone a favor and check with your admin first. If your work computer is part of a domain, it’s also likely that it’s part of a domain group policy that will supersede the local group policy, anyway.

In Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, hit Start, type “gpedit.msc,” and then press Enter.

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In the Local Group Policy Editor, in the left-hand pane, drill down to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Ctrl+Alt+Del Options. On the right, find the “Remove Lock Computer” setting and double-click it.

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In the properties window that opens, select the Enabled option and then click OK.

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You can now exit the Local Group Policy Editor. Changes are immediate and pressing Windows+L should do nothing. The “Lock” command should also be removed from the Start menu and from the Ctrl+Alt+Delete security screen. If at any time you want to enable workstation locking again, just follow the same procedure and set that option back to Disabled or Not Configured.

Walter Glenn is a long time computer geek and tech writer. Though he's mostly a Windows and gadget guy, he has a fondness for anything tech. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Published 11/9/16

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