Windows 8 introduced Microsoft accounts, which are essentially roaming accounts that allow you to sync settings and files from computer to computer. Today we want to discuss what Windows 10 brings to user account management, and the options available to you.
In the old PC settings on Windows 8.1, you were limited to three options, but in Windows 10, those options have been expanded to five and things have been rounded out quite a bit.
To access the Accounts settings, you first need to open the Settings and click or tap “Accounts”.
In the Accounts group, the top-most option is “Your account”, which lets you among other things, manage your Microsoft account, change your profile picture, and more.
Managing your Microsoft account must be done online. You cannot do so locally (though you can still have a local account, which we’ll explain shortly).
A Microsoft account allows you to sync your settings and basically roam from computer to computer. Your apps, profile picture, color choices, and more are uploaded to the cloud so wherever you log into next, it appears as you left it on the previous device. This obviously shares a lot of information with Microsoft and it may very well be a bit overkill for some users.
Luckily, if you simply want to maintain an account locally, you can still do that. Simply click the link “Sign in with local account instead” to create one.
You won’t need an email account or phone number or anything else, you’ll simply be prompted for a user name and password. To actually switch to the local account, you will have to sign out of your Microsoft account, so make sure you save anything you might have been working on before you do that.
Beyond being able to create a local account on the “Your account” page, you can create a new profile picture if you have a camera attached.
Finally, if you want to add more Microsoft accounts, or a work or school account, then you can do so using the links found at the bottom of the “Your account” page.
We’ll briefly cover the basics of adding work or school accounts, but in the meantime we’re going to take a look at Windows 10’s sign-in options.
The sign-in options will let you define whether you’re required to sign in again when the PC wakes from sleep mode or not at all. This is also the place where you can change your account password, which is very good to know.
You can make your life a bit easier when signing into your Windows 10 computer by adding a PIN but this method is inherently less secure so we urge caution when enlisting this method.
You can add a picture password, which means that you can use a favorite photo and assign a series of swipes, circles, and other gestures, which will then act as your password. This final method works a lot better if you’re using a touchscreen.
Finally, if your computer comes with a fingerprint or card reader, you may see sign-in options for those as well.
The “Work access” option probably isn’t something most users are going to use, but we’ll cover it briefly just so you’re aware of it.
This option lets you connect to a computer at work or school so you can access its resources like apps, network, and email.
You will need to provide your work or school account credentials to get started.
To use this option, you’re likely going to need assistance from your tech support representative at your work or school, and as such, they will be able to explain it more thoroughly and tell you exactly what needs to be done.
Family & Other Users
Want to quickly add family members and other users to your computer? The “Family & other users” settings is where you can do that.
Note, if you have children and you want to allow them to use the computer, you can add them here and assign them a child’s account, which can then be monitored by Microsoft Family Safety. Doing so will let you make sure your kids only view appropriate websites, observe curfews and time limits, and use games and apps that you’ve explicitly allowed.
You can also add other users who aren’t family members to your PC. They will then be able to sign in as needed with their own accounts, which means you won’t have to share an account with them.
Finally, there is the assigned access option. With this option, you can restrict an account so it only has access to a single Windows Store app. Think of this as a sort of kiosk mode. To sign out of the assigned access account, you will need to press “Ctrl + Alt + Del”.
Assigned access is probably most useful if you want to limit a child to a game or educational program or in such a case where you might want to force users to use a single app, such as restaurants where you order using a menu app on a tablet, or perhaps to let people fill out a survey. In cases such as this, assigned access would be ideal.
Sync Your Settings
Finally, there’s the “Sync your settings” option, which we’ve covered previously so we won’t spend a great deal of time on it.
Syncing your settings goes hand-in-hand with using a Microsoft account and you can either completely disable syncing, or toggle off its various options one by one.
While the new user account settings in Windows 10 aren’t too terribly different from Windows 8.1, there are enough changes therein that merit a closer examination. You still have the option between a Microsoft account or local one, and there are still three sign-in options, but it’s safe to say new users who skipped Windows 8 will want to bring themselves up to speed as soon as possible.
Additionally, the user account items found in the old control panel will largely go unused. There’s simply not enough remaining there that we feel needs to be covered. For most users, the new settings will give them all the control and options they need to not only administer their own account, but other users on the system as well.
If you have anything you would like to contribute, such as a question or comment, we urge you to leave your feedback in our discussion forum.