Parental controls in Windows 10 are pretty solid, but to use them you have to set the whole family up with Microsoft accounts and you have to create specific child accounts for your kids. If you prefer to use regular local accounts, you can still set time limits for how long any non-administrative user can use a computer.

In Windows 10, Parental controls offer some nice features for monitoring kids’ accounts. They let you limit web browsing, which apps kids can use, and the times kids can use the computer. The downside is that to use these controls, all members of the family must have Microsoft accounts. You also have to set the kids up with child accounts, which can impose some limits you may not want. The good news is that you can still use local accounts and impose some of these same limits. If you’re comfortable working with Group Policy, it’s not hard to restrict users to running specified programs. You can filter web sites at the router level. And, as we’ll talk about here, you can even impose time restrictions for local user accounts.

RELATED: How to Add and Monitor a Child's Account in Windows 10

You’ll set time restrictions for a user at the Command Prompt. To open Command Prompt, right-click the Start menu (or press Windows+X), choose “Command Prompt (Admin)”, and then click Yes to allow it to run with administrative privileges.

The command for setting time limits for a user follows this syntax:

net user <username> /time:<day>,<time>

Here’s how each part of the command works:

  • Replace <username> with the name of the user account you want to limit.
  • Replace <day> with the day you want to set limits on. You can spell out the full names of the days or use the initials Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa.
  • Replace <time> with a time range using either a 12-hour (3am, 1pm, etc.) or 24-hour (03:00, 13:00, etc.) format. You can only use times in one-hour increments, so don’t add any minutes to the times.

So, for example, say you wanted to restrict a user account named Simon to using the computer only from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday. You would use the command:

net user simon /time:Sa,8am-4pm

You can also specify a range of days with the same time limits by separating the days with a hyphen. So, to limit the user to using the computer only on weekdays from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm, you could use the command:

net user simon /time:M-F,4pm-8pm

Furthermore, you can string multiple day/time limits together by separating them with a semicolon. Let’s put those two time limits we imposed before together in the same command:

net user simon /time:Sa,8am-4pm;M-F,4pm-8pm

Using this same format, you can also specify multiple time ranges on the same day. For example, this command limits the user to 6:00 am to 8:00 am and 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm on all weekdays:

net user simon /time:M-F,6am-8am;M-F,4pm-10pm

You can also remove restrictions from a user by specifying all times:

net user simon /time:all

Finally, if you use the command but leave the time blank (enter nothing after the time: part), the user will never be able to log on. That might be useful if you want to lock out an account temporarily, but be careful you don’t leave it blank by accident. Also, if you ever need to display what times you’ve set for a user, you can just type the net user command followed by the account name:

net user simon

And that’s it. You don’t have to use parental controls or Microsoft accounts to set time limits for users. You just have spend a few minutes in the Command Prompt.

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Walter Glenn is a former Editorial Director for How-To Geek and its sister sites. He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry and over 20 years as a technical writer and editor. He's written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and edited thousands. He's authored or co-authored over 30 computer-related books in more than a dozen languages for publishers like Microsoft Press, O'Reilly, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. He's also written hundreds of white papers, articles, user manuals, and courseware over the years.
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