Windows Hello Logo

If you use Windows 10 with a machine with a built-in camera or fingerprint reader, you may encounter the term “Windows Hello” while setting up sign-in methods. But what does it mean? Let’s find out.

What Is Windows Hello?

First announced in 2015, “Windows Hello” is Microsoft’s fancy name for Windows 10’s non-password login security options. Several of those login options are biometric, which means that they use an aspect of your body for identity verification.

That includes scanning your face or fingerprint using methods similar to Apple’s Face ID and Touch ID to gain access to your Windows account. Windows Hello also allows using a PIN (personal identification number) as an alternative to a password or for times when biometric login methods fail.

Why Would I Want to Use Windows Hello?

If you’re tired of using a password to log in to your Windows account (or if you have trouble remembering it), a biometric alternative might be better. Biometric logins also offer an additional level of security, since you must be physically present during the login.

To use Windows Hello, your machine must either include built-in support for biometric logins or you’ll need to install a compatible biometric login device such as a webcam or a fingerprint reader. If you enable Windows Hello, Windows 10’s login by password will be disabled, although your account password may still be necessary to access some system functions.

RELATED: How to Log In to Your PC With Your Fingerprint or Other Device Using Windows Hello

How Do I Configure or Disable Windows Hello?

Accessing Windows Hello options in Settings is easy. First, open the Settings app by clicking the “gear” icon in your Start menu or by pressing Windows+i on your keyboard.

In Settings, click “Accounts.”

In “Accounts,” select “Sign-in options” in the sidebar.

At the top of the Sign-in options page, you’ll see a list of potential Windows Hello sign-in methods listed under the “Manage how you sign in to your device” section. Here’s what they mean.

  • Windows Hello Face: This allows you to log in with facial recognition. A special camera that supports this feature is required.
  • Windows Hello Fingerprint: This lets you log in using a fingerprint reader, which can either be built-in on your laptop or a USB fingerprint reader that you plug in.
  • Windows Hello PIN: This sets up a PIN number that serves as a backup in case biometric logins fail. You can also use it as your main login option instead of a password.
  • Security Key: This allows you to sign in with a security key, which is a small physical device that either plugs into your USB port or is read by a special RFID reader device.

If Windows Hello is not currently enabled, you may also see “Password” and “Picture Password” options, which are not part of Hello. To change the settings for any of them, click the option and follow the instructions.

Windows Hello sign-in options as seen in Windows 10 Settings.

By default, when Windows Hello is enabled, you won’t be able to log in with a password. If you’d like to disable any one of the Windows Hello sign-in methods, you can click its item in the list, then select “Remove.” You can also locate the switch labeled “Require Windows Hello sign-in for Microsoft accounts” and flip it to “Off.”

To disable Windows Hello, turn off the switch beside "Require Windows Hello sign-in for Microsoft accounts" in Windows 10 Setup.

After that, close Settings, and your changes will take effect immediately. You can test any login changes quickly by pressing Windows+L on your keyboard to lock your screen. Good luck!

RELATED: 10 Ways to Lock Your Windows 10 PC

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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