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How to reset your Windows 10 forgotten password to regain access to your PC

If you can't sign into your Windows 10 account because you have forgotten your password, this workaround will help you to reset your password to regain access to your computer.

Although, many companies are working to eliminate passwords with much more secure alternatives, we’re stuck entering key phrases made up of letters, numbers, upper and lower cases, and some special characters for a bit longer.

It’ll also come the time that for some reason you won’t be able to sign into Windows 10 to get access to your files and apps. This sign-in problem could happen after installing a new Windows 10 update, or because you simply forgot your password, or many other reasons.

Technically, if you don’t have a username and password, you won’t be able to get access to your Windows 10 account. However, there is a workaround that allows you to regain administrator control over your computer to reset your forgotten password to get access to your original account.

Before we go through the instructions to reset your password in Windows 10, it’s important to note that this workaround works on local accounts, not using a Microsoft Account, which you have created online. In this case, you’ll need to use the online Microsoft password recovery tool. Here, you will be greeted with the “Why can’t you sign in?” question, where you want to go through the “I forgot my password” option.

Then the online form will guide through the different ways to verify that you are “you”, by using a secondary email, sending an SMS text to your phone, and other methods to recover your password.

How to reset a forgotten Windows 10 password

  1. If you don’t already have one, create a Windows 10 installation drive, and reboot your computer with it. Remember that your computer needs to be able to boot from the drive with the installation files, as such you may need to reconfigure your computer’s BIOS and disable UEFI and Secure Boot as necessary.

  2. During the first screen on the Windows 10 Setup, use the Shift + F10 keyboard shortcut to open the Command Prompt.

    Open Command Prompt with Shift + F10 during Windows 10 Setup

  3. The Command Prompt will start on X:\Sources> by default, which is the location of the installation files. Here you’ll need to play around until you find the partition where the operating system is install. Often times, it’s on the D:\ drive, but it might be different on your computer. Once you figured out the installation drive you need to navigate into the System32 folder with the following commands:

    D:\ cd Windows\System32

    Of course, you need to replace D:\ with your drive letter.

  4. The next step involves using a trick to enable you to open the Command Prompt on the sign-in screen. To accomplish this task, we’ll be replacing the Utility Manager button with a direct access to the Command Prompt without having to sign into any account using the following commands:

    ren utilman.exe utilman.exe.bak 
    ren cmd.exe utilman.exe

    Utilman.exe to cmd.exe commands

    As you can see from the above commands, we made a backup of the of utilman.exe (Utility Manager), which we can restore later, and replaced it with cmd.exe (Command Prompt).

  5. Exit from all the windows, cancel the installation setup, and let the computer reboot normally.

    Quick Tip: You can use the command wpeutil reboot to restart your computer instead.
  6. While in the sign-in screen, click the Utility Manager button in the bottom-right corner of the screen, and the Command Prompt should now appear.  

  7. In this step we’re going to enable the default built-in Administrator account, which has unrestricted access to the operating system by using the following command:

    net user Administrator /active:yes

    Enable hidden Administrator account in Windows 10

  8. Reboot your computer to see the Administrator and all the other available accounts.

    Windows 10 account list

  9. Click the Administrator account to sign-in. Remember that a password isn’t necessary as by default the account doesn’t any password set.

  10. Once you’re back in to Windows 10, right-click the Start menu, and from the Power User menu click Computer Management.

    Computer Management option in the Power User menu

  11. On Computer Management navigate to Local Users and Groups, right-click the account you want to reset the password, click Set password, type the new password and confirm.

    Reset Windows 10 password from Computer Management

  12. Sign-out from the Administrator account and try to sign back into your older account.

  13. Once you’re back in your original Windows 10 account, reboot your computer using the Windows 10 installation media again.

  14. While in the Windows 10 Setup wizard open the Command Prompt and navigate to the System32 folder as shown in step 2 and 3.

  15. Now, we’re going to revert the changes and restore the utilman.exe and cmd.exe to the default settings using the following commands:

    ren utilman.exe cmd.exe ren utilman.exe.bak utilman.exe

    cmd.exe to utilman.exe commands

  16. It’s also a good idea to disable the Administrator account as well, simply type the following command:

    net user Administrator /active:no

    Disable default Administrator account in Windows 10

  17. Exit all the windows, cancel the installation, and reboot your computer.

How to create a new user account on Windows 10

Alternatively, if you can’t reset your password, you can follow the steps above and on step 7 continue with these instructions to create a new user account using the Command Prompt and adding the new account to the local Administrators groups using the following commands:

net user newUseranme newPassword  /add
net localgroup Adminstrators newUseranme /add

Reboot your computer, sign-in with your newly created users account, navigate to C:\Users\oldUserAccountForgottenPassword\ and move all your data to the new account to start over. Then follow steps 13 to 17.

Disable default Administrator account in Windows 10

There you have it folks. We just went through the steps to manipulate the utilman.exe and cmd.exe utilities within Windows to allow us to use simple commands to reset your Windows 10 password without having to resource to third-party methods.

It’s important to note that this method should work as long as you’re trying to reset the Windows 10 password from a local account without any kind of encryption. If you use any sort of encryption, such as BitLocker, you will need the original password to get access to the account, otherwise you may lose your data.

Lastly, if everything fails, you can contact Microsoft Support for assistant. When you call be ready as the support will begin asking you the same basic security questions you’ll get with the online recovery tool. If you can’t answer them, the support will use different methods to try to verify if the account really belongs to you. Then you will receive instructions on how to reset your password.

Keep in mind that the password reset methods shown today in this guide should also work for Windows 8.1 computers and previous versions of the operating system.