Reset forgotten password on Windows 10
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How to reset forgotten password on Windows 10

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.

Eventually, for one reason or another, you won’t be able to sign in to Windows 10 to get access to your files and apps. This sign-in problem could happen after installing a new version, you simply forgot your password, and 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’s a workaround that allows you to regain administrator control over your computer to reset your forgotten password to get access to your original account.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to reset a forgotten password and recover your local account on Windows 10.

How to reset forgotten password on Windows 10

To regain access to your account after forgetting your password, create an Windows 10 USB media, and then use these steps:

Important: Before proceeding to reset your password in Windows 10, note that this workaround only works with local accounts, not when using a Microsoft Account. If this is your case, you’ll need to use the online Microsoft password recovery tool. In the page, 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.
  1. Start computer with a Windows 10 USB bootable media.

    Quick note: To start your device with a bootable media, you may need to change the BIOS or UEFI settings. This process usually requires pressing one of the function keys (F1, F2, F3, F10, or F12), the ESC or Delete key. For more accurate instructions, visit your PC manufacturer’s support website.
  2. In the Windows 10 Setup page, use the Shift + F10 keyboard shortcut to open Command Prompt.

    Open Command Prompt with Shift + F10 during Windows 10 Setup

  3. Type the following command to move from the X:\Sources folder to the root folder of your Windows 10 installation and press Enter:

    D:

    In the command, we’re using D: because it’s usually the drive letter to access the hard drive after booting the device with USB, but you’ll need to play around to find the right drive letter. You can confirm the location using the dir command. If the result shows the “Programs Files” as well as “Windows” folders, then you’re in the correct location.

  4. Type the following command to navigate to the System32 folder and press Enter:

    cd Windows\System32
  5. Type the following commands to replace the Utility Manager button with a direct access to Command Prompt from the Sign-in screen and press Enter (on each line):

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

    Utilman.exe to cmd.exe commands

  6. Type the following command to restart your computer normally and press Enter:

    wpeutil reboot
  7. In the Sign-in screen, click the Utility Manager button in the bottom-right corner to open Command Prompt.

  8. Type the following command to enable the built-in Administrator account and then press Enter:

    net user Administrator /active:yes

    Enable hidden Administrator account in Windows 10

  9. Click the Power button in the bottom-right corner and select the Restart option.

  10. In the Sign-in screen, select the Administrator account.

    Windows 10 account list

  11. Open Start.

  12. Search for Computer Management and click the top result to open the app.

  13. Expand the Local Users and Groups branch.

  14. Expand the Users branch.

  15. Right-click the account you want to reset the password and select the Set password option.

  16. Specify the new password.

  17. Click the OK button.

    Reset Windows 10 password from Computer Management

  18. Sign out from the Administrator account.

  19. Sign back in using the account with the new password.

  20. Restart the device using the Windows 10 USB bootable media again.

  21. In the Windows 10 Setup page, use the Shift + F10 keyboard shortcut to open Command Prompt.

  22. Type the following command to move to the root folder of your Windows 10 installation and press Enter:

    D:
  23. Type the following command to navigate to the System32 folder and press Enter:

    cd Windows\System32
  24. Type the following commands to replace the Utility Manager button with a direct access to Command Prompt from the Sign-in screen and press Enter (on each line):

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

    cmd.exe to utilman.exe commands

  25. Type the following command to disable the Administrator account and press Enter:

    net user Administrator /active:no

    Disable default Administrator account in Windows 10

  26. Type the following command to restart your computer normally and press Enter:

    wpeutil reboot

Once you complete the steps, you can regain access to your account normally.

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.

We’re focusing this guide on Windows 10, but you can use the same instructions on Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and older versions of the operating system.

Update October 31, 2019: This guide was originally published in November 2015, and it’s been revised in October 2019.