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 a forgotten Windows 10 password
To regain access to your account after forgetting your password, create an Windows 10 USB media, and then use these steps:
Start your computer with the Windows 10 USB media. (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.)
In the Windows 10 Setup page, use the Shift + F10 keyboard shortcut to open Command Prompt.
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 installed. Usually, it’s on the
D:\drive, but it might be different on your computer. Type the following command and press Enter:
Type the following command to navigate to the System32 folder and press Enter:
D:\ cd Windows\System32
Remember to replace
D:\with your drive letter.
Type the following commands in order to replace the Utility Manager button with a direct access to Command Prompt without in the Sign-in screen and press Enter on each line:
ren utilman.exe utilman.exe.bak ren cmd.exe utilman.exe
Using the above commands, we created a backup of the of utilman.exe (Utility Manager), which you can restore later, and replaced it with cmd.exe (Command Prompt).
Exit from all the windows, cancel the installation setup, and let the computer reboot normally.Quick Tip: You can use the command
wpeutil rebootto restart your computer instead.
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.
Type the following command to enable the built-in Administrator account, which has unrestricted access to the operating system, and then press Enter:
net user Administrator /active:yes
Restart your computer to see the Administrator and all the other available accounts.
Click the Administrator account to sign-in.
Search for Computer Management and click the top resul to open the experience.
Expand the Local Users and Groups branch.
Expand the Users branch.
Right-click the account you want to reset the password and select the Set password option.
Type the new password.
Click the OK button to confirm.
Sign out from the Administrator account.
Sign in using the account that you reset its password.
Restart your computer using the Windows 10 installation media again.
While in the Windows 10 Setup wizard open the Command Prompt and navigate to the System32 folder as shown in step No. 2, 3, and 4.
Type the following commands to restore the utilman.exe and cmd.exe to their default settings and press Enter:
ren utilman.exe cmd.exe ren utilman.exe.bak utilman.exe
Type the following command to disable the Administrator account and press Enter:
net user Administrator /active:no
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 No. 8 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
Restart 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.
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.
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 January 11, 2018: This guide was originally published in November 2015, and it’s been updated in January 2018.