Howto log into Windows XP if you lost your password

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 25, 2006
Updated • May 6, 2013
Windows, Windows XP

I'm testing tweaks quite often on my system and it happens from time to time that a tweak has unforeseen consequences. It happened in the past that I got locked out of the Windows XP operating system. While I was able to boot into the logon screen, I could not remember the password that I had used during account creation. Since I have configured Windows to boot directly into the operating system, I never had to enter the password during logon before.

The following method may work for your as well in this and similar scenarios.The first thing that I would try and do is use the default Administrator login to see if you can use it without password to get back in the system. Since it is not password protected by default, it should work in most cases.

You may need to boot into safe mode if the target system does not use the welcome screen of Windows XP or if you can't log off. (Try hitting CTRL + ALT + DEL twice)  Boot into safe mode by hitting F8 at the boot process and select Boot Windows in Safe Mode. The following welcome screen will display the Adminstrator icon next to all other user accounts. If you have not changed the password you will be able to login by leaving the password empty. This way you are logged in as administrator and will be able to change the passwords of other users.

You can change passwords for all users in the user accounts control panel applet. To get there click on the start orb of your Windows system, and select Control Panel from there. Locate the Users Accounts and Family Safety link there and click on it (this is for Windows 7), and click on User Accounts. Here you can select the Manage another account link to change the passwords for other user accounts, provided that you are logged in with an administrator account.

change user account password

Please note that while all recent versions of Windows come with options to change the password of users, the way to reach the control panel applet may be different. You also need to make sure that it won't have implications, as you won't be able to access encrypted files afterwards anymore.


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