User accounts have changed from the days of Windows 7 and while Windows 8 users may be familiar with the process, those of you who have just migrated from 7 may find things to be a bit strange and confusing. The most important change is the introduction of Microsoft accounts but there are plenty more things to note and we are going to cover them all.
Microsoft vs Local accounts
Microsoft has been pushing for online accounts since it first released Windows 8 as the company has been investing quite heavily in connected services. Using a Microsoft account in your computer means that you can instantly access Microsoft’s cloud services like OneDrive while also syncing your settings and files across all of your devices. A connected account is thus the best option for those who frequently take advantage of Microsoft’s services and those that have multiple PCs. The only real disadvantage to these accounts is the hit to your privacy as Microsoft gathers quite a lot of data from you. Of course, the company says that the data is merely used for your own gain but in our digital world, that claim should be taken with a grain of salt.
In Windows 7, user accounts were managed via the Control Panel but that has changed in Windows 10. Now, users will have to go to Settings > Accounts where everything has been consolidated in a single window. If you are currently signed in with a Microsoft account that you used during the Windows 10 set up process, you will your name along with your email address at the very top. The first link underneath those items reads “Manage my Microsoft account” which will take you to an online page. That page is the only way to change any settings to your Microsoft account as it is a universal hub that affects all of your connected devices. As I have already mentioned, a lot of your settings are tied up to that account so you can pretty much set another PC with your favorite items instantly.
For those that could not care less about such things, Microsoft still provides a local account option. To start the process, click on the link that reads “Sign in with a local account instead” in the Accounts menu. Once you click on that you will need to verify your current password. After you enter the password you will be signed out of your account so make sure that you have closed any open programs and saved all data. The account creation page is extremely simple as you will only need to enter a username, password and a password hint so the process is pretty much the same as it has always been.
There are several ways to add more users to your PC if you want, starting with the Accounts menu. Scroll down to the bottom and you will see two links that read “Add a Microsoft account” and “Add a work or school account”. The first option will let you add an online account while the second one is reserved for organizations that have specific setups. You will only need to click on that if you are prompted to do so by your company’s administrator so you need not worry about it right now. If you have used a Microsoft account in one of the company’s services like Mail, Windows 10 will also list it in the bottom of the page so that you can quickly add it to your PC.
If you want to add more users, head over to the “Family & other users” menu. The first option will let you add family members via their own Microsoft accounts while the second option should be reserved for guests as they will not be added to your family. If the person you want to add does not have an email address, the account creation process will prompt you to create a new one for them. As you can see, Microsoft really, really wants people to be connected with online accounts in Windows nowadays.
This is a very important menu as it can completely change the way you sign-in to your Windows account.
- Require sign-in: This will let you choose whether you want to enter your password/PIN every time your PC wakes up or not. I highly recommend that you leave this enabled as it will protect your computer at all times but if you live alone then maybe it is not really worth it.
- Password: This option will let you change your password. The good news is that Windows will take care of it in-house and you will not be prompted to another web-page.
- PIN: If you do not want to use a password for your logins in Windows services, a PIN may do the trick. It is far quicker but also less secure so choose wisely.
- Picture password: Windows lets you select a favorite photo which you can then use to unlock the system via a series of swipes and such but the option is best reserved for touch-enabled devices.
- Related settings: The menu features additional options such as the lock screen. Clicking on the listed links will take you to the appropriate menus.
Sync your settings
This menu represents everything I have already told you about Microsoft accounts. Here you can choose to disable syncing completely or choose to sync specific items only. Everything can be configured by the toggle so spend some time with the items listed and choose whether you want to disable some of them or not.