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How to Switch Quickly between Users in Windows 8

Windows 8 enables an entire family, roommates, or employees in a small office to share a single computer or tablet. The computer keeps track of everybody’s programs while different people use the computer.

Mom can be playing chess and then let Jerry sign in to check his e-mail. When Mom signs back in a few minutes later, her chess match is right where she left it, pondering the sacrifice of her rook.

Known as Fast User Switching, switching between users works quickly and easily. When somebody else wants to sign in to his account for a moment, perhaps to check e-mail, follow these steps:

  1. Switch to the Start screen.

    To return to the Start screen, press the keyboard’s Windows key; with a mouse, point in the screen’s top- or bottom-left corner and then click the Start icon.

    On a touchscreen, slide your finger inward from the screen’s right edge to summon the Charms bar and then tap the Start icon.

  2. Click your user account photo in the screen’s top-right corner.

    A menu drops down.

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  3. Choose the name of the user account holder who wants to sign in.

    Windows leaves you signed in, but immediately fetches the other person’s account, letting him type in his password.

When that person finishes with the computer, he can sign out just as you did in Step 2, by clicking his user account photo in the Start screen’s upper-right corner. This time, however, he’ll choose Sign Out. Windows closes down his session, letting you sign back in with your own password.

Keep these tips in mind when switching between other account holders on your PC:

  • With all this user switching, you may forget whose account you’re actually using. To check, open the Start screen. The current account holder’s name and picture appear in the menu’s top-right corner. Also, the Windows 8 opening screen lists the words “Signed In” beneath the picture of every user who’s currently signed in.

  • Don’t restart the PC while another person is still signed in, or that person will lose any work he hasn’t saved. (Windows 8 warns you before restarting the PC, giving you a chance to ask the other person to sign on and save his work.)

  • If a Standard account owner tries to change a setting or install software, a window will appear, asking for Administrator permission. If you want to approve the action, just step over to the PC and type your password into the approval window. Windows 8 lets you approve the change, just as if you’d done it while signed in with your own account.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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