Switch Quickly Between Users

It’s easy to quickly switch between users when working in Vista. To switch between users, you use a Windows feature known as Fast User Switching.

To use Fast User Switching, hold down the Windows key (it’s usually between your keyboard’s Ctrl and Alt keys) and press the letter L. The Switch User button appears, letting you hand over the reins to the other person — or any other account holder.

When that person finishes, he or she can log off normally: Click the little arrow next to the Start button’s Lock icon and choose Log Off from the pop-up menu. Then you can log back on and see your desktop, just as you left it. Remember these guidelines when switching between users:

  • With all this user switching going on, you may forget whose account you’re actually using. To check, open the Start menu. The current account holder’s name and picture appear at the menu’s upper-right corner.

  • Don’t restart the PC while another person is still logged on in the background, or that person will lose any work that wasn’t saved.

  • You can also switch users by clicking the Start button and clicking the little arrow by the Start menu’s Lock sign. When the menu appears, click Switch User instead of Log Off.

  • If you need to change a security setting while your child is logged on, you don’t need to switch to your Administrator account. Just sit down at the PC and begin changing the setting: Like your child, you’ll see a message asking for an Administrator’s password. Type your Administrator password, and Vista lets you change the setting, just as if you’d logged on under your own account.

  • Fast User Switching slows older computers that lack gobs of memory. If your computer runs slowly with more than one person logged on, avoid Fast User Switching. Log on one person at a time, and then log off when you’re done to give somebody else some keyboard time.

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