How Do User Accounts Work in Windows 10?

By Andy Rathbone

Windows 10 uses user accounts to allow several people to work on the same computer, yet Windows keeps everybody’s work separate. To do that, it needs to know who’s currently sitting in front of the keyboard. When you sign in — introduce yourself — by clicking your username, as shown here, the Windows Start menu and desktop appear as you just left them, ready for you to make your own personalized mess.

Click your user account name and then type your password on the next screen.
Click your user account name and then type your password on the next screen.

When you’re through working or just feel like taking a break, sign out so that somebody else can use the computer. Later, when you sign back in, your own files will be waiting for you.

Although you may turn your work area into a mess, it’s your own mess. When you return to the computer, your letters will be just as you saved them. Jerry hasn’t accidentally deleted your files or folders while playing Words with Friends. Tina’s Start menu still contains links to her favorite quilting websites. And nobody will be able to read your e-mail.

Until you customize your username picture, you’ll be a silhouette, like the accounts listed in the bottom corner of the figure. To add a photo to your user account, click your username in the Start menu’s upper-left corner and choose Change Account Settings. When the Settings menu’s Accounts section appears, click the Camera icon to take a quick shot with your computer’s built-in camera. Still wearing your pajamas? Then choose Browse to choose a photo already stored in your Pictures folder.