How to Create Password Reset Questions in Windows 10 - dummies

How to Create Password Reset Questions in Windows 10

By Woody Leonhard

Windows 10 lets you create password reset questions so that you don’t have to contact support every time you forget or lose your password. If you have a Microsoft account, the only way to reset the password is online. Go to Microsoft’s Reset Password page, and follow the instructions.

If you have a local account (not a Microsoft account), Microsoft doesn’t store your password on its computers. Prior to Windows 10 version 1803, Microsoft had a set series of steps that would allow to create a password reset disk — basically a simple file that would unlock your PC, should you forget the local account’s password. As of version 1803, those days are gone. Microsoft has not only done away with the password reset disk, they now specifically acknowledge that they can’t and won’t help you get your local account password back, should you lose it.

If you forget your local account password, you’re out of luck. Windows 1803 and later won’t let you in. Your only option is to reinstall Windows, which you need about as much as an IRS audit.

The one exception? If you have the presence of mind to set up three specific password challenge questions before you forget your password — and you can remember the answers to all three of those questions — Windows 10 will let you in.

If you use a local account, it is extremely important to establish your three password challenge questions, particularly if your PC has only one administrator account, and it’s a local account. Mail comes in practically every day from people who have forgotten their passwords and can’t get in. This one simple trick, which takes all of a couple of minutes, will save you untold grief should you forget that lousy password!

Here’s the basic idea: You log into Windows 10, using any kind of password — typed, PIN, or picture. You find the magic location to update your security questions, and then fill in answers to three questions that you choose (from a very small set). When you forget your password, Windows 10 will prompt you to answer those questions. Say the magic words, and click your heels three times. Bingo, you’re in!

It doesn’t matter if somebody has changed your password without your knowing. The password challenge questions let you in, no matter what the password may be. As long as you have a local account, you’re in like Flynn.

Establishing password security questions in Windows 10

If you have a password-protected local account, follow these steps to set up the magical three questions that will let you back in to your account, should you ever get locked out:

  1. Log in to Windows 10 using your local account.
    It doesn’t matter what kind of password you use.
  2. Click Start → Settings. Click the Accounts icon.
  3. On the left, choose Sign-In Options.
    You get the Sign-In Options page.
  4. On the right, under Password, click the link to Update Your Security Questions.
    Windows shows you drop-down boxes for three security questions.
    Windows 10 password reset questions
    Windows 1803 introduces a bare-bones security questions list.
  5. Choose the best questions you can find in each of the three boxes and type the answers.

    Only six questions are available, and they’re the same questions in all three drop-down boxes. Thus, you’re forced to enter responses to three of the built-in questions — one in each box. You can’t enter your own questions.

    The answers are case-sensitive so, for example, Dummies is not the same as dummies. The fact that they’re case-sensitive may make you change a question.

  6. If you’re concerned that you won’t remember the precise answers — you’ll need to type the answers exactly — make a note for yourself on your phone, or someplace safe.
  7. Click Finish.
    Or X out of the Sign-In Options page.

Once again: The password security questions are only for logging in to your PC with your local account. They don’t work for Microsoft accounts.

Using password recovery questions in Windows 10

So you followed the steps and set up the challenge questions for your local account’s password. The time comes when you forget your password. Here’s how to get in:

  1. On the log in screen, type an incorrect password and click OK.
    You see a Reset Password prompt.
    reset password Windows 10
    If you can’t remember your password, type a bad one. You see this screen.
  2. Click Reset Password.

    You’re prompted to enter the answers to your three security questions.

  3. Type answers to all three questions, and then press Enter or click the right arrow next to the bottom answer.

    Windows starts and immediately prompts you to reset your password.

    password reset wizard
    The wizard forces you to create a new password and hint.

Don’t lose the answers to those questions, okay?

To reiterate: As long as you have a local account, the ability to answer those three questions will get you into the machine, regardless of the original password.