How to Delete User Accounts in Windows 7

In a multi-user home or office with a single PC, everybody loves to have their own personal desktop space. That way users can keep their documents, pictures, videos, and music separate. Every so often, however, you need to get rid of a user. Maybe somebody left the office and no longer needs their account. Empty-nesters might want to clear out room on their hard drive now that the kids are at college. Whatever the reason, here's how to delete user accounts you no longer need.

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Back-up before you delete

Backup computer
Getty Images

If at all possible, the first thing you want to do before deleting an account is to check with the user to see if they've backed up all their personal files. Before deleting a user account you will have the option to save that user's files. But just in case something goes wrong, it's always best to do a manual back-up of those user files first.  

The last thing you want to do is delete a user account and take that person's music or photos with it. If they haven't backed anything up, ask for their login details--or create a password reset disk ahead of time--and then copy all their important user account folders to an external hard drive or high-capacity SD card.

Once that's done. It's time to start deleting that account.

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Open the User Accounts Tool

Now that we've backed up all the important files from this user account, it's time to learn how to delete it. 

To get started, click Start, and then select Control Panel on the right-hand side (pictured here, circled in red).

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Open User Accounts

delete user
Open User Accounts.

Once the Control Panel opens, select User Accounts. This will cause a second window to open. Now, within the User Accounts window, click the User Accounts icon.

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Select the Account to Delete

delete user
Select the Account to Delete.

A list of user accounts will appear with their respective profile icons. Select the account you wish to delete (In this example, Elwood Blues is selected). Now click on Delete the account from the various options on the left-hand side of the User Accounts window.

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Confirm Keeping or Deleting User's Files

delete user
Keep or Delete User Files.

At this point, Windows 7 will ask if you want to keep or delete the user files associated with this account. If you backed up those files previously, you may choose to delete them now. If you're not worried about hard drive space--and you're still on speaking terms with the account owner--you may want to keep the files as a secondary back-up. That may seem redundant since you backed up all the files previously, but backing up personal files is all about redundancy

Anyway, in our example with Elwood, we are deleting his work because we don't expect him to be working on this PC again (maybe our imaginary user was caught taking too many pens home from work, or maybe he just quit to get a screenwriting job in Hollywood. You decide.).

Note that in the final screen (shown here) we can see that the account has been deleted since it is no longer shown. Elwood's presence on this PC is now history.

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Think Ahead

Windows 7 desktop
Used with permission from Microsoft.

Deleting user accounts is easy enough, but you can also save yourself the trouble of doing this by thinking ahead a little bit.  If, for example, you're creating a new user account for a house guest, a better option might be to use Windows 7's built-in guest account feature. 

The guest account is hidden by default but is easy to activate via the Control Panel. The great thing about the guest account in Windows 7 is that has only the most basic permissions and restricts its users from accidentally messing up your PC. ​

To find out more, check out our tutorial on "How to Use Guest Accounts in Windows 7."

Whichever type of account you use in Windows 7 getting rid of them (or disabling it, in the case of the guest account) is a fairly simple and straightforward process. 

Updated by Ian Paul.