How to Find the Windows Administrator Password

There are a few things you can try if you need the Windows admin password

Screenshot of the Administrator login prompt in Windows 10
Administrator Password Prompt (Windows 10).

An administrator (admin) password is the password to any Windows account that has administrator level access. There are a few scenarios where you might need access to an administrator account, like if you're trying to run certain types of programs, edit files in protected areas of the OS, or access certain Windows recovery tools.

In newer versions of windows, like Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7, most primary accounts are configured to be administrator accounts, so an administrator password is most often the password to your account. Not all user accounts are set up this way, but many are, especially if you installed Windows on your computer yourself.

There's also a built-in "Administrator" account in all versions of Windows that functions as another, pre-configured admin user account, but it doesn't typically show up on the logon screen and most people don't know it exists.

That said, if you're using an older version of Windows, like Windows XP, you may need this admin password when accessing the Windows XP Recovery Console or when trying to boot into Windows XP Safe Mode.

The steps involved in finding your admin password is essentially the same in each version of Windows.

How to Find the Administrator Password in Windows

Depending on the situation, finding the password to an admin account may take minutes up to hours.

  1. If you're trying to log in to the actual "Administrator" account, try leaving the password blank. In other words, just press Enter when asked for the password.

    This trick doesn't work nearly as often in newer versions of Windows as it did in Windows XP but it's still worth a shot.

  2. Enter the password to your account. Like we mentioned above, depending on how Windows was set up on your computer, the primary user account will often be configured with administrator privileges.

    If you installed Windows on your computer yourself, this is very likely the situation for you.

  3. Try to remember your administrator password. As mentioned in the last step, your account might be configured as an administrator, especially if you installed Windows on your computer yourself.

    If that's true, but you've forgotten your password, you might be able to make really good guesses at what the administrator password might be.

  4. Have another user enter his or her credentials. If there are other users that have accounts on your computer, one of them may be set up with administrator access.

    If this is true, have the other user designate you as an administrator as well. Or, you can have the user change your password from within their own account.

  5. Recover an administrator password using a Windows password recovery tool. You might be able to recover or reset an administrator password with one of these free tools.

    Cain & Abel Windows password recovery tool

    Some password recovery tools in the list linked above also have the ability to add administrator privileges to regular Windows user accounts, which could be valuable if you know your account's password but it's not an administrator account. Some can also enable accounts like the "Administrator" account.

  6. Perform a clean install of Windows. This type of installation will completely remove Windows from your PC and install it again from scratch.

    Obviously, don't attempt this extreme solution unless you absolutely must. Don't do it just because you're curious what the password is.

    For example, if you're needing an admin password to access operating system diagnostic tools and this is your last effort to save your PC, performing a clean install will work because you'll have an opportunity to set up a new account from scratch during Windows setup.

  7. By now, you should have your administrative password again.

How to Never Forget the Admin Password Again

The administrator password is needed in some situations, but if you find that you have a hard time remembering your password when you need it, there are some things you can do to avoid forgetting it again in the future.

One method many people use to store user account passwords is a password manager. All you need to remember is one password, and then inside the password vault is a list of all your hard-to-remember passwords, which could include your Windows administrator password.

The official Microsoft way to never forget your password is to make a Windows password reset disk so that any time you forget your password, even if you've changed it a dozen times since you made the disk, you can always get in to your administrator account.

Although it isn't super secure, something else you can do is avoid having to type the administrator password ever again. To do that, you can set up your computer to automatically log in to Windows. The password is remembered for you so that all you have to do is turn your computer on to log in.