How to Reset a Windows 8 Password

Use this trick to reset your forgotten Windows 8 password

What to Know

  • Best: Use a Windows 8 password reset disk (if you created one before you forgot the password).
  • Alternate: Use a not-sanctioned-by-Microsoft hack.
  • The hack, which works with Windows 8 and 8.1, requires a local account and about an hour.

This article explains how to reset your Windows 8 password with the "hack" outlined below. While it's harmless and works very well, it's not exactly Microsoft-sanctioned.

Ideally, you'd use a Windows 8 password reset disk to reset your Windows 8 password. Unfortunately, the only way to use one of those is if you had the forethought to create one before forgetting your password. We recommend you make one as soon as you get back in (see Step 10 below).

How to Reset a Windows 8 Password

You can reset your Windows 8 password this way no matter what edition of Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 you're using. The process can take up to an hour.

The Windows 8 password reset trick below only works if you're using a local account. If you use an email address to log in to Windows 8 then you're not using a local account. If so, follow our How to Reset Your Microsoft Account Password tutorial.

  1. Access Advanced Startup Options. In Windows 8, all of the important diagnostic and repair options available to you can be found on the Advanced Startup Options (ASO) menu.

    There are six ways to access the ASO menu, all described in the link above, but some (Methods 1, 2, & 3) are only available if you can already get into Windows 8 and/or know your password. We recommend following Method 4, which requires that you have a Windows 8 setup disc or flash drive, or Method 5, which requires that you have or create a Windows 8 Recovery Drive. Method 6 also works, if your computer supports it.

  2. Select Troubleshoot, then Advanced options, and finally Command Prompt.

    Windows 8 ASO Advanced Options menu

    If you're asked for the user password (which you don't know), you'll have to abandon this step and boot to a program that will let you continue these steps. Hiren's BootCD PE is one example of a solution.

  3. Type the following command into Command Prompt:

    copy c:\windows\system32\utilman.exe c:\

    ...and then press Enter. You should see a 1 file(s) copied confirmation.

    copy utilman command in Windows 8 ASO Command Prompt

    If you get a "path not found" or similar error while trying to execute this command or any other ones on this page, it's most likely because the drive letter gets changed while using Command Prompt in this way, and so the system can't find what you're typing. Try the dir d: command and see if it shows the Windows file system—if so, use d in place of c, or (though unlikely helpful) try again with e and so forth.

  4. Now type this command, again followed by Enter:

    copy c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe c:\windows\system32\utilman.exe

    Answer with Y or Yes to question about the overwrite of the utilman.exe file. You should now see another file copy confirmation.

    Copy and utilman command in Windows 8 ASO Command Prompt

    This command is one single line with two spaces; don't press Enter until you're finished with the whole command.

  5. Remove any flash drives or discs that you may have booted from in Step 1 and then restart your computer.

    To restart from the ASO menu, exit Command Prompt and then choose Turn off your PC. Press the power button when it's off to turn it back on.

  6. Once the Windows 8 login screen is available, choose the Ease of Access icon at the bottom-left corner of the screen. Command Prompt should open.

    Windows 8 login screen

    Command Prompt opens because the changes you made in Step 3 and 4 above replaced the Ease of Access tools with Command Prompt (don't worry, you'll reverse these changes in Step 11). Now that you have access to a command line, you can reset your Windows 8 password.

  7. Next, you need to execute the net user command as shown below, replacing myusername with your user name, and mynewpassword with the password you'd like to begin using:

    net user myusername mynewpassword

    For example, the user Jon might execute the command like this:

    net user Jon Pa$$w0rd

    The message The command completed successfully will appear if you've entered the command using the correct syntax.

    net user command reset in Windows 8 Command Prompt

    You need to use double quotes around your username if it happens to have a space in it, like "Tim Fisher" or "Gary Wright."

    If you get a message saying The user name could not be found, execute net user to see the list of Windows 8 users on the computer for reference and then try again with a valid username. The message System error 8646 / The system is not authoritative for the specified account indicates that you're using a Microsoft account to log in to Windows 8, not a local account. See the Important call-out in the introduction at the top of this page for more on that.

  8. Close Command Prompt.

  9. Log in with the new password you set in Step 7!

  10. Now that your Windows 8 password has been reset and you're back in, either create a Windows 8 password reset disk or switch your local account to a Microsoft account. No matter which you choose, you'll finally have legitimate, and much easier to use, Windows 8 password reset options.

  11. Finally, you should reverse the hack that makes this password reset trick work in Windows 8. To do that, repeat Steps 1 & 2 above.

    Once Command Prompt is open again, execute this command:

    copy c:\utilman.exe c:\windows\system32\utilman.exe

    Confirm the overwriting by answering Yes, and then restart your computer.

    While there's no requirement that you reverse these changes, it would be irresponsible to suggest that you don't. What if you need access to Ease of Access from the login screen someday? Also, please know that undoing these changes won't undo your password change, so don't worry about that.

  12. Your password should now be reset.

Illustration of someone unlocking a Windows 8 password with a literal key
Lifewire / Derek Abella 

Other methods also exist to recover or reset a forgotten Windows 8 password, like making an educated guess. See Help! I Forgot My Windows 8 Password! for the full list of ideas.

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