I Forgot My Windows 8 Password! What Are My Options?

What to do when you can't remember your Windows 8 sign-in password

First things first: don't be embarrassed that you forgot your password. We're told over and over again to make longer and more complicated passwords to help keep our data secure, which makes them harder and harder to remember. Who are we trying to keep out here? Most of these tips work exactly the same way for Windows 11/10, some work on all versions of Windows, and some will apply to any forgotten password.

Even if your password wasn't that difficult to remember — you're human. Everyone forgets things now and then, even important things!

I Forgot My Windows 8 Password! What Are My Options?

An illustration showing the ways to recover your Windows 8 password.
Lifewire / Nusha Ashjaee

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to get back in if you forgot your Windows 8 password, all of which we detail below.

Some of these ideas only apply if you log in to Windows 8 using a local account (you log in with a traditional username). Some work only if you're using a Microsoft account (you log in with an email address), and some work for both. We'll let you know each time. However, all of these ideas apply equally to any edition of Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 you may be using.

Make Educated Guesses at Your Password

Before you roll your eyes at this one, give it a shot. Seriously try this, if even just to humor us. Guessing is probably the first thing you did once you realized you forgot your password, but were they educated guesses or just a few frustrated tries?

Yes, there are several geeky ways to get back into Windows, but before you spend all that time and energy with those, give educated guessing a really good last shot.

Considering that both simple and complex, well-crafted passwords are usually inspired by the things most familiar to us in our lives, think about whether your password could have something to do with:

  • Your spouse's, partner's, friend's, or child's birthday
  • An aspect of your first, middle, or last name
  • A favorite set of numbers
  • A fond memory from childhood
  • A favorite food or activity
  • The phone number you remember when you were a kid
  • Where you work or live
  • Your pets
  • ...Or maybe it's some combination of the above

Reset Your Microsoft Account Password Online

An option you were given when you first bought your computer or installed Windows 8 was to sign up for a Microsoft account or sign in with your existing Microsoft account. One huge benefit of doing that is that it gives you an escape plan if you ever forget your password: You can reset your Microsoft account password.

Go to account.live.com/password/reset and follow the on-screen prompts.

You can reset a forgotten Windows 8 password online like this only if you're using a Microsoft account. If you're using a local account, your password is not stored with Microsoft online and so can't be reset by them.

Use That Password Reset Disk You Made

A password reset disk is exactly what it sounds like—it's a floppy disk, or flash drive, that can be used to reset your Windows 8 password if you forget it. If you have one, this is the time to find it and use it!

Unfortunately, it's that if you have one bit that will probably have you moving on to the next idea. A password reset disk is tied to your specific Windows account, meaning that one has to be created from within Windows, back when you actually knew your password. In other words, if you don't already have a password reset disk, your chance to create one for this instance is over.

Once you get back into Windows using one of the other ideas below, please create a Windows 8 password reset disk so you can avoid all this trouble next time you forget your password.

Creating, and thus using, a password reset disk is only an option if you log in to Windows using a local account.

Have Another User Change Your Windows Password

If more than one person uses your computer, and at least one of those other people is configured as an administrator, that person can log on with their password and change your password for you from the User Accounts applet in Control Panel.

You can only have an administrator on your computer change your forgotten Windows 8 password if your account is a local account. The other administrator user can have a Microsoft account or a local account, but your account must be a local account to have your password changed this way.

Use This Trick to Reset Your Windows Password

How to reset a Windows 8 password in Command Prompt with the net user command

There is a free and relatively simple procedure you can follow that lets you reset your password if you've forgotten it. With this trick, you'll be able to reset your Windows 8 password right from the Windows login screen, without a password reset disk or flash drive, and without any need for third-party software.

You'll have to use Command Prompt and do some things you may have never done before, but follow our instructions closely, and you'll get through it fine.

This process will only work if you log in to Windows with a local account. Several other sites recommend this process for Windows 8 in all cases, but it will not successfully reset your password if you're using a Microsoft account to log in.

If for whatever reason, the almost-always-work ideas above weren't successful for you, it's time to move on to a more "serious" method.

Reset Your PC

The Reset Your PC process is very different than just resetting your password. This process removes all your installed programs, apps, and even all of your saved data.

In other words, you get to log in to Windows again because your computer is reset back to its initial configuration, just as it was when you bought it or first installed Windows.

To complete this process, access Advanced Startup Options and then choose TroubleshootReset Your PC.

The Refresh Your PC option won't help with password issues.

See our article on How to Reset Your PC in Windows 8 for a full walkthrough of this process.

This is obviously not a great way to get past a forgotten password, but if all else fails, this will almost certainly work. You'll have the option of creating a new local account or Microsoft account. If you happen to have a second Microsoft account you do know the password to, you'll have the option of signing in with that.

In very rare cases, where you've both forgotten your Windows 8 password, and Reset Your PC isn't functioning for some reason, you can choose to clean install Windows 8 as long as you have a Windows 8 setup disc or flash drive available. Performing a clean install accomplishes the same thing as a Reset Your PC.

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