Adding the Administrator’s Account to the Vista Welcome Screen

Posted on January 7, 2009 by Daniel Petri in Windows Vista with 0 Comments

Those of you who’ve already installed Windows Vista on their own (read my “Install Windows Vista” article) must have noticed that the installation process prompts you to create a user account when it runs.

Note: See this article to enable the administrator’s account in Windows 7

This account is an administrator account (and a member of the Administrators local group) that lets you set up the computer and install any programs that you want.

Security Note: For security purposes, it is best to logon and work with a standard user account instead of an administrator user account. The standard user account can help protect your computer by preventing users from making changes that affect everyone who uses the computer. When you are logged on to Windows Vista with a standard user account, you can do anything that you can do with an administrator account, but if you want to do something that affects other users of the computer, such as installing software or changing security settings, Windows might ask you to provide a password for an administrator account. This makes the daily usage of the computer much safer than previous versions of Windows. When you first logon to Vista you have only one option in the Welcome screen, that is of the user that you’ve just created during the setup process.

In order to be able to logon as the “default” Administrator’s account you need to first activate the Administrator’s account. Also, since the default Administrator’s account has no password associated with it, it is very important that you set up a password BEFORE you attempt to logon as the Administrator. You may select any password you want, but keep in mind that you should make it at least 8 characters long, and preferably use lower case, upper case, numbers and special characters (this is called a complex password).

Note: Adding the Administrator to the Welcome screen was an issue in Windows XP as well. Read my “How can I add the Administrator’s account to the Welcome Screen in Windows XP?” article, but note that unlike Windows XP, in Windows Vista you must first activate the user, and that action will automatically add it to the Welcome screen. Also note that unlike Windows XP, in Windows Vista you cannot click CTRL-ALT-DEL twice while in the Welcome screen to get to the old fashioned logon screen of previous operating systems.

Step 1 – Set the Administrator’s password

Since the Administrator’s password is set to blank we need to configure it to use a password. You can do so in a few ways, I’ll deal with the most obvious ones. To set the Administrator’s password via the Computer Management snap-in follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the My Computer icon on the desktop (or from within Windows Explorer if you don’t have the desktop icons enabled). Select Manage from the context menu.  
  2. Go to Local Users and Groups and expand Users. Note that in most default installations this list of users will include the first user you’ve built during the setup process, the Administrator, and the Guest account.  
  3. Right-click the Administrator and select Set Password.  
  4. You will be prompted to beware before you proceed. This is because Windows Vista (like Windows XP before) protects the user’s private key with the user’s password. The private key is used to decrypt EFS-encrypted files and other settings, and resetting the user’s password will immediately cause the specific user to lose access to his or her private key, thus causing them to lose ability to decrypt encrypted files. If the user has never been used before and you are sure you have nothing to lose you may proceed. If you do NOT know for 100% that it’s safe to proceed, do NOT proceed, and instead seek advice from an expert.  
  5. Enter the required password and confirm it. Press Ok.  
  6. You will get a confirmation message. Press Ok.

The second method is much faster. To set the Administrator’s password via the Command Prompt follow these steps:

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  1. Click Start and type CMD.
  2. Press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER to open the command Prompt with Administrative rights.
  3. You can also right-click the CMD icon and select “Run as Administrator”.  
  4. If you have UAC enabled (read my “Disable User Account Control in Windows Vista” article) then you will be prompted to accept the action.
  5. At the prompt in the Administrator: Command Prompt window, type the following command, and then press ENTER:

Note: The above action will set the Administrator’s password to “myPa$$w0rd12”, you may select any password you want.

Step 2 – Activating the Administrator’s account

To activate the Administrator’s password follow these steps:

  1. Click Start and type CMD.
  2. Press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER to open the command Prompt with Administrative rights.
  3. You can also right-click the CMD icon and select “Run as Administrator”.
  4. If you have UAC enabled you will be prompted to accept the action.
  5. At the prompt in the Administrator: Command Prompt window, type the following command, and then press ENTER:

Log off of your user account and you will see the Administrator account on the Welcome screen.

You can now logon as the default Administrator account.

Note that now you can also view this account in Control Panel.

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