How Do I Get Back Into My Computer When it Won't Recognize My Password?

By J.E. Myers

Updated September 28, 2017

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Nothing will make a computer owner’s blood chill faster than trying to log into their Windows user account and receiving the dreaded message: “password incorrect.” User account passwords are, unfortunately, very vulnerable. Once someone else has access to your user account, they can easily change your password and lock you out. You can also lock yourself out by setting or remembering the password incorrectly. There are several ways to re-enter your computer without the user password however.

Safe Mode Back Door

For Windows 98/2000/XP users, there is a handy “back door” for clearing and resetting any user account password. Reboot the computer and as it powers up, press the "F8" key. This will bring up the boot options list, which includes the Safe Mode choice. Click on Safe Mode. Safe Mode will load Windows, minus some drivers and the password sentry program. Once your Safe Mode desktop loads, go to Control Panel/User Accounts and clear the password from the administrator account. Save this change and reboot the machine. Under normal mode now, go back to User Accounts and set a new password

Vista And Windows 7

Vista and Windows 7 offer no easy Safe Mode back door. Realizing the Safe Mode backdoor trick compromised user security, Microsoft eliminated it from its new product line. Instead, you must have the foresight to create a Password Reset Disk on a floppy drive or a USB flash drive. You cannot use a CD disk for this method. This is the only way to reset a Vista/Win 7 password without resorting to reinstalling the operating system. Microsoft recommends you create this Password Reset disk when you set up your new computer or after you have established a new password.

Password Hacking Tools

Tools and other methods are available online for hacking or breaking Windows operating systems passwords, but they are not usually recommended by Microsoft or computer professionals. Dealing with these often nefarious software distributors can expose you to security risks, including the very strong possibility of catastrophic infection. Some of these "workaround" methods are also quite complex and could cause further damage to your operating system. Be extremely cautious if you choose to try these hacks.

Other Account Holders

If you have lost your user account password, it may be possible to gain entry if you have another user registered on your computer whose password functions. Have the other user log on and get you to the Control Panel so you can reset your password. This possible solution will only work, however, if the other account user has administrator privileges: User accounts with limited or “guest” access will not be able to change any administrator settings.

Hack Password

If you have recently changed your password, and now your entry doesn’t work, it is highly likely you are simply not typing in the same letters or numbers that you entered into the new password box. This frequently happens: because the password is masked with dots as it is entered, people aren’t aware the caps lock was turned on when they entered the new password. Try re-typing the password with caps both on and off, and even try capitalizing the first words in a phrase. If your password was a phrase, try to recall if you typed it in with spaces or without. Try common misspellings of your password in case you transposed letters or struck a nearby wrong key.