How to Reset a Password in Windows Safe Mode

by Stacey Anderson

Safe mode is an optional method of loading Windows with the minimal number of drivers. This basic mode allows you to troubleshoot computer problems and to gain access if you have forgotten a user account password. Safe mode will provide access to the Administrator account, the account created during the initial installation of Windows.

Windows XP

1

Boot into safe mode by clicking "Start" and then the "Shutdown" option, and then from the drop-down menu click "Restart Computer." After the computer screen goes blank, hold down the F8 key until the Boot Menu appears. Using the arrow keys, click "Safe Mode" and press "Enter." Note that booting in safe mode will take much longer than booting in normal mode.

2

Log in as Administrator by entering the administrator password in the "Password" field. If there was no administrator password set, leave it blank. This Administrator account option will show only in safe mode.

3

Open the Control Panel by clicking "Start" and then "Control Panel." Choose "User Accounts" and then "Change an Account." Click on the account for which you need to change the password. Choose "Change the password," and type a new password. Include a hint in the password hint field for the next time you forget the account password. Restart the computer, and access the account.

Windows Vista or Windows 7 Professional

1

Reboot the computer. After the computer screen goes blank, hold down the F8 key until the Boot Menu appears. Using the arrow keys, click "Safe Mode" and press "Enter."

2

Log in as Administrator by entering the administrator password in the "Password" field. If there was no administrator password set, leave it blank. An alternate account with administrator access would work as well.

3

Click the "Start" button, which looks like a blue circle with a Windows logo inside. Open "Local Users and Groups" by typing "lusrmgr.msc" (minus the quotes) into the "Search" box and then pressing "Enter." There may be a prompt for an administrator password or confirmation. Type the password, or select "Yes" to confirm.

4

Double-click "Local Users and Groups," and then select "Users." Right-click the account that needs the password reset, and choose "Set Password." Type and confirm the new password. Reboot the computer, and log in to the account with the new password.

Tip

  • If you cannot access the Administrator account, or an account with administrator privileges, you will have to reinstall Windows to regain access.

Warning

  • If you use an administrator account to reset a password for another user, that user will lose access to encrypted files, emails and saved passwords for websites or network resources.

About the Author

Stacey Anderson began writing in 1989. She published articles in “Teratology,” “Canadian Journal of Public Health” and the "Canadian Medical Association Journal” during her time in medical genetics studying birth defects. She has an interest in psychology, senior health and maternal and child health. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology with a minor in biology from the University of Calgary.

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