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User Accounts \windows\system32\nusrmgr.cpl

Add or remove user accounts and change the privileges of existing users.

To Open

Control Panel User Accounts

Command Prompt control nusrmgr.cpl

Command Prompt control userpasswords


Windows XP fully supports multiple users, each with his or her own Start menu, Desktop, My Documents folder, color and display theme preferences, application settings, and other odds and ends. Each user has a password and a home directory (located in \Documents and Settings\{username}), under which all of the user’s personal files and folders are stored.

If you have the Home edition of Windows XP, support for multiple users basically ends there. However, Windows XP Professional edition has a more advanced and comprehensive system for managing user accounts.

In Windows XP Professional, some users can be more privileged than others. Administrators have complete control over the system and can run any program, install or remove hardware and software, change any setting, and create, remove, and modify other user accounts. You can also set up “Limited” user accounts, such as the Guest account, which allow others to use your computer without being able to read or modify any of your password-protected files (see Chapter 7) or make any changes to the system. In Windows XP Home edition, all users are considered Administrators.

The User Accounts window is extremely simple and all features are fairly self-explanatory. The main window displays all of the configured users (see Figure 4-106).

Figure 4-106. All configured users are shown in the User Accounts window

It also has three options:

Change an account

Use this to change your password or picture (the icon shown next to your user account on the Welcome screen). If a user account has no password defined, you’ll see “Create Password” here instead of the standard “Change Password.” Administrators can change any account, but nonadministrators can only make changes to their own accounts.

Create a new account

Adds a new account to the system. If you have several people in your home or office who share the same computer, create a separate account for each person. If you don’t really care about security, make them all Administrators (which is the only option in Windows XP Home edition); otherwise, choose “Limited” and follow the prompts on the screen.

Usernames can be anything, as long as they’re not the same as pre-existing usernames. If you’re connecting two or more computers over a standard peer-to-peer network and would like to be able to share files and printers between them, you’ll need to create accounts that match the currently logged on user on each machine. For example, if a user named Seymour, using a Windows 98 machine, wishes to connect to a Windows XP machine on the network, a user account named “Seymour” (with the same password) must exist on the Windows XP machine.

Windows XP Professional also has a preconfigured “Guest” account. This extremely limited account is perfect for one-time users because there’s no setup and no password is required. The Guest account can be turned off or on with the “Change an account” link, shown above.

Change the way users log on or off

Turn off the “Use the Welcome screen” option (the default is on) if you want the classic logon screen, similar to the one found in Windows 2000 (see Figure 4-107). The Welcome screen allows users to log on by simply clicking their icon and, if applicable, typing a password. The classic logon screen, however, is considered more secure because users must type their username as well as the password to log on. Click “Logon options” in the “Learn About” section for a preview.

Figure 4-107. Turn off the Welcome screen to use the older Shut Down and Logon screens found in earlier versions of Windows

Note also that the Welcome screen/classic logon screen option also changes the style of the Shut Down screen. If the Welcome screen is used, the last entry on your Start menu will be " Turn off the Computer,” with three choices: Stand By, Turn Off, and Restart. If the classic logon screen is used, the last entry in the Start menu will be "Shut Down,” with five options: Log Off, Shut Down, Restart, Stand By, and Hibernate.

The "Use Fast User Switching” option, available only if the “Use the Welcome screen” option is enabled, speeds up the process of switching between users by not closing applications when a user logs out. Thus, unless the computer is shut down, any applications and documents that were open the last time you used the computer would still be open when you logged back in.


  • All the settings in this dialog are also covered in Chapter 5.

  • More user account options can be found in the Local Users and Groups console (lusrmgr.msc; see “Microsoft Management Console”, earlier in this chapter).

  • If you want to configure Windows to start up without asking for a username and password each time, you’ll need TweakUI (see Appendix D); choose Autologon from the Logon category and type your username and password into the fields provided.

  • If you have multiple users configured and switch between them frequently, you might appreciate the Fast User Switcher (see Appendix D).

  • Go to Control Panel [Performance and Maintenance] System Advanced tab and click Settings in the User Profiles section to view additional information about active user accounts. See “System Properties”, earlier in this chapter, for details.

  • If you have only a single Administrator account, it’s called something other than “Administrator,” and you try to create another account, a bug in the User Accounts program causes it to think there is currently no Administrator and it will only allow you to create a new Administrator account.

See Also

“Control Panel”

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