Windows 8

Using picture passwords in Windows RT

Typing in a password of decent strength can be irritating when using Windows RT. Fortunately, Microsoft has included an alternative: Picture passwords.

It's a rare Windows 8 computer that doesn't have you typing your password as your computer returns from its sleep state.

From a security point of view, this is sensible, but if you have strong passwords of a decent length that contain letters, numbers, and punctuation, it can quickly become irritating to repeatedly enter them – especially if you need to switch screen keyboards to get access to numbers and symbols.

pic_password.png

Windows 8 offers another method for device security: Picture passwords.  If you select the Settings Charm, Change PC Settings, and then Users, you'll see the option to create a picture password.

Once selected, you'll be prompted to re-enter your password and then asked to choose a picture.  The picture can be anything on your device, and will appear instead of the normal password prompt when your computer starts.

Having selected a picture, you'll be prompted to select three gestures: Circles, straight lines, or taps. The size, position, and direction of the gestures will be your new password.  You can make it as simple as three taps on different parts of the picture or a combination of the gesture types.

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Once you have recorded three gestures, you'll be asked to repeat them to set the picture password.  If you make a mistake, you'll be given hints until you manage to repeat the gestures successfully.  Your picture password is then set, and the next time you need to sign in to the computer, you'll see the picture you selected waiting for gestures and an option to switch to the normal text password.  If you don't have a touchscreen, the gestures also work with the mouse, although circles are a little more difficult.

If you are worried about the relative security of picture passwords versus text, then this blog might reassure you.  In it, Jeff Johnson, the director of development for the Windows 8 user experience team, covers the issue in detail. 

To summarise the advice, always choose a picture with at least 10 points of interest, combine gestures, and vary their size and direction.  A useful tip is to always keep your touchscreen clean to prevent any smudges that may reveal your gestures – although these are likely to be buried under all your normal touch gestures.  Of course, the normal practices for text passwords should also be followed, such as changing your picture and gestures regularly.

I've been using a picture password on my Surface RT for a few months, and I'm much happier with using three gestures than typing in a strong text password.  I've also just changed my desktop over to a picture password using a mouse instead of touch, and that's also a small relief.

If, like me, you're tired of typing passwords but don't want to lower your security settings, consider a picture password instead.




About

Tony is the owner and managing director of Microcraft eLearning and is one of the creators of the AUTHOR eLearning Development System.

6 comments
Cherisza
Cherisza

Thanks for sharing this useful tips about how to use picture password in Windows RT. But when I use the Windows, my biggest problem is to forget my Windows login password, finally I use a smart Windows password key from this site: http://t.co/hPys28aeN2

Roberto Vanegas Rudas
Roberto Vanegas Rudas

I just save password in an 'anonymous' page in Word, copy and paste it when I need it.

erikaford
erikaford

Oh joy! The picture passwords work!

By the way, on the subject of new functions with Windows 8, our new Windows 8.1 update on our phones has delivered a much needed improvement for aging eyes - the ability to enlarge font size on display. Found under Settings > Ease of Access.

erikaford
erikaford

Jumping in and out of the computer each day I must admit the need to retype long passwords gives me the pip, just to wake up the machine. Then it's a matter of more passwords to accomplish entry to Office 365; banking, social media sites etc., so I'm up for a change, particularly when I feel secure in our security provision. Liking this change, all I need to do is actually implement it. I know, I was wary about internet banking there for a while too!

TRgscratch
TRgscratch

I found the "ten points of interest" point compelling.  in the commercials, the pictures have only three obvious points of interest, which concerned me.  I have use picture password on my Surface RT for several months now successfully  My picture is a music score - who knows what my three favorite notes might be?

Interesting, there doesn't appear to be an 'expiration' on the picture password (forcing you to change the gestures or use a different picture) after a specific time - have I missed a setting somewhere?

Shawn Quinn
Shawn Quinn

constantly locking yourself out because the lines you sweep/draw aren't exactly the same each time? letters and numbers are buttons. Always the same. A simple sequence.