Uh-oh, you’ve forgotten your Windows 10 password. Maybe you recently changed it and can’t recall the new password. Perhaps you entered what you think is the correct password, but Windows just won’t accept it. Windows 10 offers other login methods, such as a PIN, a fingerprint scan, and facial recognition. But even if you can sign in with one of these other methods, you still need to have a working password, which means you need to reset it if you forget it.

The process differs based on your account type. Naturally, if you sign into Windows with a domain or network account through your organization, then you’ll need to contact your help desk or IT support to reset your password. For our purposes here, though, let’s say you use a Microsoft Account or a local account on your own laptop or desktop computer.

You can reset the password for a Microsoft Account from the Windows 10 login screen or from your Microsoft Account webpage. Resetting the password for a local account initially required a password reset disk that you’d have to set up on a USB drive. But since 2018, you’ve been able to reset a local password by creating certain security questions and answers beforehand. Let’s look at your options.

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How to reset the password for your Microsoft Account

At the Windows 10 login screen, click the link for I Forgot My Password (Figure A).

Figure A

Windows login screen with cursor hovering over Forgot my Password

At the screen to Verify Your Identity, click the dropdown menu to choose how you want to receive a code to confirm your identity. You can opt to receive it via an email to your primary address or by a text to your mobile phone, both of which you should have set up when you created your Microsoft Account.

Choose the option you wish, and then type your full email address or the last four digits of your phone number in the next field. Click the button for Get Code (Figure B).

Figure B

Windows indentity verification screen with info blurred out

Check your email or mobile phone for the code. At the next screen, enter that code. Click Next. At the next screen to Reset Your Password, type a new password for your Microsoft Account. Click Next (Figure C).

Figure C

Windows Reset your password screen

The next screen tells you that your password has been changed successfully. Click Next. You’re returned to the Windows 10 login screen where you can enter your new password to sign in (Figure D).

Figure D

Windows login screen with password filled out

You can also reset your Microsoft Account password from Microsoft’s website, a handy option if you don’t have access to your Windows 10 device or need to sign into your account on the web. Browse to the Microsoft Account website. Click the Sign In button. At the Sign In window, type your email address. Click Next. At the password window, click the link for Forgot My Password (Figure E)

Figure E

Microsoft login window

Now, choose whether you want to receive the security code by email or by text message. Type your full email address or the last four digits of your phone number depending on which option you choose. Click the Get Code button (Figure F).

Figure F

Microsoft account verification window

At the next screen, enter the code you receive via email or text. Click Next (Figure G).

Figure G

Microsoft verification field

At the next screen, type and then retype your new password, and then sign into Windows 10 with the new password (Figure H).

Figure H

Microsoft password reset window

Reset the password for your local account

Maybe you use a local account on one of your Windows 10 computers, and you want to make sure you can reset your password if you ever forget it. When you first set up Windows with a local account, you’re prompted to choose three security questions. Pick the first question, and then type an answer. Do the same for the second and third questions. When done, click Next (Figure I).

Figure I

Windows security question window

If you need to update your security questions or answers in Windows 10, go to Settings, select Accounts, and then select the setting for Sign-in Options. Click the option for Password. Then, click the link for Update Your Security Questions, and make whatever changes you wish (Figure J).

Figure J

Windows Sign-in options menu

At some point, you forget your local password. At the Windows 10 login screen, type what you think is your password. If it’s wrong, Windows displays a link for Reset Password. Click that link. Type the answer for each of the three security questions. Click Submit after the third answer (Figure K).

Figure K

windows login security questions for resetting a password for a local account

Create and then confirm a new password. Click the Submit arrow to sign in (Figure L).

Figure L

Windows login screen with the password filled out