Show all user accounts each time you boot Windows 8

You need to click the arrow to see all the available user accounts

This gallery is also available as a post in the TechRepublic Windows and Office Blog.

Do you have multiple accounts set up on your Windows 8 system? If so, then you know that each time that you start your system, the Windows 8 Sign on screen will display the account of the last person to sign on the system. If you want to login as a different user, then you must click the arrow to go back to a Sign on screen that displays all of the available user accounts.

For example, on my test system, I have three user accounts. When I start up Windows 8 and get to the Sign on screen, I see the user account that I used last. In this case Greg Shultz. If I want to sign in with one of the other accounts, I must click the arrow next to my account picture. As soon as I do, the Sign on screen will display all of my user accounts. This is illustrated in Figure A.

While this is a simple procedure, I've heard quite a few complaints about not being able to immediately see all user accounts on the Sign on screen. They then cite the fact that Windows 7's Log on screen always displayed all of the available user accounts.

So I set out to find a way make Windows 8 show all user accounts on the Sign on screen all the time. At first I thought that it would be as simple as changing a Group Policy or Security Policy setting, but that isn't the case.

I then turned to the registry and found a key containing a simple value I could change from a 0 to a 1 that would indeed do the trick. However, I discovered that it would only work once. I could change the registry value, restart the system, and the Sign on screen would show all user accounts. Restart again and the Sign on screen would show only the last used account. This would play out each time I changed the value.

I then learned that Windows 8 considers that particular registry value to be a system setting and even though you are allowed to change it, the operating system automatically changes it back to the default value as soon as you sign on.

Since you can change that value without any repercussions, I then set out to find a way to automate the process, such that the value would be changed every time you sign on or sign off. I then recalled a technique that I created for Windows Vista in which I used Task Scheduler to launch UAC restricted programs at startup. The Task Scheduler technique worked! Now, every time that I start Windows 8, the Sign on screen shows all user accounts.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to implement the full technique from changing the registry value to employing Task Scheduler to automate the procedure. Keep in mind that while automating the procedure is the ultimate goal, I am going to delve into the registry so that you will understand what is happening in the background.

Note:Keep in mind that the first account that you set up on your Windows 8 system is by default an Administrator account. When you set up additional accounts they will be, by default, set up as Standard user accounts. In order to perform the steps shown in this article, you must be signed in to an account that has Administrator privileges.

Credit: Images by Greg Shultz for TechRepublic

By Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.