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Issue #695: November 15-21, 2020

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Q: I read “A tale of 3 passwords” (Geek Note: This is presumably referring to I.G.T.M. Issue #676, July 5, 2020) and your explanation was good until you told the user to add the username and password “that will automatically be used for future sign-ins.” I had no idea what to enter so I created a new username and password.  Big mistake as that didn’t work.  Apparently, I had to use a Microsoft password that I created previously for some other purpose. Luckily, I found it and because I had such a hard time even creating a Microsoft password the new password was something like [redacted] and it worked after I restarted the computer. So, I was very happy. Then I started on this message and walked away from my computer for an hour. I came back and tried to use the computer and sure enough it asked me for my 4-digit pin. I will try it again but I will lose this message, so I am going to send it to you.

 – Dan S.
(Somewhere in) Florida

A: First, I want to say that I’m not usually the one who writes the headline or title for my articles when they appear in print.  So, I had to track down the issue to which you were referring.

A major point that seems to have escaped you is that the only thing this process does for you is eliminate the need to enter a password when Windows starts.  That doesn’t mean that usernames go out the window (pun intended).  No matter what configuration you’re using, Windows uses the username under which you’re logged-in to determine such critical information as the default location where all your files get stored, and beyond that, your personal customizations which includes everything from your desktop wallpaper, to the color and appearance of your windows, to the bookmarks in your browser.

With that in mind, I hope you can understand the futility of creating a wholly separate user account and password for the login process.  Let’s suppose that you normally log into your system with an account named User1.  When you do this, the system is configured using the User1 profile, which sets up a number of special directories unique to User1, not the least of which are Documents, Pictures, Music, and more.  Everything is personalized.  Now you go and set up account AutoLogin to automate the sign-in process.  When you use it, you’ll find yourself in Windows, but not with your User1 account’s customizations.  Instead, you’ll have the customizations for the AutoLogin account.  You might be able to force the system to give you access to the files, and you can re-create the appearance and customizations of the User1 account, but that’s completely unnecessary.

If you’ll take a look back at Issue 676, you’ll see I never said to “add” a user account, as your question implies.  What I said was “you will be prompted for the username and password that will automatically be used for future sign-ins.”  The dialog that pops up explains this further by saying “You can set up your computer so that users do not have to type a user name and password to sign in.  To do this, specify a user that will be automatically signed in below”.  You’re supposed to enter the name and password for an existing account, not add another one.  Once you do that, Windows will use the combination of that Username and Password for future logins, without prompting you.

I am not really sure what happens if you have a PIN setup – that one is on Microsoft.  Although, it seems to me that if you want to configure a system to automatically log you in, the PIN is somewhat redundant, and should be disabled to allow the defined password to be automatically used.

The second problem you described was that your computer prompted you for credentials when it returned from sleep mode.  That is to be expected, as this is a separate configuration item from Windows startup.  To prevent your computer from prompting you when it wakes-up from sleep, perform the following steps:  Click the Windows Start button, and in the search box, enter “Sign-in options”.  The search result will display it in the right-hand pane.  Click “Open”.  Scroll down to where it says “Require sign-in”.  Change the drop-down from “When PC wakes up from sleep” to “Never” then close the dialog.  If you followed all the procedures correctly, your system should no longer bother you for your credentials unless it needs elevated privilege for an Administrator function.

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