Three ways to fix Windows 10 password problems

Change from your Microsoft login to another password, or set up a PIN or a local account.

Abdi Hamid Malik upgraded to Windows 10, and it changed his login password to his Hotmail password. (Hotmail passwords are also Microsoft passwords.)

Microsoft really wants to attach your Windows environment to your online Microsoft account. Whether you think it’s a good thing depends on how you balance convenience with privacy—and how much you trust Microsoft.

But even if you vote for convenience, you may not want to log in with your Microsoft password, which may be harder to remember or type than a Windows login password.

Here are three solutions:

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

Change Microsoft password

If your Microsoft password is too difficult to type every time you boot or wake up your PC, change it to something simple.

But not too simple. Online passwords are more prone to hacking than local ones. It should still be long, complex (letters, numbers, punctuation), and impossible to guess—even if it’s also easy to remember and type.

If you come up with such a password, go to www.microsoft.com. Log in if need be. Click your avatar in the upper-right corner and select View Account.

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(About that Viking helmet…it’s a long story.)

On the resulting page, click Change password, then follow the instructions.

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Use a PIN

You don’t have to use your Microsoft password to log into Windows 10. You can use a PIN instead.

How can a PIN, which contains only numbers, be as safe as a password that can contain numbers, letters (upper- and lower-case), and punctuation? By staying local. Your PIN doesn’t travel the Internet where it’s more likely to be hacked.

Another layer of protection: A Windows 10 PIN isn’t restricted to four digits. You could use six digits, or seven, or ten. Remember that each additional digit makes the PIN ten times harder to crack.

To make the change, click your avatar at the top of the Start menu and select Change Account Settings.

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Select Sign-in options in the left pane, then click the Add button in the PIN section and follow directions.

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One note: You may, from time to time, need to use your Microsoft password instead of your PIN—for instance, if you boot into Safe Mode. So don’t forget it.

Use a local account

Your Windows 10 logon doesn’t have to be your Microsoft account. You can convert it to a local account, instead.

But you’ll lose a few features. Windows won’t work as seamlessly with OneDrive, and Cortana doesn’t work with a local account. And you’ll have to log into your Microsoft account in the Store app.

To localize your account, open Change Account Settings as described above. In the Your account section, select Sign in with a local account instead and follow the directions.

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You won’t be allowed to use your Microsoft logon name. And you can use any password you want.

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