Windows XP / Beginners

Control Panel's User Accounts Icon

Windows XP has a number of methods for working with user accounts. The most direct route is to launch Control Panel's User Accounts icon. If you're using a standalone or workgroup computer, you'll see the User Accounts window, which we'll discuss in this section. (Domain-based computers display the User Accounts dialog box, which we discuss in the next section.)

If you're a member of the Administrators or Power Users group, you create a new user account by clicking the Create A New Account link, entering a name for the account (don't use spaces), and then clicking Next. Windows XP then asks you to choose the account type. Note that you have only two choices here: Computer Administrator (Administrators group) or Limited (Users group). Make your choice and click Create Account.

To modify an existing account, click the account in the User Accounts window to see a list of tasks for changing the account. (If you're a member of the Users or Guests group, launching Control Panel's User Accounts icon takes you directly to the task list.) Depending on your account's privileges, you can then change the account name, create or change the account password, change the picture associated with the account, change the account type, apply a .NET Passport to the account, or delete the account.

The User Accounts Dialog Box

Control Panel's User Accounts window has one major limitation: It offers only the Administrator and Limited (Users) account types. If you want to assign a user to one of the other groups, you need to use the User Accounts dialog box. You get there by entering the command control userpasswords2 in the Run dialog box.

To enable the list of users, make sure the Users Must Enter A User Name And Password To Use This Computer check box is selected. You can now perform the following tasks:

  • Add a new user Click Add to launch the Add New User Wizard. You use the first two dialog boxes to specify the user's name and password. You use the third and final dialog box to specify the user's security group: Standard User (Power Users group), Restricted User (Users group), or Other. Select Other to assign the user to any of the nine default Windows XP groups.
  • Delete a user Select the user and click Remove.
  • Change the user's name or group Select the user's name and click Properties. The resulting property sheet enables you to change the user's name and assign the user to a different group.
  • Change the user's password Select the user's name and click Reset Password. (Note that this option is not enabled for the Administrator account.)

Tip How do you change the Administrator password? If you have the Welcome screen disabled (as described earlier) and have logged on as Administrator, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to display the Windows Security dialog box, and then click Change Password. If the Welcome screen is enabled, use the NET USER command (described later in this tutorial). You can also use the Local Users And Groups snap-in, discussed next.

On the Advanced tab, click the Advanced button to select the Local Users And Groups snap-in (discussed in the next section). Also, you can force users to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete before logging on by selecting the Require Users To Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete check box. (Note that this check box will be cleared if you applied the Do Not Require CTRL+ALT+DEL policy discussed earlier in this tutorial.)

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