Windows XP / Beginners

Setting Up an Automatic Logon

If you're using a standalone computer that no one else has access to (or that will be used by people you trust), you can save some time at startup by not having to type a user name and password. In this scenario, the easiest way to do this is to set up Windows XP with just a single user account, which means Windows XP will log on that user automatically at startup. If you have multiple user accounts (for testing purposes, for example), or if you want the Administrator account to be logged on automatically, then you need to set up Windows XP for automatic logons.

Previous versions of Windows required you to edit the registry to set up an automatic logon, but this capability is built into Windows XP. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. In the Run dialog box, enter control userpasswords2 and press Enter. Windows XP displays the User Accounts dialog box, which we'll discuss in more detail later in this tutorial (see "The User Accounts Dialog Box").
  2. On the Users tab, clear the Users Must Enter A User Name And Password To Use This Computer check box.
  3. Click OK. Windows XP prompts you to specify the account you want to log on automatically.
  4. Fill in the User Name, Password, and Confirm Password text boxes and then click OK.

If you have Tweak UI, open the Logon, Autologon setting and select the Log On Automatically At System Startup check box. Enter the user name, the domain (your computer name), and click Set Password to enter the account password. When you click OK, Tweak UI makes some changes in the following registry key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\

The AutoAdminLogon value is set to 1; your user name appears in the DefaultUserName setting; your computer name appears in the DefaultDomainName setting. Note that previous versions of Tweak UI stored your password in the DefaultPassword setting. Your password appeared as plain text, so anyone could have read it or even changed it. Tweak UI for Windows XP is more secure because it stores your password in the Local Security Authority database, which is the Windows XP component that manages and validates local security credentials.

Tip You can temporarily suspend the automatic logon by holding down the Shift key while Windows XP starts up.

If you want the automatic logon to occur a set number of times only, open the following registry key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\

Create a new string setting named AutoLogonCount and set its value to the number of times you want the automatic logon to occur. With each logon, Windows XP decrements this setting until it reaches zero, at which point Windows XP sets AutoAdminLogon to 0 to disable the automatic logon.

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