There are plenty of good reasons to auto log in to your computer. For one, with an automatic login, you no longer need to enter your password every day, speeding up the impression of how long it takes your computer to start.
Of course, there are also several reasons not to set up your computer to auto log in. The most important reason is that you’ll lose the ability to secure your files from others that have physical access to your computer.
However, if security isn’t an issue, we must say that being able to have Windows fully start, without having to sign in, is pretty handy…and easy to do. It’s something you can configure in just a few minutes.
You can configure Windows to auto log in by making changes to a program called the Advanced User Accounts Control Panel applet (which, depending on your version of Windows, is neither an applet nor available in Control Panel).
How to Automatically Log On to Windows
Open the Advanced User Accounts program.
To do this in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, or Windows Vista, enter the following command in the Run dialog box via WIN+R or from the Power User Menu (in Windows 10 or 8), followed by a tap or click of the OK button:
A different command is used in Windows XP:
You can also open Command Prompt and do the same if you’d rather, but using Run is probably a bit quicker overall. In Windows 10, you can also just search for netplwiz using the search/Cortana interface.
Technically, this program is called the Advanced User Accounts Control Panel, but it’s not really a Control Panel applet and you won’t find it in Control Panel. To make it more confusing, the title of the windows says just User Accounts.
Uncheck the box next to Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer from the Users tab.
Select OK at the bottom of the window.
When the Automatically sign in box appears, enter the username you wish to use for your automatic login, followed by the password in the next two boxes.
For Windows 10 auto login or Windows 8 auto login, if you’re using a Microsoft account, be sure to enter the entire email address that you use to sign into Windows with, in the User name field. The defaults there might instead be the name associated with your account, not your actual username.
Select OK to save and close the open windows.
Restart your computer and make sure that Windows automatically logs you in. You may catch a glimpse of the sign-in screen, but only long enough to see it log you in without you having to type anything!
Are you a Desktop lover looking to speed up your Windows 8 boot process even more? In Windows 8.1 or later you can make Windows start directly to the Desktop, skipping the Start screen. See How to Boot to the Desktop in Windows 8.1 for instructions.
How to Use Auto Login in a Domain Scenario
You won’t be able to configure your Windows computer to use an auto login in exactly the way described above if your computer is a member of a domain.
In a domain login situation, which is common in larger business networks, your credentials are stored on a server run by your company’s IT department, not on the Windows PC you’re using. This complicates the Windows auto login setup process a little bit, but it’s still possible.
Here’s how to get that checkbox from Step 2 (instructions above) to appear so you can check it:
Open Registry Editor which, in most versions of Windows, is most easily done by executing regedit from the search box after you select the Start button.
While following the steps below exactly should be perfectly safe, it’s highly recommended that you back up the registry prior to making the changes.
If you’re in an entirely separate location in the Windows Registry when you open it, just scroll to the very top on the left side until you see Computer, and then collapse each hive until you reach HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.
Continue drilling down through the nested registry keys, first to Microsoft, then Windows NT, then CurrentVersion, and then finally Winlogon.
With Winlogon selected on the left, locate the registry value of AutoAdminLogon on the right.
Double-click AutoAdminLogon and change the Value data to 1 from 0.
Restart your computer and then follow the standard Windows auto-login procedure outlined above.
That should work, but if not, you may have to manually add a few additional registry values yourself. It’s not too difficult.
Work back to Winlogon in the Windows registry, as outlined above from Step 1 through Step 3.
Add the string values of DefaultDomainName, DefaultUserName, and DefaultPassword, assuming they don’t already exist.
Set the Value data as your domain, user name, and password, respectively.
Restart your computer and test to see that you can use the auto login without entering your normal Windows credentials.
Is It Safe to Auto Log In to Windows?
As great as it sounds to be able to skip over that sometimes-annoying login process when Windows starts, it’s not always a good idea. In fact, it may even be a bad idea, and here’s why: computers are less and less physically secure.
If your Windows computer is a desktop and that desktop is in your home, which is probably locked and otherwise secure, then setting up automatic logon is probably a relatively safe thing to do.
On the other hand, if you’re using a Windows laptop, netbook, tablet, or another portable computer that often leaves your home, we highly recommend that you don’t configure it to automatically log in.
The login screen is the first defense your computer has from a user that shouldn’t have access. If your computer is stolen and you’ve configured it to skip right over that basic protection, the thief will have access to everything you have on it—email, social networks, other passwords, bank accounts, and more.
Also, if your computer has more than one user account and you configure an auto login for one of those accounts, you (or the account holder) will need to log off or switch users from your automatically logged in account to use the other user account.
In other words, if you have more than one user on your computer and you choose to auto log in to your account, you’re actually slowing down the other user’s experience.