5/14/04 Abracadabra, Windows logon box, begone!
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) - 5/12/04 12:42 PM
Below you will find Chriss full answer to last week question. I have also included this weeks honorable mentions, which included a lot of useful and well-written answers submitted by our members. We hope this helps you out W.A.F. of Bogot, D.C., Colombia
Thank you everyone for time and efforts to help out our members with their questions!
How do I eliminate the dialog box, which appears on booting up Windows XP and asks for a password, and go directly to the desktop instead?
Submitted by W.A.F. of Bogot, D.C., Colombia
Disabling Windows XP Logon screen:
There are four conditions necessary to disable the Windows Logon screen:
1 There must be only two accounts on the computer, the administrator and the guest account.
2 There must be no password for the administrator account.
3 The guest account must be turned off.
4 The welcome screen must be turned on.
First step: is delete all user accounts except the administrator and guest accounts. Note: Windows XP requires that at least one account must be an administrative account; also you cannot delete the guest account. When you delete user accounts, their email and favorites will be lost, so you must export or back up this information if you wish to save it. Windows will give you the option of saving the user's desktop and "My Documents" to a new folder on your desktop under the deleted accounts name.
To delete accounts, logon as administrator then click start/ settings/ control panel and click user accounts. Then click "change an account" Click on the account you want to delete, then click delete account. Here is where you have the option to save that account's "My documents" folder and desktop. If you wish to keep these files click "Keep files", if not click "Delete files". Do this for all accounts except the administrator and the guest account.
Step two: is to remove the password from the administrator account. Note: You need only follow this step if you administrator account is password protected. To determine if your administrator account is password protected, simple look for the words, Password protected" Under the accounts name. To do this follow the instructions in step one to reach user accounts in the control panel. Click on the administrator account and then click "Remove my password". You will be prompter to enter your password on the next screen. Enter your password then click, "Remove password"
Step three: Turning off the guest account. Navigate back to "User accounts" in the control panel. If the guest account is turned on click it then click on "Turn off the guest account"
Step four: Turning on the welcome screen. Navigate back to the "user account screen" as described above. Click "Change the way users log on or off" Then make sure there is a check mark next to "Use the welcome screen". Then click "Apply options". Note: Leaving "Use the welcome screen" unchecked will bring up the enter password screen during boot up, even though you have previously deleted the password from your account.
Submitted by: Chris L. of Long Branch, NJ
**** HONORABLE MENTIONS: ****
OK, there are a few different ways to do this; they allow for different
situations, as I explain below. In all cases you have to be the system
administrator to alter these settings. These instructions are generally for
Option 1: This is useful if there is only one user account on the machine.
1) Open the Window's Control Panel (Settings>Control Panel on your Start
Menu), and choose the "User Accounts" panel.
2) Choose the "Change an account" option, then select your account.
3) Choose the "Remove my password" option and follow the instructions (you
may already have no password, and in that case skip this step).
4) Use the back button to go back to the "User Accounts ... Pick a task"
page, then choose the "Change the way users log on or off" option.
5) Uncheck "Use Fast User Switching" and apply the change.
Your system should now go straight to your desktop.
Option 2: Automatically logon to a specific account. This is perhaps more
useful as it lets you use apps which require user authentification (Window's
"Scheduled Tasks" for instance). You do need to install an extra program
from Microsoft here, but it's free and very useful anyway.
1) Go to Microsoft's PowerToys XP page:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/downloads/powertoys.asp and from the
downloads column on the right get Tweak UI. Install it!
2) Run the newly installed app (it'll be on your start menu), and choose the
"+" by "Logon" from the list on the left.
3) Select the "Autologon" sub-option.
4) Tick the "Logon automatically at system startup" check box, and fill in
the required user name and password.
5) Click "OK" to save the changes and close Tweak UI.
Your system now instantly logs on itself. Note that you can still logoff
which means other user accounts are still accessible.
I hope that helps;
Submitted by: Rob N.
One of the settings in Microsoft's free tool "TweakUI" allows you to make Window's logon automatic.
The version described here is the latest as of 5/9/04 intended for XP and Windows 2003, with procedures outlined for the "first time" user.
(Know these before you begin)
...No Windows version installs TweakUI by default. However, in case someone else installed it for you, Select "Start Menu", "Settings", "Control Panel", "Add or Remove Programs", checking this list for a TweakUI install. If listed, Microsoft suggests uninstalling it before installing the new version.
...TweakUI only "uses" preset login names and passwords. It does not change, create, or delete them.
...TweakUI's auto-logon function is a "Safe Set", meaning, if set incorrectly, the auto-logon simply won't work with no ill effects to the system.
...TweakUI in any version is a Microsoft "Tech-Tool", used to change Windows functions. Experimenting with TweakUI's additional settings without reading up on them can produce some undesirable effects, but when used correctly, TweakUI is a must have tool.
1) DOWNLOAD TWEAKUI FOR XP/2003
Go to Microsoft's Website, Microsoft.com.
At the top right of their page, type into the "Search" field, (tweakui xp) without the brackets and select "go".
Next page; choose the top line offering, "PowerToys for Microsoft Windows XP".
Next page; at the right, select "tweakui.exe", the 3rd selection 147 KB file.
You'll be prompt to save the file to your computer.
Selecting "Save" prompts you to "Save As" and shows your current "Save to" directory.
You can change this, saving to another location, or keep as is. Either way, remember where it's saving to because you'll need to get to it later. Once saved, exit the net.
2) INSTALLING TWEAKUI
(Note: The downloaded file name will not be "tweakui.exe" but rather "TweakUiPowertoySetup.exe". It's common for users to loose the download location. If you can't find the file, bring up the Start Menu / Search / For Files and Folders, and enter ( tweakui ) without the brackets into the search field. If the download was successful, "Search" will find it for you. You can install it from the search results window.)
To install TweakUI, Right Click on "TweakUiPowertoySetup.exe", select "Open", and install.
After TweakUI installs, find TweakUI's shortcut in your Start Menu / All Programs / PowerToys For Windows / Tweak UI, and select it.
3) SETTING AUTO-LOGON IN TWEAKUI
In TweakUI's left window, select the (+) to the left of "Logon" then select "AutoLogon".
Check the box, "Log On Automatically at System Startup".
Enter the Login name you use into "User Name" (case and punctuation sensitive).
If you do not use a password, skip the password entry, "Apply and OK".
If you do use a password, use "set password", enter it (case sensitive), "Apply and OK".
4) RESTART YOUR COMPUTER
If your logon name and password fields were entered correctly, you'll go directly to your desktop during boot.
You can toggle the auto-logon function off/on using TweakUI's "Auto Logon" check box, leaving the name and password as is, or you can hold down the "Left Shift" key during boot-ups, preventing automatic logon, requiring manual password entry for that boot.
If you ever change your Login Name and/or Password, you'll have to reset TweakUI to reflect the same.
Check TweakUI's "About / Tips" for some quick tips using TweakUI.
Submitted by: Robert B. of Newport, TN
To slip by the Welcome Screen and log on to Windows XP automatically can
be done two ways . . . through the Users Applet GUI, or through a
CAVEAT ABOUT AUTOMATICALLY LOGGING INTO THE ADMINISTRATORS ACCOUNT
But firstly, I must question the wisdom of circumventing the Windows XP
security model for the sake of a moments convenience. Windows XP (and
its' forerunners Windows 2000 and Windows NT) were designed with the
idea of limiting a users' access to those rights and permissions
appropriate for the level of work they do on the machine (and a single
user does perform more than one role on his or her computer). The
concept of an 'Administrator' able to do anything on a computer, and of
a 'Limited' user whose rights are sharply curtailed is a cornerstone of
a security principle called 'Least Privilege.'
To hone in this idea . . . you might take a trip and carry ALL of your
identification papers, credit cards, birth certificate, social security
card and all of the cash you planned on spending on your trip in your
wallet, obviously bulging in your back pocket. What an inviting target
you would make to a pickpocket. That is what you are doing when you log
on to your computer as an Administrator. Everything is there to take
complete control of your system should you become compromised.
Alternatively, you could be a street-savvy traveler and carry only those
documents necessary for travel, locking up passports in hotel safes,
carrying the bulk of your cash as travelers checks, and taking advantage
of under-the-shirt money belts. Now, if you were pickpocketted, what
would the thief have? Not much and probably not enough to steal your
identity and ruin your vacation. This is the idea behind 'Limited'
users. The user just doesn't have the permissions and rights to do
serious damage to the system . . . least privilege.
Even if your computer has only one user, yourself, you can still assign
roles for each session. The Administrator account can DO ANYTHING on
the computer and anyone who compromises you while you are logged in as
an Administrator can do likewise. If you are logged in with Limited
rights and permissions . . . and are then compromised, then the attacker
can only do what you as a 'limited' user can do. It is a very important
Unfortunately, most users do not take advantage of this 'concept of
least privilege'. Windows XP requires at least one Administrator
account be established when it is installed and that is as far as
account maintenance usually goes. Few computer users ever bother to
establish non-administrator accounts and, instead, dive right into
surfing the web like a tourist wandering into the most unsavory part of
town with a bulging wallet just screaming to be stolen.
The first thing a user should do immediately after installing Windows XP
or bringing that shiny new multi-gigahertz machine home from the store,
is to establish a Limited Account for day-to-day computing uses (like
web surfing). The Administrator account should never be automatically
signed into for any reason . . . it should be a conscious step for those
occasions needed for installation of programs and maintenance of the
computer. If you desire to automatically sign into Windows XP (and
bypass the Welcome Screen), you should do so with a Limited Account.
There is also one more consideration to keep in mind with automatic
login. The password (if any assigned) of the automatic login account is
kept in clear text in the registry and can be read by anyone with access
to the registry (either locally or through remote registry access).
As long as you understand the rights granted the account you wish to
automatically logon with, here is the procedure:
Manually through a graphical user interface (GUI):
NOTE: Use must be logged on as Administrator to make these changes.
1. Click on the Start Menu the on Run; enter "control userpasswords2"
(without the quote marks)
2. The User Accounts Dialog Box opens. Select the Users Tab
3. Uncheck the 'Users must enter a user name and password to use this
computer' check box
4. Select the Advanced Tab
5. Clear the 'Require users to press Ctrl-Alt-Del before logging on'
check box (if it is not already unchecked
6. Click the 'Apply' button
7. A dialog box will open asking you for user name and password. Choose
the user name and password combination for a Limited Account rather than
an Administrator for best security practices
8. Finally, click OK
9. Reboot and your computer should skip the Welcome Screen and
automatically log onto the account you specified in step #7
Should you need to login as Administrator (or another user's account)
hold down the Shift key after you log off or as Windows restarts.
If, at some time in the future you find a need to require logins, simply
retrace the steps above and place a check mark in step #3.
Note: Microsoft's TweakUI
(http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/downloads/powertoys.asp) has an
AutoLogon option that can be set to do the same thing as above. TweakUI
is unsupported by Microsoft.
The steps to enable AutoLogon through a registry hack are somewhat
daunting but you can read the steps here
you feel brave.
Though I can understand the hassle of requiring a logon on a system that
has only one user . . . I cannot over stress the importance of using
Limited Accounts for day-to-day activities. Your computer came with an
Administrator account . . . now create yourself a Limited account and
use that to automatically login to Windows XP.
Submitted by Rick of Seattle, WA