Windows 8 Login Options: MS Account, PIN or Picture Password

Options for Logging In

Much like an AppleID or Google account, you need to have a Microsoft account to utilize any online features within Windows 8.

By default, when you turn on your Windows 8 computer for the first time it will ask you to sign into your Microsoft account. If you don’t already have one, you can easily create one on the spot. Microsoft will use this account to track what apps you have purchased from the Windows store and can secure your billing information, as well.

This account is also used for integration with OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive), so you can easily save and work on files in the cloud.

You have the option of choosing to create only a local account, but if you opt to do so, you will miss out on all of the online integration Windows 8 has to offer. You have three primary choices: use a local account, use a PIN or use a picture password.

Using a Local Account

If you don’t care about the online features used by the Microsoft account, you can simply set up a local user account, which is much like other versions of Windows use.

  1. On the Windows 8 Start screen, swipe from the right side of the screen to the left.
  2. Click Settings and then Change PC Settings.
  3. Click Accounts and then Other Accounts
  4. Click Add an Account.
  5. Set a username, password and hint and click Next.
  6. The next time you log in you’ll be able to choose this user.

Using a PIN

If you want to keep your computer connected to your Microsoft account, you can add a PIN-based login that will allow you to log into your computer locally using a PIN, but your Microsoft account will remain secure with your complex password that you originally set.

  1. On the Windows 8 Start screen, swipe from the right side of the screen to the left.
  2. Click Settings and then Change PC Settings.
  3. Click Accounts and then Sign-in Options (Figure 1).
  4. Click Add next to the PIN option.
  5. Confirm your Microsoft account password.
  6. Enter a 4 digit PIN and confirm.
  7. The next time you unlock your PC you will have the option to use a PIN.

Logging in with a Picture Password

Another neat option is to log in using a picture password. You choose a picture that you want to use as a login screen. Next, you trace shapes or lines somewhere on the picture and only when you get it right will the computer sign you in. It’s similar to phones that use gesture based logins, but in this case you get to choose the picture you see.

  1. On the main Windows 8 menu, swipe from the right side of the screen to the left.
  2. Click Settings and then Change PC Settings.
  3. Click Accounts and then Sign-in Options.
  4. Click the Add button next to Picture Password.
  5. Confirm your Microsoft account password and click the Choose Picture button.
  6. Browse for a picture and once you find one you like, click Open.
  7. Click the Use this Picture button.
  8. Make three gestures – these can be lines, circles or taps. Once done, repeat the pattern (Figure 2).
  9. Click Finish. The next time you go to unlock your computer you’ll need to repeat the gestures.

Once you have set up an alternative sign-in method, you will need to click the Sign-in Options link right below where it asks for your Microsoft password when you want to unlock your computer. Select the icon representing the option you want to use (PIN, Picture) or click on a local user account if you set one up.