Managing User Accounts in Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 provides a number of improvements over Windows 8 with regards to managing and customizing user accounts. For the most part, the process is the same with both editions of the operating system, though there are a few notable differences.

Having multiple user accounts for different users provides the following benefits for each account:

– Personalised desktop and Start screen.
– Secure login
– Personalised language settings, including interface language and keyboard layouts.
– Some programs may be installed for one user account or for every user account on the computer. However, many older programs do not support this feature.
– Private user account folders, including ones for documents, images, music and videos. Additionally, there are corresponding public folders which are accessible to all user accounts associated with the computer.

The following takes a look at how to add, remove and customize user accounts in Microsoft’s latest version of Windows.

Managing User Accounts in PC Settings

Much to the annoyance of many desktop and laptop users, Windows 8.1 still provides two completely separate control panels. There is one for dealing with anything related to the new interface as well as one for managing the desktop. Needless to say, the latter provides a far greater range of features, and it will be immediately familiar to anyone who has used the control panel in previous versions of Windows.

Windows 8.1 makes the transition between the old interface of previous editions and the new one a little smoother than it was in Windows 8. Most of the more common user account-related settings can be modified by using the new control panel. To access this, go to the Start screen, move the mouse pointer to the right-hand side of the screen and click “Settings.” Click “Change PC settings” at the bottom and click “Accounts” in the left-side pane.

The initial account settings page only provides you with the ability to change your account logo. If you log into Windows using a Microsoft account, this will synchronize between any other computers you use which run Windows 8. You can also customize your Microsoft account and various related Windows 8 account features online by clicking the link at the top of the page.

The second page of the Accounts settings is “Sign-in options.” Here you can choose whether you want to log in to Windows using a four-digit PIN code, a password or a picture password.

The third page, entitled “Other accounts,” enables you to add and manage any other user accounts to your computer. Microsoft encourages you to only use Microsoft accounts. This will allow your settings to be synchronized across multiple computers and have access to Microsoft SkyDrive online storage. However, for many people, particularly business users, this presents privacy concerns, in which case you may want to create a local account. Local accounts work in exactly the same way as user accounts in Windows 7 and earlier.

Managing User Accounts in the Control Panel

By using the original Windows control panel to manage user accounts on or associated with your computer, you will be able to access more advanced features. To get to the control panel, right click on the Windows 8.1 start button and click “Control Panel.” Click “User Accounts and Family Safety” and then click “User Accounts” to continue.

Here you can change the account type to a Standard account or an Administrator account. The primary user account may only be an Administrator account, although it is highly recommended that any additional users on your computer have a Standard account. Standard accounts prevent users from installing new programs or changing important system settings, though users may still customize things like the desktop theme and start screen.

Another feature which you may want to modify using the control panel is User Account Control. Although this helps to protect your computer from unwanted modifications and other issues, more advanced users generally find it to be a nuisance with its constant popups. If you want to be rid of many of these warnings, click “Change User Account Control settings” and drag the bar down to the second-from-lowest option. Alternatively, you can turn User Account Control off entirely by dragging the slider right down to the bottom where it says “Never notify.” However, this will prevent all of the modern apps on the Start screen from working.

1 thought on “Managing User Accounts in Windows 8.1”

  1. Windows Mail
    I want to set the Windows Mail to default to one of my two gmail accounts. I can’t figure out how to change which account my Windows Mail will be sent from.

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