If you need to share a Windows 10 PC with an office worker, a temporary worker, or a family member at home, here’s an easy solution.
In some offices, computers are shared by two or more employees, or temporary employees. This sounds like a source of disaster, but Windows 10 has a great tool to let multiple people share one PC without reading, editing, or deleting each other’s files and folders. This tool allows you to use each other’s applications, delete them, or customize the entire system.
These tools can be a great help for someone who works from home and sometimes needs to share a PC with their family. You can set up a different user profile and log in so that each user can only access their files, folders, apps, and basic settings. This article introduces how to set up Windows 10 PC sharing.
Setting up an account for sharing Windows 10 PCs
Windows 10 makes it easy for multiple people to share the same PC. To do this, create a separate account for each user who will use the computer. Each user gets their own storage, applications, desktops, settings, and more.
The PC administrator sets up and manages all accounts, including system settings that only administrators can access. The administrator account is set the first time you install or use Windows on your computer (you can also upgrade other user accounts to administrator status).
If you are an administrator, you can easily set up user accounts. First, you need the email address of the person who will set up your account. Ideally, this should be the login information for your Microsoft account (e.g. @outlook.com or @hotmail.com address, or your company’s email address using Outlook). Use your existing Windows settings, access the OneDrive storage, and download and install the app from the Microsoft Store. Anyone can sign up for a Microsoft account for free.
For now, it is assumed that the user you are adding has a Microsoft account. Later, I’ll explain how to set up an account if you don’t have an account and don’t want to register, but you can’t set restrictions on family members unless you log in with a Microsoft account. Only the domains @outlook.com or @hotmail.com can be used for accounts for kids.
To add a user, click the Start button, choose Settings, then choose Accounts. Select Family and Others from the menu on the left of the account screen. To set up a coworker’s account, go to the’Other Users’ session and click Add another user to this PC. To set up an account for a family member, where you can set age restrictions, game and app restrictions, and more, instead select Add family member in the’Family’ session.
On the screen that appears, enter the email address of the person who will be creating the user account, click OK, then click Finish. Your username now appears on the’Family and Other Users’ account page.
If you are a current PC user, click the Start button and it will appear in the middle left of the Start menu.
The owner of a new account can use it in two ways. Clicking the icon representing the current PC user account in the middle left of the Start menu will display all accounts on the PC. Click the account name you want to use and log in to your account with your Microsoft account password.
Or, when you restart your PC, you will see two accounts, you and the administrator, on the Windows login screen. You can click on your account name and log in with your Microsoft account password. You should now see two accounts (user and administrator accounts) on the Windows login screen. You can click on your account name and log in with your Microsoft account password.
Your account has a separate OneDrive storage. Each user’s local files and folders cannot be accessed by other users. The installed Windows apps are displayed, but other apps are not, and vice versa. Since it’s a Microsoft account, your files and settings will sync with all other devices connected to your account.
Create a new user account without using a Microsoft account
If other users don’t have or don’t want a Microsoft account, it takes a bit of work to create a shared PC.
Go to Settings>Accounts>Family & Other Users>Add Another User to This PC (If you are adding a family member without a Microsoft account, the choices are the same, but parental controls are not available).
On the screen that appears, click’I don’t have this person’s login information’. Then, click Add user without Microsoft account at the bottom of the next screen.
You can now add your username and password. The user’s account name is now displayed in the same way as creating an account using a Microsoft account.
Creating another user’s account in this way is called a local account. Unlike Microsoft accounts, settings between devices don’t sync, and you don’t have access to OneDrive. Also, users of local accounts cannot download or install apps from the Microsoft Store. You can’t even install the desktop application yourself. When you try to install it, you’ll be asked for the password for the administrator account. So, to install the desktop application, an administrator must be nearby.
Setting up an account makes it easy to switch from the account currently running on your computer to another user account. If another user is currently using Windows 10 on the system, click the Start button, click the icon representing the current user account on the left side of the Start menu, click the account you want to switch to, and enter a password.
Of course, you can log in from the lock screen that displays all user accounts on your computer.
There are some things to keep in mind when multiple users use a PC with separate accounts. Even if someone is not using your PC, your account will remain logged in unless you log out or restart your PC. Therefore, even if only one user actively uses the PC, multiple users can log in to the account. This does not mean that the user can access other user accounts. There can be only one active account at a time. Individual users must re-enter their password to view their account.
To see who is currently logged in, click the Start button, then click the icon representing the current user’s account in the middle left of the Start menu to view all computer accounts. If you look under each account, you’ll see the words “logged in” under that account.
What does it mean if someone is logged into their account, even if they are not currently using the account? When someone logs in, Windows 10 stores that user’s user account status (applications the user was running, files they were working on, etc.). That way, when you switch back to that account, everything is in place, so you don’t have to waste time running apps or opening files.
This method is useful, but it can also be problematic because it can lead to loss of work. Restarting or shutting down the PC automatically logs off all users of the PC. Suppose another user has logged into your account, but hasn’t saved your work yet. If the computer switches to another account and the second account user restarts or shuts down the system, the first user loses unsaved work.
So it’s always a good idea to log out of your account before other users use the same computer. Click your account name at the top of the Start menu, then click Sign Out.
Manage your account
It is simple to give other users administrator access rights. Choose Settings>Accounts>Family and Other Users, click the account you want to give administrator privileges to, click Change Account Type, select Administrator from Account Type, and click OK. You can change back to the standard user account at any time later using the same method.
Also, if you are an administrator, you can easily delete your account. Choose Settings>Accounts>Family and Other Users, click the account you want to remove, then click Remove. When you delete your account, you’ll see a warning screen stating that all related data will also be deleted, including files, desktop settings, apps, and music. Also, it can be deleted only when the user logs out of Windows 10.
This way, multiple users can easily and easily share their Windows 10 PC.
Bonus tip, turn on hidden Windows 10 admin account
Here’s one more tip on how to set up a super admin account hidden in Windows 10.
As explained earlier, when installing Windows, the account created is the administrator account of the PC. You can control how Windows 10 works on your PC, what other accounts you can create, and more. However, Windows 10 also sets a hidden administrator account during installation.
This hidden account has one advantage over the regular administrator account. User Account Control (UAC) messages are not displayed when using this account. This makes troubleshooting and customization a lot easier because you don’t have to worry about cumbersome UAC notifications.
Some users refer to this hidden administrator account as an elevated account, and a regular account as a non-elevated account. Hidden administrator accounts are easy to set up and use.
- Make sure you are using a regular administrator account.
- Click the Start button, scroll down the app, then click Windows System.
- In the drop-down menu that appears, right-click Command Prompt, then click Add and select Run as administrator to launch the command prompt. If you look at the prompt’s title bar, it says’Selection Manager: Command Prompt’.
- At the command promptnet user administrator /active:yesType ‘and press the Enter key.
When the prompt says’I ran the command well’, the hidden administrator account is turned on, which appears on the Windows 10 login screen and Start menu screen. Click to use it like any other account.
To disable hidden accounts, follow steps 1 to 3, and at the command prompt net user administrator /active:noEnter and press Enter. firstname.lastname@example.org
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