How to Reset Windows 7, 8.1 & 10 Admin Password

Forgot Windows (7, 8.1 & 10) Administrator password and have no password reset disk, here is the step by step procedure to reset the Windows admin password. With this method you can easily reset Windows admin password from command prompt on your own without any expensive third party tool.

Windows has an inbuilt utility Utilman.exe for disabled people. This utility was developed for the people who are hard of sight or hearing. This utility allows users to configure the accessibility options such as Magnifier, High contrast theme, Narrator and On Screen Keyboard. In order to help the disabled people in login process, this utility is available at the login screen and does not require any authentication.

We can run this utility either by pressing Window + U keys combination or by clicking Ease of Access icon on login screen. This application runs under the system account which has the highest level of privilege.

easy of access icon

This utility can be used as a back door to run other utility with system privilege without login. The cmd.exe utility provides command prompt. If anyhow we can disguise cmd.exe in Utilman.exe, we will get command prompt without login. Once command prompt is accessed, resetting a user password is a matter of few commands. Let’s learn it practically.

Disguising cmd.exe in Utilman.exe

There are several ways to disguise the cmd.exe utility in the utilman.exe. From them we will use the easiest and the safest method in this tutorial.

Boot the system with Windows installation disk (the disk which you used to install the Windows)and access the command prompt from the first screen of installation wizard by pressing Shift + F10 keys combination.

Windows 10

windows 10 command prompt

Windows 8

windows 8 command prompt

Windows 7

windows 7 command prompt

Locating Windows partition

In order to work with Windows files, we have to find the partition in which Windows is installed. If you know the Windows partition, skip this step.

If you do not know the partition in which Windows is installed, run following command.

X:\Sources> wmic logicaldisk get caption

This command scans attached hard disk and prints the drive letters of all partitions. Once we know the available partitions, we can find the Windows partition by listing the contents of each partition. To list the contents of each partition, we can use dir command.

locate windows partition

Once Windows partition is figured out, run following commands.

WDL:\>move WDL:\Windows\System32\Utilman.exe WDL:\Windows\System32\Utilman.exe.bak
WDL:\>copy WDL:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe WDL:\Windows\System32\Utilman.exe
WDL:\>wpeutil reboot

WDL = Windows partition Drive Letter. Drive letter of the partition in which Windows is installed.

First command renames the original file Utilman.exe to Utilman.exe.bak. By this command, we actually took the backup of original file at the same location. Later we will use this backup copy to restore the original file back.

Second command makes the copy of cmd.exe with new name Utilman.exe.

Third command reboots the system.

copy and move utilman.exe

While system reboots, either remove installation disk or select the hard disk as first boot device from boot menu to avoid running installation wizard again.

Accessing command prompt at login screen

Since Utilman.exe has been replaced with cmd.exe, clicking Ease of Access icon at login screen will bring the command prompt instead of Ease of Access utility.

Windows 10

windows 10 command prompt

Windows 8

windows 8 command prompt at login screen

Windows 7

windows 7 command prompt at login screen

Changing user account’s password

To change a user account’s password, following command is used

net user [username] *
Type a password for the user: [type new password]
Retype the password to confirm: [type new password again]

Replace [username] with the name of user whose account password you want to change. While typing password at command prompt, indicative asterisk [*] characters do not appear. It’s standard security feature which prevents users from guessing the length of password.

To reset the built-in administrator account’s password, use following command

net user administrator *
Type a password for the user: [type new password]
Retype the password to confirm: [type new password again]

changing built-in windows administrator account password

To reset a user (named lxsoftwin) account’s password, use following command

net user lxsoftwin *
Type a password for the user: [type new password]
Retype the password to confirm: [type new password again]

resetting user password

Activating built-in administrator account

Starting from Windows 8.1, built-in administrator account is disabled. If require, you can enable it with following command

net user administrator /active:yes
activating administrator password

Creating a local administrator account without password

If you only want to access the system for maintenance or troubleshooting purpose, you can create a new temporary user account and add it in administrator group. Once your task is finished, you can delete this temporary account.

To add a new administrator account, use following commands: -

net user [user name] /add
net localgroup administrators [user name] /add

adding new administrator account

First command adds a new user account.

Second command makes this user account a member of administrators group.

If require, you can also assign a password to this account. To assign a password, use same command which we used to reset the user account’s password.

Added user will be listed in user list immediately.

listing added user

Once you are finished with command prompt, close the window and shut down the system.

restart the system

Restoring the original file back

Boot system with installation disk again and press Shift + F10 keys combination at the first screen of installation wizard. This will bring up the command prompt window again.

Run following commands to the restore the original file back.

WDL:\> del WDL:\Windows\System32\utilman.exe
WDL:\> move WDL:\Windows\system32\utilman.exe.bak WDL:\Windows\System32\utilman.exe
WDL:\>wpeutil reboot

WDL = Windows Drive Letter. Drive letter of partition in which Windows is installed.

First command deletes the modified file.

Second command restores the original file back.

Third command reboots the system.

restoring original file back

Remove installation media while system reboots.

We are done

After reboot, use your new password or account to login in the system.

tempadmin login

This way without harming any system file or using any third party software or tool, we can easily reset Windows admin password, create a new local administrator account and change any local user’s account password from command prompt on our own.

User password and encryption

Encryption is a security feature which allows user to secure his files and folders from unauthorized access. For encryption, Windows uses user’s password. If user’s password is changed when user is not logged in, all files and folders encrypted by him become inaccessible.

Following figure shows a suggestion message which Windows displays when we change other user’s password through Computer Management

suggestion message

Following figure shows a warning message which Windows displays before changing other user’s password

warning message password change

At command prompt we do not get any suggestion or warning message about this feature. While changing a user’s password when user is not logged in by following the method explained in this tutorial, make sure user does not have any encrypted files or folders.

Windows default file permission

By default, Windows does not allow to us make any change in system files. Once Windows is loaded, it checks each file access and grants permission based several security measurements. For this reason, even after getting login access with updated password, we restored original file back when Windows was not loaded.

Following figure shows the error message which Windows displays when we attempt to restore original file back from GUI after logging from administrator account.

file permission error

Following figure shows the error message which Windows displays when we attempt to do the same from command prompt.

file permission error

Does it mean we cannot restore the original file back while Windows is loaded?

Technically yes you can, but it involves a lot of security adjustment. The file which we modified, starting from Windows 8, is protected by TrustedInstaller group. Only the members of this group are allowed to make changes in this file.

Following figure shows the allowed permission of both TrustedInstaller group and Administrators group for utilman.exe file.

utilman.exe file permission

You can add your user account or administrator account in TrustedInstaller group but that will create several another permission related issues that need to be fixed separately.

Just only to restore the original utilman.exe file back when Windows is loaded, changing a lot of security settings is a worthless idea especially when it can be easily done by the method explained in this tutorial.

If you don’t have command line experience or just looking for a ready to use third party tool or software to reset the Windows admin password, you can try following product.

TunesBro WinGeeker

This software provides the most elegant and the simplest solution for Windows password recovery at a nominal cost. It can reset any Windows password including Server version. In order to use this software, you have to burn it in USB or DVD. Once software is burned, boot the locked system with USB/DVD and follow the step by step instructions to reset the password.

That’s all for this tutorial. If you face any problem while resting Windows admin password through this method, let me know. I will assist you in it. If you like this tutorial, share it with your favorite social site. By sharing you may help someone else who is looking for a way to reset the Windows admin password.

ComputerNetworkingNotes SysAdmin Tutorials Collection How to Reset Windows 7, 8.1 & 10 Admin Password