Scott Hanselman

How to sign into Windows 8 or 8.1 without a Microsoft account - make a local user

November 03, 2013 Comment on this post [60] Posted in Win8
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I was setting up Windows 8.1 on a machine and didn't want to use a Microsoft ID (Live ID) to sign into it. I didn't feel like linking this temporary machine to my existing Microsoft ID and just wanted a regular local login. Now, I realize that not using a Live ID would limit the things I could do and cause a lot more account popups when I visited apps like Music, Store, Video, and others, but still, I want the choice.

It wasn't immediately obvious to me how to create a local login, so I wrote it up here to help you, Oh Internet Person.

Step 1

When you get to settings, it doesn't matter if you click Use Express Settings or Customize. Pick what makes you happy.


Step 2

Setup will ask you to Sign into your Microsoft account. You can, but you don't have to. You can also click "Create a new account" at the bottom. You can click there to create a new online Microsoft account, sure, but this is also how you create a local account.


Step 3

At this point, it looks like you'll need to Create a Microsoft account, but you can also click "Sign in without a Microsoft account."

You should really know what you're doing here. Don't just do this because you don't like the idea of a Microsoft account. Be aware of the ramifications. That said, you can always add an account later. I found using a local local to be better for me when making a Virtual Machine.


Step 4

Here's where you actually make your local account. Put in a user name and password like you always do. This is a local account that has no ties to the online world.


Hope this helps someone.

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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November 03, 2013 9:41
Oh cool,

I had no idea you can click "Create a new account" to show the "Sign in without a Microsoft account" link.

I had always entered an invalid MS account a few times. That would cause it to relent and offer me that link.
November 03, 2013 11:35
That's..... something.

When I read that page:

"Sign in to your microsoft account

Don't have an account?
Create a new one"

I of course think that it is referring to creating a new MICROSOFT account.
November 03, 2013 11:58
There is more than one way to do (or rather, force) this:
1) Follow this blog post.
2) Enter an invalid e-mail address, such as something@blahblah.local.
3) Disable any Internet connection available.

Any of those will eventually make the installer offer you a local account.

Be aware that not logging in with or linking your MS account will completely block use of Skydrive on Windows 8.1 as the desktop app does not work, though if you DO link it, the only Skydrive account you will be able to access is your MS ID's.

At the moment, most Store apps ask for login credentials if you are using a local account so Skydrive is the only real loss (in that case, just move your stuff to Dropbox/Google Drive/whatever).

November 03, 2013 12:03
Yeah, that 'feature' is really annoying. Thanks for writing this up, Scott. I hope the Windows people decide to make it easier to set up with local-only accounts.
November 03, 2013 13:32
Hello Scott!
Thanks for the article. Funny thing I noticed when upgrading my Windows 8: I didn't manage to find the option to not use a MS Account until after I entered invalid credentials.

> You should really know what you're doing here.
> Don't just do this because you don't like the idea of a Microsoft account.
> Be aware of the ramifications.

I'm sorry, Scott, but that is *exactly* the reason why I'm using a local account for my Windows. I have used a local account since Windows provided a user account option and I will continue to use a local Windows account until MS forces me to create a local account on a Linux-based system. (please, read the subtext).

While I do have a Live-ID, I actually have several, so I can keep my personal and business identity separate. When you read the 'net, you will find numerous accounts on how people just lost their MS identity due to MS deciding that the account was not in accordance with their usage policy, some of which are really far out there. And while it's certainly MS's domain to decide the terms under which they offer their services, it's the customer's domain whether they wish to consume those services and how they protect themselves from the service provider.

What happens when you lose your MS Account? What happens when it gets hacked? What happens when you suddenly use access to your per-default-encrypted harddrive because the only recovery key for it is stored with your MS identity in the cloud? Why should I link my phone number to a US-hosted cloud company together with tons of other personal information?

There's also a very long thread on the SkyDrive integration in Windows 8.1 (, started by Adam Czeisler, SkyDrive's Development Manager. A lot of the discussion revolves around the fact, that you are NO LONGER ABLE use SkyDrive with a local Windows account.

This new MS Account for Windows thing is a Bad(TM) thing, in my humble opinion. I'm sure a lot of non-tech-savy people won't think twice about this stuff, mainly because they don't even know these issues might pop up. And when they do happen for them, they won't know what to do. Except maybe through out their PC and buy a Mac or a Chromebook.

I'm afraid MS will continue on this path until they have managed to achieve their current goal of matching Apple's Desktop market share. (I just googled it: 3-4%).

Best regards, Michael (a no longer all that happy MS customer)
November 03, 2013 14:15
I don't think it is a bad idea to have one account for everything. But, what definitely is missing is the possibility to link local account to existing Microsoft account.
November 03, 2013 16:24
Is it possible to transform a Microsoft account into a plain local account afterwards? THAT would be useful.
November 03, 2013 17:22
Well, I thought 8.1 would finally get me off Windows 7. So much for that.
November 03, 2013 17:55
On a related note, I've recently switched to a Password Manager app that has been fantastic for the 50+ website passwords I needed to remember but has been a bit of a pain with Win 8.1. I've had to switch the picture password and it took me a bit to get all my passwords back in. I constantly have to use my cell to put passwords into my laptop.

Sorry not that related, I guess but I can be pretty selfish and self-serving :)
November 03, 2013 18:04
Looks like dark pattern…
November 03, 2013 18:17
Is there a reason this option isn't made more obvious? My guess is that Microsoft simply doesn't want you using a local account. They'd rather you always be signed in to their services to be tracked across the entire computing experience whether using the Internet or not. Just like I did with my Google accounts when they became obnoxious in this same regard, I too will cancel all Microsoft accounts if this trend continues.

I want to use my computer without submitting myself to advertising at every turn.
November 03, 2013 18:30
@Robert Kirkpatrick: You can disconnect your account from the Microsoft account and make it local, yes. In Windows 8, it's done in PC settings under "Users" - "Switch to a local account". In Windows 8.1, it's "Accounts" -> "Your account" -> Disconnect. After that, you need to enter your password, add the local account details (username as opposed to email adress etc.), and that's it.

And I'll have to agree with Michael. I use different, complex, passwords for every internet based account - passwords that aren't made to be remembered by me. Don't really want that for my Windows account. Of course, that's the less problematic issue here. The real issue is that I may be old-fashioned, but I have no intention of trusting the access credentials for my local computer to a cloud based service.
November 03, 2013 19:13
Any way to use SkyDrive with this method?
November 03, 2013 20:13
I installed 8.1 on a test machine. Yuck. The machine now has Win 7 on it.

And me a person who ran every beta from NT on ...

Windows 7 forever.
November 03, 2013 22:07
This is definitely great for local machines. Although, I will play devil's advocate here and say that using Windows 8 casually, and not for intensive work hooking my account up to an email account is pretty great. I see it extremely helpful for PC users at the level on which a blog like this would be like reading Greek and I've even found it helpful when needing to switch between tablet and desktop machines. That said, this post is great for those who haven't figured this out yet (look at me, I figured this out on day one I'm so smart!) and will definitely help enterprise adoption of Windows 8
November 03, 2013 22:49
there is an much easier way. Disconnect your internet connection (pull off ethernet cable) and you get to local user account setup without any further clicks
November 03, 2013 22:49
Some time ago billg wrote a security memo to all employees. After that multiple initiatives popped up: secure coding practices, SDL and many more. And then, it seems so that one day all these ideas went to trash bin.
I'm not talking about advertisement. I'm talking about almost a requirement to access my personal asset using the credentials that are maintained on the 3rd party servers. Really?
Microsoft can bullsh*t about the recovery procedures and things like that, but just try to use them from some 3rd world country like EU :) Once I was sitting there without access to my Microsoft account for almost 3 days because of a "suspicious activity".
To the point: I'm using local account. As someone pointed out - switching to the local account disables some services like SkyDrive, which in my case means only one thing ... dropbox is back. It is sad, very sad and very wrong.
November 04, 2013 5:11
This Microsoft account has caused me some bit of pain as well. What I don't like is that the user profile folder they give you is something less that ideal. It was like my first and last initial with some number at the end separated by an underscore. I actually hated this so the only way to get around it is to create a local account with the name you want, then once it's all setup you can promote the local account to a microsoft account and it would use your existing user profile.
November 04, 2013 5:31
I'll be running Windows 8.1 in MacBook Pro Boot Camp as soon as Apple ships the MAChine. My question is: can Windows 8.1 authenticate against Active Directory? That's what we use at work.
November 04, 2013 6:29
@Taki: you describe my biggest issue with Win8 (on Surface - I gave up entirely on desktop and upgraded to Win7). Even though I have the Lastpass app installed, it is limited in usefulness by the o/s APIs. When I need a password, I need to press start, open Lastpass, search for the password, copy it, switch back to the app, and paste it. Excruciating given the seamless experience one has in proper Windows.
November 04, 2013 15:31
I had a local user in Windows 8.0
When converting to Windows 8.1 the local users lost accesso to the basic windows 8 apps (mail, calendar, etc.); i'm unable to install/uninstall/update them, they're just black holes in the main menù.

I didn't need them so it's fine, but if i was using them i would be pretty much screwed.
November 04, 2013 18:31
It is a sign of the times. Of course MS is going to herd you towards an MS ID. Tablets today are built to be gateways to a company's cloud storage, music and shopping portal. You'll need n MS ID to make that happen to make that vertical market happen. MS is just following what Apple and Amazon have been doing for years.
November 04, 2013 19:01
Too bad the Skydrive integration requires logging on with a Microsoft Account. This is a complete non-starter for me. So, unless this is corrected, I'm going t have to stop being a paying SkyDrive user.

Scott, please do what you can to get this message to the Skydrive folks before they kill their own product.
November 05, 2013 1:30
If you are able to do so, disconnect your wired network and/or turn off you WiFi just before you click the "Use express settings" button and you will go straight to the last screen you show to enter a non-Microsoft Account based username/login.
November 06, 2013 0:41
@ Robert Kirkpatrick
Is it possible to transform a Microsoft account into a plain local account afterwards? THAT would be useful.

Yes there is a way.. Right hand corner to Settings> Change PC Settings> Accounts> Now look for the "Disconnect"
Pic 1

After you Click
Pic 2

Confirm by typing your MS password and your local account setup will begin: ie username, password, hint etc. This process created/restored my local account and kept my files, desktop, and only changed the nuisance of using the MS login. Caveat, I had a local Windows 8.0 account and when I did the online 8.1 update, it made me setup a MS account to login for the first time.. I had a year old Outlook account and it took. This day I found a way to get rid of the MS account login and go back to my old local account. Hope this is your answer.
November 07, 2013 15:28
Too bad Org Id's don't work. Microsoft needs to figure out how to reconcile the Microsoft Id/Org Id gap, they're punishing people that buy their own services. I thought that if any application/service would also support Ord Id's it would be Windows, given the footprint with business users, but apparently not.
November 08, 2013 5:30
Actually when you install Visual Studio 2013 and "Launch" a window ask to login but there is also an option below the one with the underline that says "not now" or something like that. You can click it and Visual Studio starts without logging you in.
November 08, 2013 18:06
This is how I created an account for my daughter.
November 10, 2013 14:42
But you need a Microsoft account to download apps from Windows Store. Is there any alternate for that?
November 10, 2013 19:33
how to bring step-1 "express settting"
November 11, 2013 16:07
you need a Microsoft account to download apps from Windows Store. because ultimately windows has to reinstalled and when it does you will be able see history for previously owned apps which is great, i do this all the time.
November 12, 2013 2:53
Yes, possible to use Local account but : Skydrive will not work, Microsoft apps will reset randomly and you need to enter log/pass over and over again ,that way Microsoft giving you a idea about switching to Microsoft account.Windows 8 don't have such issues.
November 13, 2013 22:09
thank you!
November 16, 2013 0:52
I was hoping to find a way to return to a local user account that existed before the Windows 8.1 upgrade. The programs are still on the desktop (public) but the user files are gone. After the update there were no Local User accounts.
November 17, 2013 20:10
@Fabrizio. This is what happened to me, but I did rely on all the apps. I foolishly tried to hack the registry to switch profiles (w/o setting a restore point) and hosed myself. Now in the process of rebuilding PC. What's really frustrating is that I'm an Office365 subscriber and there is no way for me to use that "Microsoft" account. Have to have an AD domain controller and federated services. I'm a soloprenuer, how am I going to do that. I would gladly switch to Google, except all my work revolves around Excel. Google will you please build an Excel killer app!!!!!
November 19, 2013 13:27
I decided NOT to use the win 8 email, calendar, etc, apps because they REQUIRE an MS account. Luckily I have Outlook anyway, but anybody else wanting an email client without strings MUST use a non-MS app.
November 24, 2013 5:42
Hi Scott,

Thanks for this tip. But can you also share how-to tips on downloading apps from Windows Store, without logging in to Microsoft account.

You see, not all people in the world have their laptops or desktops all for themselves only. Usually, these devices are shared for use among family members.

Or, at work, some laptops and desktops are not supposed to be password protected, more so, with login options that are linked with one's personal Microsoft account, because these are institutional properties and not private properties. So, it's a no-no to save personal files on these devices.

I use Microsoft account in my personal devices like Surface RT, though itself is irritatingly bugged by many issues, and also in my personal laptop as well. No problem with that. But logging in using personal Microsoft account on devices shared with my family is not a good idea.


(PS: If you can also discuss tips on how to resolve issues involving Surface RT? Bluetooth, wireless connectivity, etc. Thanks.)

November 24, 2013 11:47
I had a local user account in MS8 and when I updated to 8.1 it transformed itself to the Microsoft account I had to setup (I hadn't had one before). Then I setup another local user account but it doesn't have access to most of my files and some of the software I downloaded. (weird, not everything disappeared). Plus I have to reset everything like background picture etc. (Not very important I know but I can't stand the weird floral designs 8.1 offers and I don't see the plain Asus one that I had before. I'm not interested in having personalized pictures there)

The setup and turning off the computer have also slowed down a bit.

Is there any way to convert my MS account into a local one, merge them somehow, so I don't lose the files? Or do I have to copy everything?

I absolutely don't need it at the moment. I haven't downloaded any apps or music from the store, nor do I intend to, don't have Skype, Outlook, etc, don't use SkyDrive...
November 24, 2013 18:57
Hi, thanks for the post.
However, i can't seem to follow it.

As ketan has asked, i do not know what you mean by 'express or custom settings'. I can't find such a choice here. So, please, tell us what is your step 0.

Anyway, what i do : Windows store, try to install an app, it asks for my local password, then ask to set up a Microsoft account. The page is exactly like yours, but the 'Sign in without Microsoft account' is not there.

Any clue ? switching the wifi off didn't help..

Thank you.
December 01, 2013 20:54
the info helped a lot. now I can get windows 8.1 without a Microsoft account. Thanks!
December 05, 2013 6:01
Thanks for the hint
December 06, 2013 3:50
I'm planning on doing a clean install of Windows (figured 8.1 since it's the latest) onto my son's old laptop (will also have a new hybrid ssd drive as he fried his last hdd).
I'm a mac person and have no idea about creating MS accounts, etc. but did so using my gmail account (I think!) when he needed MS office 365 recently (currently in the free trial).
My son (13) won't use outlook (he has gmail which he also really doesn't use).
What do you recommend I do?
I kinda don't know the diff of what one can and cannot do/achieve with or without a MS account. Yeah. I have my apple ID that I use mostly for email and itunes, but that's it.
I just want to set him/it up properly. (was kinda put off that I had to even create a MS ID/account).
December 07, 2013 6:46
New computer with Windows 8. I have managed to avoid setting up the Microsoft account as described above, but now how do I stream Netflix with a local account? Similar ro Aldassam's comment above, I can't seem to download the Netflix app without a Microsoft account. and I don't want a Microsoft account.
December 07, 2013 18:22
Unfortunately, Microsoft's official response is that it is not possible to install even free apps without creating and using a Microsoft login.

If the app is free, and not related to Microsoft, why on earth do they need to track it? I think it's ridiculous, and will not be using them.

Also, be very careful about your privacy settings when installing Microsoft... the default ones give the computer permission to send everything from your browsing and search history to your actual files over to them. I set mine to not do it, but I don't even trust that they won't. Some of the Linux OS's support touch screens now, and I'm already starting to look into it. I've only had the tablet a few days now, what a shame.
December 16, 2013 14:48
I couldn't see that "Sign in Without Microsoft Account" option, so not obvious?! So I created a MS account just for that, which i didn't even needed. Is there a way to manually set it to login WITHOUT signing into MS account? May somewhere in the control panel? This is urgent. Any help would be very much appreciated! thank you.
December 17, 2013 3:41
Skydrive? Well, considering it doesn't have a Linux client, and there is NO way to force it to show file extensions, SD is little more than a toy for me to experiment with, and to act as a utility to verify that LibreOffice has correctly exported a file to MSWord format. For my brother's MSWin systems, he's using LibreOffice, VLC for media playing, Seamonkey as a browser & email client, and everything else (Quicken98, Family Tree Maker7, etc) is definitely not MS products. And his tablet is Android-based, so no need to connect to a Surface either. I needed this page to tell me how to bypass using a MS online account he neither wants nor needs.
December 17, 2013 20:58
Really bad move on MS regarding the Skydrive integration !!! WHY??? Well for now I'll keep using it for a while through the browser until I'll get really annoyed and will go to dropbox/google drive. I pushed everyone to go to 8.1 as it is really nice, but this is a blow !!!
December 17, 2013 22:02
Thanks for an informative article.

This is a useful post related to this issue that might help:

Allows you to use the 8.1 Mail App without a Microsoft account and works with other apps too apparently!
December 17, 2013 22:19
Thank you so much for this article.

I should not have to constantly "upgrade" to the latest version of Windows.

It costs a fortune.

I setup Win 8.1 on a machine with a random account,(the M$ server is going to fill up quick) :)

At least it can revert back to local account now.

I will never use any cloud storage.

I will look into Linux alternatives.

I will keep using XP until it's last day.

Bye bye Microsoft,it's been a pain in the neck, the pocket and now my privates/privacy.

Merry Christmas Scott. :)
December 25, 2013 11:05
Here is an Idea!

When creating users for your personal computing device. Create two users at first. One is the administrator which is MS linked and the other is the local account "Public user" that is not MS linked. Log in under the public profile you created to do your normal stuff. Anytime you need to install a program from the store, you can do that under the Admin account (Right click and click run as admin) and make that program available to the guest user. Therefore you are in a way pleasing Microsoft in having a linked account that is only used to do admin stuff. Then you got your local public account that can only do limited privileges. Again don't forget the old right click and run as administrator, type in the credentials and presto. You have your apps running on a local account. I am doing my best to get use to it as well with a lot of things that I would need to get use to.

Most of you are too young to remember the days of Windows 1.0 to 3.2 and such that only had Program Manger and Shell to use. Then when Windows 95 came out. So many users were scared that their old windows applications would not work. Then we got Windows 98, then XP. Then along came Vista. Each one having service packs created that update the OS. Either it being security flaws being fix to features being added and or taken away. I remember disliking Vista in the very beginning. But after a months I came to like it. Not to long ago Windows 8 came and now we have Windows 8.1. This trend will always continue. A Corporation making improvements by doing their best to resolve customers issues and at the same time driving them forward to the next new level of experience they best see fit.

Yes, 8.1 Start menu gives you the Metro with your desktop background still being the same. Ask yourself this; For those who still using XP and Vista. How many of you actually use all the programs under that Start Menu? And I do mean all the programs.

If you really wanted a way to have a Start Menu on Windows 8, but lacking a lot of detail a lot of sacrifice, then do this. After you log into your Windows 8 machine "I haven't updated to 8.1 yet so I don't know if it will work under it; but it should?" Go to desktop mode if not already there.

Create a folder on the desktop called "Start Menu" without the quotes of course. Right click on the TaskBar and click on Toolbars and click the check box by Desktop. After that, click on Apply then click then click on OK.

You should see the word "Desktop" on your TaskBar". Under default settings there should not be any icons after it except for what shows up by the clock for your startup items. If you left click and drag the triple dot line to the left of the word desktop to the left. You will get to see mini icons of what is on your desktop plus a few more. Keep dragging this line to as far left you can go. And you should have switched positions with what was left of it.

Now go back to the right and left click and drag that triple dotted line to the left until only the word Desktop is shown with ">>" beside it.

Now with a simple movement of a mouse pointer from left to right on the task bar. Very far left is your Start "Metro" ||| Desktop >> ||| "Pined Taskbar items and active programs" then Startup items if any and the Clock.

Remember that folder I had you create on the desktop "Start Menu". This is the folder where you can create all your short cuts and subfolders to get close too but yet no cigar feeling of having that old Start Menu back. You could rename it to programs, but that is your choice. Other than that, that is as close you will get. But it will take your part to put your Start Menu together. Please note, programs that you install after word will not put a shortcut here. You will have to do that yourself. So go hunting and start creating your shortcuts and build your own start menu.

I know the feeling in your stomach must be aching with dreadful sorrow of having to do a lot of searching and creating your own shortcuts to the folder first. Then create your sub folders and move the short cuts accordingly. Like Games, Tools, Productivity and such.

December 28, 2013 3:11
Thank you. One more example of the horrible design of the new Windows. Appreciate the work around.
January 02, 2014 4:16
Wish I had of saw this before I made my Microsoft account. Now I have to sign in using this stupid account and would like to sign in using the previous one. Hate that I updated to Windows 8.1. Now this is the only way to log on to my machine, can't use user accounts. Is there some way to change this? Ugh, next time I will not be purchasing a Windows computer.
January 09, 2014 20:15
Followed your tutorial - there is nothing that says sign in without Microsoft account. Maybe they caught on to this! :(
January 11, 2014 2:29
January 12, 2014 20:49
This is just one more example of Microsoft looking to inflate the number of people with Microsoft IDs. (Much as Google tries to inflate the number of people using Google+.) Saw the same thing with Skype: to have a Skype account talk to a Lync account, the Skype user needs to change over to a Microsoft ID. Absolutely no need for this - MS could create an internal GUID and connect it to the user's original Skype ID, transparently to the user.
January 25, 2014 18:52
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January 27, 2014 3:51
In Win XP I hacked the USER directories and made all my apps appear under a new UserID...
Apparently that isn't advised under 8.1...

I have a new 8.1 installation and want a LOCAL USER ID to have access to all the apps already installed under the MS User ID...
It will be my primary User Id moving forward...

Is there an easy way to do that...?

January 30, 2014 10:35
How do I change it back? I updated to windows 8.1 (didn't have restore points activated so can't do that) and forgot that when I originally started using my new lappy, I DELIBERATELY didn't sign in with my microsoft account, and this time I did it so now, am I STUCK having to sign in with my microsoft account or can I somehow STOP IT!!! I tried creating a local account, but then everything is on the microsoft activated account. is the only way to do it to back everything up, create a local account delete the microsoft account THEN r-eadd everything? PLEASE HELP!!!!
January 31, 2014 16:42
microsoft account
February 01, 2014 16:50
Hi SCOTT, rare reviewer here who just excitedly came across your comment/page... all the way from EAST AFRICA Yes! that place-the pearl of Africa - Uganda!

I just acquired a new DELL Laptop pre-installed with Win 8 and Woe how I've been whinning and wriggling with pain of the fact that I have to use SKYPE by forcefully signing into some Microsoft account but couldn't all the same; and here you are with a soloution... I can't wait to return home soonest so I log onto the Laptop and quickly go thru what you show here... am crossing my two index numbers soooo tight that it works.

I've had to change passwords, create accounts in vain!!
Thx SCOTT - big up for this..

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.