Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

I run a Cyber Cafe and my customers log into their MSN/Yahoo Messenger account - sometimes they check in the "save username and password" or other variations of "remember me". I need to disable that feature - how?

One the most common classes of questions I get has to do with people who've lost access to their own accounts because someone else changed their password. Setting "remember me" on a public computer is a quick way to set yourself up for having your password changed and your account stolen.

I laud your efforts to help prevent this.

Sadly, the news isn't all that good.

I could find no official way in either MSN Instant Messenger, or Yahoo Instant Messenger to disable this feature. One would think that with the rampant problems it can cause, there would be a documented way for people in exactly your position to so.

"I could find no official way ... to disable this feature. "

However, I didn't stop there.

Unfortunately, I could not come up with a way to coerce MSN Instant Messenger into disabling the feature. Similarly, with Yahoo Instant Messenger, I thought I had a line on a registry setting that could be tweaked, or perhaps permissions on a registry setting could be altered to prevent it from being changed, but alas ... my experiments failed.

I'm hopeful that perhaps a reader will report back with a hack I've missed, or perhaps even an officially supported mechanism that I overlooked.

But for now, you'll have to rely on your clients to "do the right thing" ... which I know you can't really count on.

Article C2501 - December 24, 2005 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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16 Comments
Sqeaky
December 26, 2005 4:20 AM

For a professional enviroment such as a cyber cafe I can see 2 solutions for your problem. Neither of them are easy, but they are both possible.

1. Use Gaim, and hire a programmer. Gaim is an Open instant messenger, a hired developer could probably get the functionality you want in 2 to 10 hours. I don't know if you can settle for its level of compatibility, it doesn't always handle voice or file transfers correctly, but as a Cybercafe you probably don't even want other people files on your machines.

or

2. Set up your machines to reinstall a fresh image on every reboot, and reboot every logout, and every night. If you have a server, behind the scenes somewhere, it could pass out disk images, to client machines over the network. Booting the machines would take a little longer, in my experience its about 1 to 5 minutes (depending on software), but when I have done it, it was to remove problems such as user settings, virii, user software, and it worked like a charm.


Leo nice site, first time poster long time reader , I work as a technician for http://www.freetechsupport.us if you ever want to stop by my site sometime I'd love to see some one as knowledable as yourself up at our help forums.

Joshua
December 27, 2005 1:02 PM

Leo,

Maybe the solution is simpler than we think.

Firstly, clearing out the username and password cache in Explorer's autocomplete function ensures that another person's details don't creep up unwanted.

Secondly, I use a programme called HistoryKill, which does just as the name implies. It can be configured to run at every browser shutdown, thus eliminating all cookies, and clearing out the info in the index.dat file.

This works fine for us at the office (where no servers or admin's are involved), when we want to check emails, or use Y!Messenger without getting caught ;-)

brandon
December 28, 2005 8:23 AM

here, i know a solution, tell your people to just not click it...and if they do, then that sux for them cause someone else will get into it.

Alexander
January 1, 2006 8:13 PM

There are hardware solutions available, usually deployed in schoolar computer rooms. They are PCI cards, and intercept all write request to the HD, and cache them on another partition. On each boot, the computer will forget the written data and therefore start at the same point. All cookies, history, temporary files etc. will have been gone.

Edgar Monteiro
February 11, 2006 7:19 AM

Well, if I understood well the question, the awnser is simples: just alter the variables "MSNSignInMRU0X" on the file called com.microsoft.Messenger.plist

JM
February 24, 2006 10:21 AM

Howdy... you might want to check out the "Shared Computer Toolkit" from Microsoft. It has profile and drive locking features (tossing out all changes since the admin told it to lock) while still allowing specified system updates (virus scanning data, operating system updates, etc). Much easier to manage than the PCI card drive locking system.

(In fact, that is why it was developed... as an answer to some issues they had with the Gates Foundation granted machines in schools and libraries. Those machines had PCI drive locks and some OS tweaks.)

It's a freebie on their website, and it's a good product. (Speaking as a full-time *nix guy, that's a fairly rare thing for me to say. ;)

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sharedaccess/default.mspx

And if you don't want a MS product to do this job, maybe you should just go all the way and maybe replace with software from these guys:

http://www.userful.com

Another good product, with fully functioning downloadable demos. :) (The multi-headed machine setups they trumpet are very cool, but all of their stuff can be run as traditional stand-alone workstations as well.)

Cheers!

atri
April 26, 2006 6:22 AM

all of my contacts dissapeard!!!!! MSN IS SKREWED!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOW DO I GET MY CONTACTS BACK!!!

Mayowa
June 21, 2006 11:59 AM

yeah, i've gone through you article and all is well and nicce, but i have a problem. and this my problem i know you can solve for me.
here is the question. what are the relativities of computer with internet. this is what i was searching for when bursted into your articles.
thanks. please send me the answer thruogh my email.

me
September 4, 2006 12:32 PM

how do i delete the different email addresses ive used to sign in on, on msn. on the signing in page?

kathleen
December 4, 2006 9:32 AM

The fix for this is to use control panel, user accounts, then selcet your user name. then under related tasks in the left pane select manage my network passwords. From there remove the offending user account. problem solved.

David Salinas CortÚs
August 23, 2007 1:24 AM

I agree with JM (at February 24, 2006 10:21 AM) about the use of Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit (called today SteadyState). I didn't know about it before reading this page, but now i am sure i am going to use it.

Thanks!!!

hj.saini
March 21, 2008 2:58 AM

how did i clear my email address on window massanger.

Jennifer
January 20, 2009 12:10 PM

how do enable messenger to start automatically when logging in?

L J BIASOTTO
September 26, 2009 4:00 PM

YOUR FIX FOR KEEPING MSN BROWSER FROM OPENING DOES NOT WORK

mwizerwa
February 18, 2010 12:20 AM

Please change this easy way of entering people's
accounts. Iam finding my emails read and deleted
Please help end this remember me on this computer
business

Brian
March 31, 2010 5:47 PM

Select "delete browsing history on exit" under internet options. This way the not only is the history cleared, the computer will not "remember" the last person logged on regardless of whether or not the "remember me" box was selected. It works. I have my computer set up this way.

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