Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
You can bypass the Windows login screen easily with a very simple utility. But you should be aware that doing so opens up a security risk.
I have a computer with Windows Vista and I have to login whenever I turn it on. How do I turn that off so I don't have to login when I turn on my computer?
Your timing couldn't be better.
There are several approaches to setting this up, but just a day or two after getting your question, I stumbled onto a utility that makes this drop-dead simple.
It's free and from a trusted source: Microsoft.
Here's what we're trying to avoid ever seeing again:
If you're the only user of the machine, you'll enter the same information every time you reboot the machine. But why go through that? Well, I'll have some reasons to consider below, but for now, let's assume that there's no reason to force you to login each time.
Autologon is a tool from the SysInternals folks out at Microsoft, the same people that bring us useful tools like Process Explorer. It may have been around for a while, but for some reason, I missed it until just the other day.
Download Autologon and extract the program autologon.exe from the .zip file. Then, put that somewhere convenient, and run it.
After accepting the License Agreement, you'll see this:
That's the entire user interface: a dialog box with your login name, the domain (in most cases, this is your machine name), a password field, an Enable button, a Disable button, and an About button. That's it.
To enable auto-login, enter your password and click Enable.
After you reboot, you'll find that you bypassed the login screen. You are now signed in with the credentials you supplied to the Autologon tool.
To turn automatic login off, just rerun the tool and click the Disable button.
That's as simple as can be.
Autologon works in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.
To be clear, I use automatic login on some of my machines - the ones that don't leave my home. And I've added autologon.exe to my toolkit.
But it's important to realize that by allowing your machine to login automatically, you've put in place a possible security hole.
With automatic login, anyone with physical access to your machine can gain full access to your login account simply by rebooting the machine.
If you have enough confidence in your physical security, you may consider that an acceptable risk to take on for the convenience of not having to login.
On the other hand, if your machine is easily accessible to others, the small inconvenience of entering a password could be worth it if it saves you trouble later on.
Update: several people have pointed out that this doesn't affect whether or not a password is required on resume from sleep or hibernation. That's correct; that scenario isn't actually related to logging in at all. You're still logged in when your computer sleeps or hibernates, so you're not really logging in again when it requires a password to regain access. That's a different setting that I've outlined in How do I avoid needing a password after standby or hibernation?
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