Automatic Windows Logon

Configure the Windows auto log-on feature with this free Microsoft tool.

Entering a username and password to log on to Windows isn't a big deal for most PC users, but logging on automatically to a user account while still retaining optional password-protected access can save time when physical access isn't a security issue. Most recent versions of Windows have an auto log-on function, typically under Advanced User Accounts. Simply enter the netplwiz command and...OK, there's a much easier way, and it's from Microsoft, too: simply download Autologon, a small, free Sysinternals app that makes it supereasy to configure Windows' built-in auto log-on feature. It lets you enter a username and password for a specified account, which is encrypted and saved in the Registry. Windows will automatically log that user on to the system without presenting the log-on screen.

Autologon requires no installation, so we simply extracted the zipped program file and clicked it. Autologon's interface is extremely simple, a small box with fields for Username, Domain, and Password, and three buttons labeled Enable, Disable, and About. The program automatically detected and filled the fields with our username and domain (our computer's name). We simply had to enter the correct log-on password and press Enable. To test the new capability, we simply rebooted. Instead of the usual log-on procedure, our system booted straight into Windows. To restore the normal log-on function, we pressed Disable. Holding down the Shift key during start-up also disables Autologon for that instance. The About button showed copyright data and a link to the Sysinternals Web site, but that's about it.

Obviously, we recommend using Autologon carefully, especially with regard to physical access to your PC, but also use common sense: don't use it for your Admin account, for instance, especially in a LAN or home network. For many users, though, Autologon can save time and effort.

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