Manage User Accounts

User Accounts are the primary means of protecting your data, even if you’re the only person who uses your PC. The user accounts system allows you to encrypt your files so they can’t be read by someone who doesn’t know your password, and it makes it possible to securely share your files with those on your network who do. And it means you can share your PC with your kids without being greeted by their “Astronaut on a Surfboard” wallpaper each time you log in.

There are actually four different User Accounts dialogs in Windows 7, each with a completely different design and “intended audience,” so to speak. The problem is that each tool has a few options not found in the other, so no single window can be used exclusively to handle all your tasks.

User Accounts

The User Accounts page in Control Panel (Figure 8-1) is the one most users see. It’s large, friendly, and unfortunately, somewhat cumbersome.

Adding, customizing, and removing user accounts is extremely easy, and for the most part, self-explanatory in this window. That’s admirable. But sometimes you’ll need one of the alternate dialogs, listed next, to accomplish more advanced tasks, such as managing groups and configuring Windows to log in a password-protected account automatically.


The standard User Accounts window is the only place you can choose a user’s picture, shown in both the login dialog and at the top of the Start menu (see Prune the Start Menu). It’s also the only place you can choose between the ...

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