How to Change or Reset a Windows Vista Password

by Reads (27,729)

If you forgot your Windows Vista password, we’ll show you how to reset it in this comprehensive guide.

The advice contained within this article applies only to local user accounts. If your account is connected to a domain (typically the case with business computers), you’ll need to have your network administrator reset your Windows Vista password as those are managed within Active Directory.

This article applies to all versions of Windows Vista including Home Basic, Home Premium, Business and Ultimate including the 32- and 64-bit editions.

NotebookReview.com does not take any responsibility for damage caused by following the advice in this article.

Changing a Windows Vista Password

This section of the article will show you how to change your Windows Vista password if you already know it. (Skip to the last section in this article, Performing an Advanced Windows Vista Password Reset if you don’t know the account’s password.)

  1. Log in to the account for which you wish to change the password.
  2. Press [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del] keys simultaneously.
  3. Click the second to last option, Change a password…
  4. Enter your current password in the Old Password box and your desired password in the New Password and Confirm Password Note the text you enter in the latter two boxes must be identical.
  5. Press the [Enter] key to complete the password change.

After changing your password, we recommend you follow our step-by-step guide to making a Windows Vista password reset disk. When you’re done, remember to keep the password reset disk in a safe place preferably away from the computer it was created with, as anyone can use it to reset your account password and therefore gain access to your computer.

Performing an Advanced Windows Vista Password Reset

Follow this section of the guide if you don’t know the password to your Windows Vista user account but wish to reset the password.

Note that you’ll need to have your Windows Vista installation media in hand in order to follow this section of the guide.

  • Insert your Windows Vista DVD into your computer’s optical drive and restart your computer.
  • When your computer restarts, it will prompt you to press any key to boot from disk; press a key to do so. If your computer doesn’t prompt you, you’ll need to change your computer’s boot device order. Your computer’s owner’s manual will explain how to set your DVD drive as the boot device.
  • The first setup screen that loads after booting from your Windows Vista installation DVD will ask you to select your language; select yours and click on the Repair your computer link in the lower left side.
  • Next, select the drive where your operating system is located on the following screen (typically C:\) and click the Next button to continue.
  • Click the Command Prompt option on the next screen.
  • Type the following command into the command prompt. (replace C:\ in these prompts if that is not the drive where Windows is installed):

Windows Vista command line

copy c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe c:\

  • Press the [Enter] key to execute the command.
  • Enter this command next:

Windows Vista command line

copy /y c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe

  • Execute the command by pressing the [Enter]
  • Restart your computer by pressing the power button to turn it off and then again to turn it on. Be sure to disconnect your Windows Vista installation media so your computer doesn’t again try to boot from it.
  • When the Windows login screen appears, quickly press the [Shift] key five times. This would ordinarily have activated the “Sticky Keys” functionality in Windows but the above set of commands we entered instead bound it instead to launching a command prompt.
  • Enter the following commands:

Windows Vista password change command

net user accountname newpassword

  • Replace myaccountname and desiredpassword with your username and desired password, respectively. You have finished resetting your user account password.
  • You’ll want to re-enable Sticky Keys functionality so that someone else can’t use this trick to reset your password. Follow the steps just illustrated in this section of the guide until you get to the point where you launch the Command Prompt after clicking Repair your computer…
  • Enter the following command:

Windows Vista password change command

copy /y c:\sethc.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe

  • Press the [Enter] key to execute the command. Restart your computer.

Your Windows Vista password reset is complete.

Conclusion

We detailed the three major ways to change a Windows Vista password. The first method was simply changing the password for which you had to know the current password. The second method involved creating and using a password reset disk for which you also had to know the account password. The final method was an advanced password reset where we used the Windows command prompt to force a password reset. Hopefully you’ll not have to use this latter method but it’s available should the need arise.

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