One of the biggest complaints about Windows 10 is that it forces you to log in with a Microsoft account, which means you need to connect to the Internet. However, you are not required to use a Microsoft account, even though it appears that way.
During the initial setup, Windows 10 tells you to sign in with an existing Microsoft account or create a new one. It does not mention that you can sign in with a local account, but you can. With a local account, you do not need to connect to the Internet to log in to your computer.
You can configure Windows 10 to use a local account during the initial setup or after it. Before making the change, though, you need to know about the differences between these two types of accounts so that you can choose the best one for your situation.
The Main Differences between Microsoft and Local Accounts
Microsoft accounts differ from local accounts in several ways. With a Microsoft account, you can use the same set of credentials to log in to multiple Windows devices (e.g., desktop computer, tablet, smartphone) and various Microsoft services (e.g., OneDrive, Skype, Office 365) because your account and device settings are stored in the cloud. As a result, you need to connect to the Internet to log in to any of your Windows devices.
In contrast, if you have a local account on a Windows computer, you can log in when your computer is offline or online. This is possible because your local account and device settings are stored on the computer rather than in the cloud. However, you can only use the local account credentials to log in to that computer. The credentials will not work on any other devices.
Using a local account on a computer will not affect your Microsoft account if you have one. Your Microsoft account will still exist, and you can use it to access the Microsoft services that require it.
How to Create a Local Account When Initially Setting Up Windows 10
You can create a local account when you are installing or upgrading to Windows 10. Near the end of the process, you will encounter the “Make it yours” screen, which tells you to sign in with an existing Microsoft account or create a new one. At that point, follow these steps:
- Select the “Skip this step” option in the bottom left corner of the “Make it yours” screen.
- In the “Create an account for this PC” screen that appears, enter your name or another identifier in the “Who’s going to use this PC?” field.
- Enter a secure password and a hint that will help you remember the password in case you forget it.
- Click the “Next” button to continue the installation or upgrade.
Once the installation or upgrade is complete, your local account will be active.
What to Do If You Already Set Up Windows 10 to Use a Microsoft Account
If you already set up a Windows 10 computer to use a Microsoft account to log in, you can switch to a local account. To do so, follow these steps:
- Log in to your Windows 10 computer using your Microsoft account.
- Click the “Start” button and select “Settings”.
- Choose “Accounts” in the Settings window.
- Select the “Your email and accounts” option in the left pane.
- Click the “Sign in with a local account instead” option in the right pane. This will bring up the “Switch to a local account” wizard.
- In the first page of the wizard, enter your Microsoft account password. Even though you signed in with your Microsoft account, you need to provide your password again for verification purposes.
- Click the “Next” button.
- In the second page of the wizard, enter your name or another identifier in the “User name” field.
- Enter a secure password and a password hint.
- Click “Next”.
- In the last page of the wizard, review the information and then click the “Sign out and finish” button.
The next time you log in to your Windows 10 computer, you will need to use your new local account credentials.
Help Is Available If Needed
Although Microsoft does not make it obvious, you can log in with a local account on Windows 10 computers. You just need to change some settings. If you do not feel comfortable configuring Windows 10 to use a local account, your IT service provider can help.