How To Use a Password Instead of a PIN in Windows 10

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Password and PIN protection are essential security features that come with Windows 10. Unfortunately, changing from a PIN to a password or just setting up a password isn’t as straightforward as most users would like. So how can you use a password instead of a PIN on Windows 10? 

To use a password instead of a PIN on Windows 10, press the Windows button, and click on settings. On the settings page, click on accounts and choose the sign-in options button. Choose a password and click on the add button. Key in and confirm your preferred password. 

If you’re looking for ways to change or add a password when signing in to Windows 10, then you couldn’t be in a better place. Read on for a detailed guide on using a password instead of a PIN on Windows 10. 

How to set a password instead of pin Windows 10

Press the Windows button at the bottom of the screen

The first step is to click the start button located at the bottom left part of the screen. You can either click that button or press the Windows button on your keyboard. This step will open up the settings menu, where you can edit your security settings.

open settings app windows 10

A list of programs will appear on your left, with the Settings button located towards the bottom of the list. Click on Settings to access the menu containing your PC’s main settings for your System, Devices, Network & Internet, Personalization, and Account. 

Click on the Account Settings & select Sign-In Options

select account settings

Once you’ve clicked on the Account Settings, a drop-down menu will appear. Click on the Sign-in Options button to access (and manage) the various sign-in options on your device. 

select sign in options

You’ll then head over to the Password menu and click on Add. A blue pop-up screen will appear, giving you access to two password reset boxes and a password hint box.

You’ll then need to fill the upper box with the password of your choice. Windows will require you to confirm the password — a task you’ll perform by filling the second box. 

enter new password

In the third box, you’ll need to fill in a password hint. Choose a hint that’s easy to remember, as it’ll make the password recovery process a lot easier in case you forget it.

Once you’ve filled all the boxes, you’ll then hit the Next button. Press the Finish button to complete the process. 

As you can see throughout this section, setting a password for the first time is fairly straightforward. Remember to click on settings then accounts to access the sign-in settings page. From there, you can set up a password. 

Windows 10 can’t remove the PIN

Many Windows 10 users experience difficulties when it comes to removing PINs. On most occasions, when removing PIN protection, the Remove button is usually grey.

In other words, you can only change the PIN but not remove it completely.  If you’re among the affected users, then the following steps will help you remove the PIN as your sign-in method. 

Go to the Settings Page & Click on Account

Click the Windows button at the bottom left part of your screen and select Settings. As in the previous section, you’ll need to navigate to Accounts then click on Sign-in Options

Once on the Sign-in Options panel, scroll down and click on the Windows Hello PIN. You’ll then spot two buttons titled Change and Remove.

The Change button allows you to modify your password, while the Remove button will enable you to cancel the PIN setting altogether. 

However, you might find that the Remove button is unclickable in most cases, meaning you’ll need to remove the PIN settings using other means.  

Click on I Forgot My PIN

Beneath the Windows Hello PIN, you’ll spot the I forgot my PIN button that you should click on, as shown in the image below. 

select i forgot my pin my pin

Once you click, I forgot my PIN, a pop-up box confirming whether you’re sure of the changes will appear. You’ll need to click on Continue at the bottom of the screen to proceed to the next step.  

Sign in to your account with your password

Windows will prompt you to sign in to your Microsoft account to verify you’re the real owner. If you’re using the local account password, then it’ll ask you to sign in to confirm your identity as the owner.

This step should be pretty straightforward, especially since you’ll be keying in a familiar password.  

After the sign-in is complete, a PIN pop-up will appear. The pop-up allows you to set your preferred PIN. However, in our case, we’ll use the pop-up to remove PIN protection on Windows 10. The trick, however, is to press the Cancel button, as shown below. 

re-enter pin

Clicking on Cancel will allow you to remove PIN protection as your preferred sign-in option. When you go back to the sign-in page, you’ll notice an Add button below the Windows Hello PIN option, as indicated below. 

select add new pin button

The presence of the Add button means you’ve successfully removed Windows Hello PIN as your default sign-in option. You can then follow the steps in the first section to set a password on your Windows 10. 

PIN vs. Password: Which one should you use?

Both PIN and password have their pros and cons when it comes to account protection. While a password can integrate characters, symbols, and numbers, it might also prove tedious to enter during start-up, especially if it’s complex. 

Similarly, while a PIN might be easy to enter, an extremely simplistic PIN might fail to provide the desired level of security. Luckily, in Windows 10, users can integrate both numbers and alphabets in a PIN, thus providing convenience and security. 

Below is a brief comparison of PINs and passwords to help determine the most secure and effective of the two options. 

Uniqueness to Different Devices

Perhaps the best feature of the Windows 10 PIN is its exclusivity when it comes to devices. Your Windows 10 PIN can be used only on your PC and won’t be passed on to Microsoft’s servers.

That means that should your PC get into the wrong hands, the infiltrator or thief will be unable to access your Microsoft account, thus keePINg your sensitive emails or cloud-stored items safe. 

The Windows 10 password lags behind the PIN when it comes to security. While you might set up a complex password involving numbers, letters, and symbols, failure to secure the password means someone who gets your log-ins will have full access to your Microsoft account.

That’s because, unlike PINs that are stored locally, Microsoft passwords are cloud-stored and used to access the entire account. 

Hardware backup

rendering of hardware components on a circuit board

Microsoft’s Hello PIN is usually backed and supported by a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip. The TPM is an ultra-secure crypto-processor designed to perform cryptographic functions.

The chip comes with several physical security mechanisms that make it tamperproof. This feature means that malicious software won’t be able to tamper with the TPM’s security functions. 

Once generated, the user key material is made available only within the TPM of the specific device, thus protecting from attackers looking to capture and use the key material.

And since Hello utilizes asymmetric key pairs, you won’t have your credentials stolen if your identity provider or frequently accessed websites are compromised.

The password doesn’t come with a hardware backup and won’t be specific to the device, meaning it’s a lot riskier if you want full-scale protection.

Expert hackers can tamper with the cloud-stored logins and access all your Microsoft account details. 

An extra layer of protection 

Although a PIN helps make your device and Microsoft account more secure, it still requires a password. That means that passwords are important when it comes to the provision of a much-needed layer of security. 

Ideally, Microsoft will only allow you to set a PIN once you’ve signed up with a password. Even for a local connection, you’ll still need an active password to set up your preferred PIN.

That gives users the essential device-exclusive protection that ensures sensitive Microsoft account log-ins and details aren’t accessible even if the PIN is compromised. 

Access to other security features

Microsoft doesn’t usually advocate for using passwords as the primary sign-in option. That’s because of the risk that hackers can access the user’s Microsoft account if successful. However, you’ll need a password to create a PIN. 

In the same way that a password is fundamental to PIN creation, so too is a PIN when it comes to Windows additional security features.

You’ll need a PIN as a backup if your device allows biometric sign-in (fingerprint, facial recognition, or iris). That explains why Microsoft requires you to create a PIN first before setting up your preferred biometric sign-in. 

Frequently asked questions about PINs & Passwords in Windows 10

security pin device laying on computer keyboard

If you’re a Windows 10 user, you might still be curious about PINs, passwords, and other security measures. Let’s answer some of your questions!

Can a BitLocker perform the same function as TPM?  

If your laptop doesn’t have TPM, then you can enhance its overall security by enabling the BitLocker and setting a failed sign-ins limit. Below are steps to follow when looking to configure BitLocker for a device that doesn’t come with TPM protection.

Search the Local Group Policy Editor 

The first step to activating BitLocker is keying in ‘Local Group Policy Editor’ at the bottom of the screen.

  1. Once launched, double-click on computer configuration to kickstart the policy editing process.
  2. From the Computer Configuration, click on Administrative Templates, then Windows Components.
  3. You’ll then need to click on the BitLocker Drive Encryption button before finalizing by pressing the Operating System Drives button.
  4. Then, click on the policy titled Require additional authentication at startup. 

Set your account lockout threshold

You’ll need to set a lockout threshold to enhance your device’s overall security. To do this:

  1. Go to the search button at the bottom of your screen and type control panel to quickly access control panel settings.
  2. Once on the control panel, click on System and Security before double-clicking on the BitLocker Drive Encryption, where you’ll select the drive you want to protect.
  3. You’ll then need to click Set account lockout threshold. 

Enable the account lockout policy

To enable the account lockout policy:

  1. Go to the Local Group Policy Editor again and click on Computer Configuration, then Windows Settings.
  2. You’ll then need to double click on Security Settings before clicking on Account Policies, followed by Account Lockout Policy. 
  3. Finally, you’ll need to click on the Account lockout threshold setting to set the allowable number of invalid login attempts.
  4. Click Ok to complete the policy setting. 

Will changing my account password log me out of other devices?

When a user sets up Windows Hello, the biometric gesture or PIN set is usually specific to the device used. That means you can set Hello PIN for your Microsoft account on several devices.

If the biometric or PIN is configured as part of Hello for Business, then changing your account password won’t impact unlock or sign-in as it uses a certificate or key. 

But if Windows Hello for Business isn’t deployed, then changing the password will affect all devices, and you’ll need to provide the new password whenever you’re looking to sign in to your other devices. 

Are the other sign-in options effective?

Windows 10 provides users with multiple sign-in options for increased convenience. In addition to PINs and passwords, you can also use Windows Hello Fingerprint and Windows Hello Face for biometric security.

However, for you to use Hello Fingerprint and Hello Face, you’ll need to set a PIN as an alternative sign-in option if the fingerprint scanner or webcam malfunctions. 

Other sign-in options include the Security Key and Picture Password. The security key option allows for sign in through a Yubikey or a similar device.

While this is a relatively secure option, you’ll need to purchase the key and keep it to access your device. Losing a Yubikey will require you to recover your account and buy another Yubikey after de-associating the lost key from your account. 

How to choose a password for Windows 10

lock placed on top of computer keyboard

Setting a password for any device is essential for security enhancement. But even more important than setting a password is to choose an easy-to-remember but still complex password to keep malicious hackers at bay. Follow these tips when setting up a password for Windows 10. 

Avoid simple & sentimental passwords

While it might be tempting to choose a simple password that’s easy to key in during every sign-in, doing so might make you more exposed and prone to security breaches.

Ideally, your password should be complex to ensure that hackers don’t have an easy time.

Avoid sentimental passwords involving birthdates, anniversaries, or achievements, as they might be easy for dedicated hackers to study and breach.

Use a blend of characters, symbols, and numbers

You’ll need a strong password if you opt to use it as a sign-in method. Remember, in Windows 10, your password will be tied to your Microsoft account, meaning your files and details might be compromised should malicious hackers access your password. 

Therefore, when setting your password, go for a strong blend of symbols, numbers, and characters to ensure your device and account are well protected. 

Change your password regularly

Although not mandatory, changing your password every now and then is a great way to keep your device and Microsoft account well protected.

This tip specifically applies to people working in public spaces, if you have many sensitive files on your computer, or if you feel your account is under constant threat. 

Changing the password makes it hard to be hacked, increasing your overall security. However, you’ll need to find reliable (and safe) ways to store your password, as a frequent change of passwords means you’re more likely to forget the new ones. 

It’s useful to set up a PIN

In Windows 10, a PIN is the preferred sign-in option, as it provides an extra layer of security. That’s because you’ll need a password to set up a PIN.

Even better, the PIN will only apply to the specific device, thus leaving your Microsoft account safe even when your PC has been compromised. Setting a PIN, however, doesn’t mean you should set a weak password. 

Choosing a strong password and PIN is a surefire way to keep your device and account safe at all times. 

Wrapping up

Setting a password instead of a pin in Windows 10 is fairly straightforward. All you’ll need to do is press the Windows button on your keyboard or click on the start button at the bottom of the page.

Afterward, click on settings before selecting accounts. On the accounts page, click on Sign-in options and head straight to the Password button.

On the Password button, choose Add to set up a brand new password. You’ll then have to confirm the new password and key in a hint. Hit Next, then press the Finish button to complete the password creation process.

If you wish to set things up that your computer automatically logs in when it starts up, without having to input anything, please read my other article about how to enable Windows 10 auto-login.