Microsoft seems to be unbeatable when it comes to the percentage of the users of Windows. However, Google’s Gmail seems to be the leader with the number of users, with 1.5 billion as of October 2018. Microsoft never revealed their number, although we’re sure their marketing department would boast the number if it was anywhere close. Regardless, that doesn’t make it any less important, and losing access to your Microsoft account can truly wreak havoc. For one, it might block access to Windows if you use a Microsoft account to log in. It can also deny your attempts to log into Xbox, Microsoft Store, and other online services and products. And, if hacked and used maliciously, it can truly ruin your life, from your job, finances, and even relationships.
We don’t need to scare you into rushing to start the retrieval process. Without further ado, here’s how to recover a Microsoft account.
Figure out what you know and don’t know
Before you start the journey, you need to go through a preparation process. Open your notebook, whether physical or on your computer/smartphone, or look wherever you keep your private information. Gather as much information as possible, including older passwords, the time you created the account, and the usernames it held (if they changed). Finally, prepare the most recent known details about your Microsoft account.
How to reset a Microsoft password when you can log in
There are many cases when you can sign in, but you suspect someone is trying to take control of your account. Giving it away but regretting the decision or hacking, keyloggers, and malware come to mind instantly. Or you like to be diligent and want to change it every once in a while, which is good practice. Here’s how to do it.
- Make sure you’re logged in to the correct Microsoft account.
- Either click on your icon in the top right corner, then My Microsoft account, then Security at the top of the page or click Microsoft Security to be redirected instantly.
- Spot Change password in the top left corner, below the title, and click on it.
- You are now redirected to Verify your identity page.
- If there was a phone number attached to your Microsoft, it would be easiest to have an SMS sent to it, by checking Text (phone number) and clicking Next.
- Enter the last 4 digits of your phone number to proceed.
- Then, enter the 7-digit code you received as an SMS on your phone to proceed.
- You will often receive a new recovery code. It’s a 25-character code and will look something like A1A1A-B2B2B-C3C3C-D4D4D-E5E5E. It is recommended to write it down physically or to print it out instead of writing it in the Notes on your computer or smartphone.
- Optional. You will be asked to download their app that uses your smartphone’s fingerprint sensor to log you in without ever typing a password. You can either click on No thanks or Get it now.
- If you clicked on No thanks, you will be redirected to the Change your password screen. Enter your current password, then enter the new password twice.
- Optional. You can also tick the checkbox Make me change my password every 72 days if you want to improve your privacy and security habits.
- Click on Save, and you’re done.
What if I don’t have a phone number attached to my Microsoft account?
In that case, you will be either asked to answer the security questions you chose, or to receive a code to your alternative e-mail address. In the latter case, the process is nearly identical, only you’ll receive a code to your e-mail instead of an SMS.
- If you can’t complete either of these tasks, click on I don’t have any of these at the Verify your identity page.
- You will be asked to improve your security information. This includes adding a new phone number or adding an alternate e-mail address, or both.
- Click Next after you entered one of those or both.
- Check your secondary e-mail or your smartphone. In the case of an alternative e-mail, you will only be asked to click on Continue in the e-mail, and redirected back to Microsoft’s website. In the case of a phone number, you’ll either receive a link to click or a code to enter.
- It will take a month for the security information to be accepted and become a permanent part of your account.
Explanation. This is to prevent hackers from changing information, thus taking control of your Microsoft account, and running with it. This also means that you will be unable to change your password for a month. But, you will still be able to log in normally. Look at it from Microsoft’s perspective – they cannot recognize who the person is, and it was your “fault” for not adding alternative information in the first place.
How to reset a forgotten Microsoft password
- Head to the Microsoft Sign-In page.
- Enter your Microsoft account’s username or e-mail address. If there is a phone number attached to the account, you can use that instead.
- Alternative. If you use your Microsoft account to log into Skype, and you don’t remember any of the three details, you can also enter your Skype name instead.
- Click Next.
- At the Enter password page, click on Forgot password? below.
- You are again redirected to a page where you will be asked to verify your identity.
- Enter the code you received as an SMS to the phone number. Or, answer the security questions you set up when you created your account. Or, enter the code you received to the e-mail address.
What to do if I cannot verify my identity?
- Click on I don’t have any of these below.
- Your first option is to enter a 25-character recovery code we mentioned above. It will look like A1A1A-B2B2B-C3C3C-D4D4D-E5E5E. If you have it, click on the Use recovery code button. If you don’t, click on No.
- You are now asked to provide a secondary e-mail address you have access to. Make sure you do, since Microsoft will contact you there, or create a new one.
- Complete the captcha challenge below and click on Next.
- Follow the instructions you received in the secondary mail. It is typically a code that you’ll be required to give back to Microsoft when contacted and asked for it, thus verifying your identity.
- If successful, you will receive a link to reset your password, in which case it will be the same screen as mentioned above.