Attempted to sign in with one of your Windows 7 user accounts, and found out you can’t? We know how stressful this is, especially if a lot of user data has accumulated over time, and your desktop was organized neatly. Reinstalling Windows 7 or updating to Windows 10 using the same Windows 7 product key is always a possibility. Fortunately, that’s only the last resort option – you don’t have to give up your dreams of signing back in. At least, not until you’ve exhausted every possibility below. So, let’s not waste any more of your precious time, and get into how to recover Windows 7 password.
1. Recovering Windows 7 password via another user account
Do you have access to any other user account with Administrator permissions? If so, here’s how to restore Windows 7 password:
- Open the Start menu by pressing the Windows key, or clicking on Start in the bottom left corner.
- Go to Control Panel, then User Accounts.
- Click on Manage another account under Make changes to your user account.
- Click on the user account you want to modify the password for.
- Enter a new password twice, then add a password hint.
- Click on the Change password button, restart your computer, and sign in with a newly configured password.
2. Recover Windows 7 password via password reset disk
If you can’t log in at all, use the Microsoft-approved and recommended techniques. That means using a password reset disk from a CD/DVD or USB. The only obstacle is that you had to have created the disk beforehand. If you’ve done that, follow the steps mentioned in method 3 of our “recover Windows 10 password” guide.
3. Windows 7 password recovery via Command Prompt
Recovering Windows 7 password using Command Prompt can be done in 3 ways:
1. Use Safe Mode with Command Prompt
This method requires your PC to have a hidden user account named “Administrator” which has no password. Follow these instructions to reset Windows 7 password via Safe Mode:
- Boot your computer and while it’s starting, keep pressing the key (usually F8) required to enter Advanced Boot Options.
- After you enter the menu, use the arrow keys to highlight Safe Mode with Command Prompt, then press Enter.
- A Command Prompt window will open. Type the following:
net user [username] [new_password]
- Replace [username] with the username of your Windows 7 user account, then set a new password.
- Restart your PC and log in with a new password.
2. Replace Sticky Keys with Command Prompt
While most people will have a hidden Administrator account, it might be disabled for some. In that case, you can use this nifty trick to restore Windows 7 password:
- Power on your PC, and when it gets to the Windows 7 logo, power it off by:
- Pressing and holding the power button on your PC case.
- Flicking the power button on your power supply from position 1 to 0.
- Turn your PC on again, and you’ll be at the Windows Error Recovery screen.
- Select the Launch Startup Repair (recommended) option by pressing Enter.
- A Startup Repair window will open. Let it scan for a while, and the process will fail.
- Ignore the request to send data to Microsoft by clicking on Show problem details.
- A text box will expand. Scroll to the bottom of it, and click on the following link:
- The file will open in Notepad. Click on File in the top left corner, then Open.
- Open your Windows 7 directory, then go to Windows > System32 folders.
- Under Files of type, select All Files.
- Now, find the sethc.exe file inside the System32 folder, and right-click on it.
- Select Rename, then change its name to anything you want, for example, sethc-pass.exe.
- Now, find the cmd.exe file, highlight it, and make a copy of it (press Ctrl + C, then Ctrl + V).
- Rename the cmd – copy.exe file to sethc.exe.
- Exit out of the window, and click on the Finish button.
- On the account login screen, press the Shift key 5 times in a row. You’ll hear beeping, and Command Prompt will open.
- Tip. If this doesn’t work, restart your computer and try step 15 again.
- Repeat steps 3-5 in the “Safe Mode with Command Prompt” method.
- Congrats, you’ve recovered the password for Windows 7 and can sign in.
3. Recover Windows 7 password from the Windows Setup
This technique involves plugging in a CD/DVD drive or a USB drive with Windows 7 setup on it. Then, during the installation process, you can switch the functionality of the Ease of Access button, located in the bottom left corner of your log-in screen, with Command Prompt. To do this, refer to the “Windows 10 password recovery” guide mentioned above. More precisely, the steps in method 4, submethod 2 (Use a USB installation drive). After you click the Ease of Access button on the login screen, follow steps 3 through 5 in the “Safe Mode with Command Prompt” method above to set up a new Windows 7 password.
4. Use third-party Windows password recovery software
Over the years, many developers and companies have created tools for this purpose. Some can analyze, then display the forgotten Windows 7 password so you can log in right away. In that case, you should change it nonetheless, using method 1. Others work the same as we demonstrated, but have a nice-looking GUI (Graphical User Interface). We don’t recommend using them, just mentioning the possibility exists. That’s because we’re convinced even complete beginners can follow the instructions above.
5. Ask Microsoft for help
If you don’t think you’re up to the task or feel uncomfortable modifying the system files, it’s no big deal. You can contact Microsoft, for free, using method 8 in our “recover Windows 10 product key” article.