What to Know
- Insert the install DVD, restart; click Repair > Vista > Next > System Recovery Options > Command Prompt.
- Enter copy c:\windows\system32\utilman.exe c:\ and copy c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe c:\windows\system32\utilman.exe
- Remove the install DVD, and restart. Use the net user command to reset your username and password.
This article explains how to reset a Windows Vista password.
How to Reset a Windows Vista Password
If you know your password and just want to change it there's an easier procedure. Otherwise, follow these steps.
If you can't find, or never had, a Windows Vista install disc, it's okay to borrow someone else's. You're not going to reinstall Windows Vista or doing anything that breaks your, or your friend's, license agreement with Microsoft.
Wait for the Install Windows screen to appear and then press Next.
Select Repair your computer, located near the bottom of the window, above the Microsoft copyright notice.
Wait while your Windows Vista installation is located on your computer.
Once your Windows Vista installation is found, look for the drive letter noted in the Location column.
Most Windows Vista installations will show C: but sometimes it'll be D:. Whatever it may be, remember it or jot it down.
From the Operating System list, of probably just one entry, highlight Windows Vista and then select Next. System Recovery Options will open.
Choose Command Prompt from the list of recovery tools.
copy c:\windows\system32\utilman.exe c:\
copy c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe c:\windows\system32\utilman.exe
Answer Yes to the Overwrite question you're asked after executing the second command.
If Windows Vista is installed on a drive other than the C: drive, something you determined in Step 4 above, change the four instances of c: in the two commands above with whatever drive letter it should be.
Remove your Windows Vista disc and restart the computer.
Wait for Windows to boot to the Vista login screen.
On the Windows Vista login screen, select the little pie-shaped icon at the bottom-left corner.
Now that Command Prompt is open, use the net user command as demonstrated below but replace myuser with your username and newpassword with the password you want to set:
net user myuser newpassword
For example, we might do something like this:
net user Jon [email protected]
Put double quotes around your username if it includes spaces. For example: net user "Jon Fisher" [email protected].
Once you see the "command completed successfully" message, close Command Prompt and log in with your new password!
If you can't get in, restart your computer and try again.
Now that you're logged back in, create a Windows Vista password reset disk. Once you have one of these, you'll never need to worry about forgetting your password or hacking your way back in like this again.
Lastly, we recommend reversing the changes you made to make this trick work. You don't have to, but if you don't, you'll no longer have access to Vista's accessibility features at the login screen. To undo everything, except for your password—which will keep working as you've reset it in Step 10, repeat Steps 1 through 6 exactly as outlined above.
From Command Prompt, execute the following command and then restart your computer again:
copy c:\utilman.exe c:\windows\system32\utilman.exe
Answer Yes when asked to confirm the overwriting of utilman.exe.
Aside from this trick, there are other ways to reset or recover a forgotten Windows Vista password.
Not Using Windows Vista?
You can reset a Windows password using this utilman trick in other versions of Windows, too, but the process is a little different.