Two or more people who share a PC for work could be the prelude to nervousness, misunderstandings, and problems related to privacy. Having a co-worker who can potentially read, edit and delete your files and folders may be something that negatively affects your serenity. Should you then start deleting or replacing your favorite apps? And what about the customizations of the operating system?

Although it may seem absurd, in some offices computers are shared between two or more workers and everything takes place as quietly as possible. This is thanks to Windows 10, an operating system that has excellent tools to allow you to share with other users a PC without fear of sorts.

Share a PC with other users? We’ll explain how to take advantage of Windows 10 in this regard

Windows 10 allows more people to share the same PC. To do this, simply create separate accounts for each person who will use the computer in question. Each user thus obtains his own storage space, his own applications, and a personal desktop as well as his personal settings. The PC administrator sets up and manages all accounts. The administrator account is established when Windows is installed or used for the first time on the PC in question.

Once you are an administrator, setting up a user account is easy:

  • click on the Start button
  • select Settings and then choose Account
  • on the Account screen, select Family and other users from the menu on the left
  • To set up an account for a colleague, go to the Other users section and click Add another user to the PC

After creating an account for someone else, the name appears on the Account page. You will need the email address of the person for whom you wish to create an account. Theoretically, it should be the login information for the person’s Microsoft account, so that it can use all personal Windows settings, which can access OneDrive storage and download and install apps from the Microsoft Store.

On the screen that appears, enter the email address of the person for whom you want to create a user account, click OK, and then click Finish. The user’s name now appears on the Family and other users account page.

How to use a new account

If you are the owner of the new account, there are two ways to start using it. You can click on the icon representing the current user account of the PC. This shows all the accounts on the PC. Click on the name that matches your profile and log in to your account with your Microsoft account password. Alternatively, you can restart the PC. The Windows login screen will now have two accounts: yours and that of the administrator. You can click on the account name and log in with your personal credentials.

The account will have its own separate OneDrive storage. The files and local folders of each user will not be accessible to the other. You will see the Windows apps you have installed, but not those of others, and vice versa. Since this is a Microsoft account, the files and settings will be synced with all the other devices connected to your account.

Create a new user without using a Microsoft account

Creating a shared PC if the other person does not have a Microsoft account requires a little more work. To do this, go to Settings – Account – Family and other users – Add another user to this PC. From the screen that appears, click I do not have this person’s login information. Then, at the bottom of the next screen, click Add a user without a Microsoft account.

Now you can add a username and password. The person’s account name will be displayed as if it were a previously mentioned Microsoft account. When you create an account for someone this way, it is referred to as a local account. As is easily understood, unlike a Microsoft account, it will not synchronize settings between devices and will not give access to OneDrive. Also, when someone has a local account, they will not be able to download or install apps from the Microsoft Store. You will not be able to install desktop applications yourself (when you try to install them, the administrator account password is required). So an administrator will need to be nearby to type the password each time to install desktop applications.

Switch between accounts

Once your account has been set up, it’s easy to switch from the currently running account to yours. If someone else has used Windows 10 a few minutes before and you would like to access it, you can click the Start button, select the icon representing the current user’s account, then click on your own and type in the password. Of course, you can also access from the lock screen, which shows all user accounts on the machine. Note: When a PC is rebooted or switched off, all users are automatically disconnected. So, let’s say that if someone is connected to his account and has not yet saved his work and an accounting change takes place, the work will be irretrievably lost.

In general, however, it is always advisable to log out of your account before allowing someone else to use the same computer. It only takes a moment: just click on your account name at the top of the Start menu, then select Exit.

How to manage user accounts on Windows 10

If you want to allow another user to log in as an administrator, it’s easy. Select Settings – Accounts – Family and other users, select the account to which you want to assign administrator rights, click Change account type, then Account type. Choose Admin and click OK. You can reverse the process to “degrade” an administrator in a standard user (as long as you are an Administrator).

To permanently delete an account you must follow the following path:  Settings – Account – Family and other users, then click on the account you want to remove and then click Remove. A screen is displayed that warns you that by deleting the account, you also delete all data associated with it, including files, desktop settings, apps, music, and so on. Also, please note that you can delete an account only if it is not currently in use.

A little trick: how to activate a “special” administrator account

As I explained earlier, the account you create when you install Windows is the PC administrator’s account: this gives you full control over how Windows 10 works and the subsequent accounts you create. But Windows 10 also sets up an administrator account that is hidden during installation.

This hidden account has an advantage over a regular administrator: when you use it, you will not receive user account control requests (UAC). This makes troubleshooting and customizing Windows much easier because it does not bother the user with annoying UAC notifications.

It is easy to turn on and use the hidden administrator account. First, you need to make sure you use a regular administrator account. Then click on the Start button, scroll down through the apps and click on Windows System. Right-click Command Prompt from the drop-down menu that appears and then click Run as administrator. The command prompt starts.

At the command prompt, type:

net user administrator / active: yes

and press the Enter key. This activates the hidden administrator account. It will be displayed in the login screen of Windows 10 and in the Start menu screen: just click on it to use it like any other account. If you want to disable the hidden account, you need to go back to the command prompt and type net user administrator / active: no and press Enter.

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