Changing Windows XP Home or Pro local user account passwords via the Command Line

Posted on April 15, 2009 at 10:45 am

Changing a local user account’s password via the command line is a easy and effective. An example of its use is say you want to boot up into the recovery console, but you do not know the password. At this point, you have two options. One is to use a Boot CD that has a program to change passwords, or you can change the administrator?s password via command line. If you are able to log into the computer under any user (admin rights or not), the command line is the fastest and least intrusive way. If there is another user account on the computer and you don’t know the password, and your user account does not have admin rights to the computer is another example of why you would use this method.

The trick to resetting a user’s password via the command prompt is bringing up a DOS prompt under the ?SYSTEM? user. To do this, we will need to use the ?AT? command to schedule a DOS prompt ran by the ?SYSTEM? and not as a user.

1. Go to Start > Run and type in cmd.exe (or command or cmd)

command prompt

2. In the command prompt type in ?at 12:15pm /interactive cmd.exe? (replace ?12:15pm with the system time (time showing in the lower right hand corner of your screen) and add one or two minutes.

AT Command

3. In the current command prompt, type in ?exit? and press enter.

AT Command Successful

4. When the new command prompt appears, type in ?net user username password? replacing ?username?, with the username you wish to reset the password and ?password? with your new password.

Net User
Net User Example

* If you want to see a list of user accounts that are located on the computer, at the command prompt, type in ?net user?

 Net User List Users

** This method does not work for domain user accounts, only user accounts that are local to the machine.

***You will not be able to retrieve the current password using this method, you will only be able to change the password.

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