Managing User Accounts and Parental Controls

Windows 8 parental controls are helpful, as are Windows 8 user account control features. Learn how to use them both here.

Managing user accounts and parental controls

Video: Managing User Accounts and Parental Controls

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A user account allows you to sign in to Windows 8. By default, your computer already has one user account, which you were required to create when setting up Windows 8. If you plan to share your computer, you can create a separate user account for each member of your home or office.

You can also choose to associate any new user account with a Microsoft account. Signing in with a Microsoft account will bring all of your OneDrive files, contacts, and more into the Start screen. You can even sign in to a different computer that has Windows 8, and all of your important files will be there.

In this lesson, you'll learn how to add, manage, and switch between user accounts. We'll also talk about how to set parental controls for individual users.

Watch the video to learn how to create accounts and turn on parental controls.

Screenshot of Windows 8Choosing a user from the sign-in screen

If you don't already have a Microsoft account, check out our lesson on Creating a Microsoft Account to learn more.

Adding users

It's easy to add new user accounts to your computer. Connecting users to a Microsoft account will help them get the most out of Windows 8, but you can also add a local user account that exists only on your computer if a user prefers not to create a Microsoft account.

You must be signed in as an Administrator (the first user account created on your computer) to add a new user.

To add a new user (with a Microsoft account):

  1. From the Start screen, hover the mouse in the lower-right corner to access the Charms bar, then select Settings.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Accessing Settings from the Charms Bar
  2. Locate and select Change PC Settings.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Clicking Change PC settings
  3. PC Settings will appear. Select Users on the left.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Clicking Users
  4. The Users pane will appear on the right. Locate and select Add a user.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Adding a new user
  5. Enter the user's Microsoft account username, then click Next to continue.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Entering a Microsoft account username
  6. Optional: If the user is a child, check the box to activate Family Safety, which will let you set parental controls. We'll talk more about parental controls later in this lesson.
  7. Click Finish.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Clicking Finish
  8. The user will be added.


    Screenshot of Windows 8The added user

It may take several minutes to configure a user's settings when logging in with a Microsoft account for the first time.

To add a new local user (without a Microsoft account):

  1. Navigate to the Users pane from PC Settings. Click Add a user.
  2. Locate and select Sign in without a Microsoft account.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Clicking Sign in without a Microsoft account
  3. Click Local account to continue.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Adding a Local user
  4. Enter an account name, and type the desired password. It's important to choose a strong password—in other words, one that is easy to remember but difficult for someone else to guess. For more information, check out Password Tips in our Tech Savvy tutorial.
  5. Re-enter the password and include a hint, then click Next to continue.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Choosing a password and adding account details
  6. Optional: Check the box to activate Family Safety.
  7. Click Finish.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Clicking Finish
  8. The user will be added.


    Screenshot of Windows 8The added local user

Switching users

If you have multiple user accounts on your computer, it's easy to switch between users without signing out or closing your current apps. Switching users will lock the current user, so you won't need to worry about someone else accessing your account.

You can switch back by selecting the desired user from the drop-down menu. You'll need to re-enter your password to unlock the account.

Screenshot of Windows 8Switching back to the original user

Managing user accounts

By default, the user account you created when setting up Windows 8 is an Administrator account. An Administrator account allows you to make top-level changes to the computer, like adding new users or modifying specific settings. Any users you add are automatically assigned to a Standard account, which should meet the everyday needs of most users. You will probably only need one Administrator account on a shared computer, but you have the option to promote any user to an Administrator account if you want.

To change the account type:

  1. From the Desktop view, hover the mouse in the lower-right corner to access the Charms bar, then select Settings.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Accessing Settings from the Desktop view
  2. Locate and select Control Panel from the Settings Pane.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Clicking Control Panel
  3. The Control Panel will appear. Select Change account type below the User Accounts and Family Safety group.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Clicking Change account type
  4. The Manage Accounts dialog box will appear. Select the desired user account.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Selecting the desired user account
  5. The Change Account Type dialog box will appear. Choose Administrator, and then select Change Account Type. The user will now have administrative privileges.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Granting Administrative privileges

Parental controls

Windows 8 offers a variety of parental controls that can help you monitor your children's activity and protect them from inappropriate content. For example, you can restrict certain apps and websites or limit the amount of time a user can spend on the computer. You'll need to add an account for each user you wish to monitor.

To set parental controls:

  1. From the Control Panel, locate and select Set up Family Safety for any user below the User Accounts and Family Safety group.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Opening parental controls
  2. The Family Safety dialog box will appear. Select the desired user.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Choosing a user for parental controls
  3. The Family Safety settings pane will appear. Make sure Family Safety is turned On. You'll then be able to set parental controls for the selected user.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about setting the parental controls from the Family Safety settings pane.

labeled graphic

View Activity Reports

Click here to view the most recent activity report.

App Restrictions

You can use app restrictions to prevent a user from opening certain applications, like email or messaging.

Windows Store and Game Restrictions

Use the store and game restrictions to limit what kind of apps a user can download from the Windows store.

Time Limits

Time limits allow you to control how much time a user can spend on the computer. You can also set specifc curfews, which restrict when a user can access the computer.

Web Filtering

You can use the web filtering controls to limit the websites that a user can access. You can set general content levels and block specific sites.

Family Safety

Make sure that Family Safety is turned on if you wish to set parental controls for a user.

Activity Reporting

Turn on activity reporting if you wish to see weekly reports on how a user spends their time on the computer, including frequently visited websites, apps, and more.