Security Windows

5 Tips to Reset the Administrator Password in Windows XP

Gavin Phillips Updated 29-01-2019

Protecting your computer with a strong, unique password remains incredibly important. You can protect your smartphone or laptop with a fingerprint, iris, and other biometric scanners. However, a strong single-use password is a vital layer of protection.


But what happens if you forget your Windows XP password? Are you locked out of your Windows XP account for good?

Luckily, that’s not the case. Here are five ways to reset the administrator password on your Windows XP laptop or computer.

1. Reset Windows XP Password Using Ctrl+Alt+Del

If your Windows XP system is set up to log in via the Welcome Screen, there is a chance you’ll be able to log in as the system administrator. Unfortunately, this is also dependent on there being no existing password on the Administrator account.

When you boot your system, it will load the Welcome Screen. Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete twice to load the user login panel.

This shows the log on screen for Windows XP


Press OK to attempt to log in without a username or password. If that doesn’t work, try typing Administrator into the Username field and pressing OK.

If you’re able to log in, head straight to Control Panel > User Account > Change Account. Then, select the account that you’d like to change the password for, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Note that this won’t work in later Windows versions because the Administrator account is disabled by default. Find out more in our guide to recovering a lost Windows admin password Lost Your Windows Administrator Password? Here's How to Fix It Looking for the default administrator password in Windows? Need to recover your account password? Here's how to do it. Read More in newer versions.

2. Reset Windows XP Password Using Safe Mode and Command Prompt

If your Windows XP Administrator account remains frustratingly out of reach, you can attempt to reset the password using Safe Mode and the Command Prompt.


To access Windows XP Safe Mode, you need to restart your computer. Press F8 while the computer is booting. (Sometimes tapping F8 helps if you’re unsure.) Select Safe Mode with Command Prompt.

Using Safe Mode with Command Prompt

Once you enter Safe Mode, head to Control Panel > User Account > Change Account. Then, select the account that you’d like to change the password for, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Reset Windows XP Password Using the Command Prompt

There are times, however, when certain computer issues will obstruct you from changing user settings, e.g., a virus. In those cases, you can use the Command Prompt from within Safe Mode.


From within Safe Mode, press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog. Type CMD and press Enter. This opens the Command Prompt. Now, type the following command:

net user [account name] [new password]

It should look like this:

This shows the Windows Command Prompt

The command selects your account and sets a new password. If you want to clear the password and set a new one at a later date, use the following command:

net user [account name] ""

3. Reset Windows XP Password via Another Account

Resetting your Windows XP password via an alternative account only works if you are using Windows XP Professional.

Start by right-clicking My Computer and selecting Manage.

This screen capture shows the Windows XP Start menu

Then, select System Tools > Local Users and Groups > Users. Find your user account, right-click, and select Set Password.

Windows XP Computer Management

Reset Windows XP Password via Remote User Management

If you cannot access Computer Management using your own or an alternative account, you can use remote access instead.

On a different computer (it doesn’t have to be Windows XP, but it does have to be a Windows machine), in the Computer Management window, right-click Computer Management (Local). Select Connect to another computer, then select Another Computer.

Enter the IP address of the computer you want to connect to How to Trace an IP Address to a PC & How to Find Your Own Want to see the IP address of your computer? Perhaps you want to discover where another computer is situated? Various free tools are available that tell you more about a computer an its IP address. Read More . If you’re on the same network, it will take the form of an internal LAN address, such 192.168.x.x. Alternatively, if you know the computer name, you can use that, e.g., \\DesktopPC.

Windows XP Connect to Another Computer

If you’re unsure and connected to the same network, select Browse, then Advanced. Finally, select Find Now to scan your local network for computers on your network.

This screen capture shows Windows XP's Find Another Computer feature "Select Computer"

Once you gain remote access, you can change the password by heading to System Tools > Local Users and Groups > Users. Then, find your user account, right-click, and select Set Password.

4. Reset Windows XP Password Using a Linux LiveCD or USB

If you’ve made it this far and are still locked on, this is the Windows XP password reset fix for you.

You can use a Linux LiveCD or USB to unlock Windows XP and reset your password. A Linux LiveCD or USB runs directly from the media and doesn’t require installation. Furthermore, some Linux distributions have special tools for unlocking Windows systems The 5 Best Rescue and Recovery Disks for a Windows System Restore Here are the best Windows rescue disks to help you access your computer for making repairs and backups, even when it won't boot. Read More .

We’ve previously detailed the process of installing the Linux distribution to a CD or USB 3 Ways to Reset a Forgotten Windows Administrator Password Forgetting your computer password is scary, but you still have options. Here are three easy methods to reset your Windows administrator password and get back into your computer. Read More , as well as how to reset a password.

However, I’ll give you a rundown of how to reset your locked Windows XP administrator account right here.

  1. Make your bootable Linux CD or USB drive Create a Bootable USB From an ISO With These 10 Tools Want to create a bootable USB drive from an ISO file? We've got the ten best bootable USB pendrive creators around. Read More .
    (Our guide to installing Ubuntu on a flash drive! Install Ubuntu on Your Computer Using a USB Flash Drive Want to try Linux but don't own a DVD burner? Why not use a USB drive instead? Here's how to install Ubuntu from USB in minutes. Read More )
  2. Reboot the Windows XP machine. Press either F12, ESC, or Delete to choose your boot device. Select your CD or USB drive when prompted.
  3. Press Ctrl + L to edit the Location Type computer:/// to see all your drives. Select your Windows installation, right-click, and select Mount.
  4. Open the Linux Terminal by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T. Run the following command to install password reset utility chntpw: sudo apt-get install chntpw. (Ignoring the period.)
  5. Change the working directory using the following command: cd /mnt/Windows/System32/config
  6. Retrieve a list of Windows users using the following command: sudo chntpw -1 SAM. (Ignoring the period.)
  7. Find your account username. Then, use the following command to select the account: sudo chntpw -u “USER NAME” SAM. Then, type 2to enter editing mode.
  8. Type a new password, hit Enter to submit, and y to confirm.
  9. Reboot into Windows and use the new password.

5. Reset Windows XP Password: Full Format and Reinstallation

If nothing, but nothing else works, and you’re still somehow locked out of your account, there is only one more option: fire. Okay, not fire. But you will have to remove your hard drive from its host machine, connect it to another machine to complete a backup, and then format the drive.

Once the format is complete, you can reinstall Windows XP, and enter a new password that you can actually remember 6 Tips For Creating An Unbreakable Password That You Can Remember If your passwords are not unique and unbreakable, you might as well open the front door and invite the robbers in for lunch. Read More .

Windows XP Password Reset Complete

One of the tips and tricks we’ve covered should have helped you reset your Windows XP account password. Hopefully, you didn’t have to resort to a full system nuke and reinstall—that can be a real pain!

Note that even though Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP, you can still keep your Windows XP installation safe How to Tweak Windows XP and Stop Worrying About the Apocalypse Are you forced to stay with Windows XP? Using an unsupported operating system is risky, but don't despair! We show you how you can carry on running Windows XP, if you must. Read More , as well as tweak Windows XP to receive security updates How to Keep Getting Windows XP Updates for Years to Come Still hanging out on Windows XP? Here's an unofficial way to bring more updates to the antiquated OS. Read More .

Image Credit: The Hack Today

Related topics: Boot Screen, Command Prompt, Live CD, Password, Windows Tips, Windows XP.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Jenn
    June 3, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    I can't log into any accounts besides the Guest account. How do I fix this with a very limited account??

  2. James
    April 14, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    I am trying to do this but for the net user it wont work
    The user account is 2 words is that affecting it?

  3. Vijay Kumar
    September 26, 2017 at 4:15 am

    For windows 10 recover windows 10 administrator password

  4. Vijay Kumar
    September 26, 2017 at 4:14 am

    Great Article has been published by you, but as you know Windows XP is so old now days Here is tutorial recover windows 10 administrator password for windows 10. it is useful for other readers

  5. Brian Butterworth
    August 18, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    I tried your first recommendation and it work like a charm. Thanks for the info.

    P.S. I too am trying to resurrect my old HP laptop which I love to this day

  6. Chris
    July 12, 2017 at 1:05 am

    What is this article about an insecure OS even doing here? What? Is this for businesses? Chase they're the only ones who should use XP. They might be forced to by circumstances.

    • Gavin Phillips
      July 12, 2017 at 9:17 am

      Hi Chris,

      Good question: why is an article about an out of date, security issue featuring on our front page?

      Well, we're currently undergoing a project to rewrite some of our older articles that still see a significant amount of traffic. In this, we're updating images, internal links, and fact checking, as well as updating the actual content where needed. This is one of those articles. I hope that explains it!


      • Chris
        July 13, 2017 at 3:09 am

        Oh! Tad embarrassed now. Feel a little bit tech justice warrior there.

        On the same note, I admire your team's standards. It's well written. :)

        • Gavin Phillips
          July 13, 2017 at 10:33 am

          No problem, Chris, it is a bit surprising to see an article like this floating around.

          Thank you very much!

  7. Dooma
    June 2, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Thank alot

  8. Dooma
    June 2, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Thanks a lot u really helped me

  9. Mike
    May 27, 2017 at 4:25 am

    Even when I try to boot into Safe Mode, it still asks for a password.

    • Mark Lancaster
      July 28, 2017 at 4:55 pm


      Did you ever receive an answer to your question? I have the same problem!


      • Kandis
        September 3, 2017 at 2:50 am

        I have the same problem! It still asks for the password and I cant open the command prompt at all!! I am so discouraged. I found this old laptop in the dumpster and it seems to work i just can not get it. I want to somehow set it back to factory settings but i can not figure it out. Im about ready to put it back in the dang dumpster!!

        • J Lyons
          March 26, 2018 at 10:40 pm

          Wondered if you got into the control settings? I too am having a problem with not being able to open command prompt without it asking me for the password!

    • Wil
      December 6, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      Hi. I too am experiencing the same problem currently. Haven't been on my old desktop in years and dusted it off to get files and forgot the password. Even in safe mode it asks for s password. Do u have any information to help me?

  10. Mukthayi
    May 11, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Thank you, thank you so worked

  11. Snowy wolf
    February 20, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Thanks, no. 3 worked for me :)

  12. Mike
    January 25, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Great, thank you so much! That saved the day!

  13. Sharin
    January 22, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Thank you so much! I needed some photos off an old laptop I haven't used in years. This helped so much, cheers

  14. Perry Pete
    November 20, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    I tried inserting the disk but it won't kick the disk from the computer any suggestions on how to eject the disk

  15. mikey
    October 25, 2016 at 7:59 am

    im trying to get in but none of my passwords r working n i need to really get into my computer i got the windows xp pro

  16. Venugopal
    April 14, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    perfect answer!

  17. Andrew
    March 23, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Love this!!

  18. nikhil
    February 25, 2016 at 8:14 am

    very thanks it works

    • Praveen
      July 28, 2016 at 11:19 am

      Give your contact no it is not working

  19. Jen
    February 19, 2016 at 2:18 am

    Method 3 - How do I open Run?

  20. Kyle
    November 28, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    So I believe I have a crazy virus. I don't have the original cds and I cannot get to safe mode through the f8 button. When I get on a name without admin abilities i went to computer management and tried to change administrator's password just like directed to above and it told me access denied. Next I am going to try to take out the hard drive but I was hoping it wouldn't come to that. Anyone have any ideas?

  21. Deepak
    April 27, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Thanks it help me too.

  22. THAZIT
    April 24, 2015 at 5:25 am

    6 years later it took me 3 minutes to reset XP PRO admin that I got in the divorce! THANKS

  23. zaheer sadat
    February 21, 2015 at 9:32 am

    send me all informations in my email

  24. zaheer sadat
    February 21, 2015 at 9:31 am

    how i can make the USB device to bootable without any application by commands

  25. zaheer sadat
    February 21, 2015 at 9:30 am

    how i can break the windows 7 ,8 administrator password without cds

  26. kevin
    December 19, 2009 at 1:43 am

    There are a lot of tools and utilities that can be downloaded and used to recover, reset, retrieve or reveal existing password. These windows password recovery utilities, free or paid, are usually a Linux boot disk or CD that able to comes with NT file system (NTFS) drivers and software that will read the registry and rewrite the password hashes, or can brute force crack the password for any user account including the Administrators. The advantage is that there is no fear of leaking your password to outsiders, while the process requires physical access to the console and a floppy or CD drive, depending on which tool you choose. And it’s not easy, although it always work!
    Below is the most famous recovery tool I found:
    Windows Password Recovery Tool 3.0 – it is the most popular Windows password cracker . It is a very efficient implementation of windows any versions. It comes with a Graphical User Interface and runs on multiple platforms.

    Password Recovery Bundle –This is a utility to reset the password of any user that has a valid (local) account on your windows system. You do not need to know the old password to set a new one. It works offline, that is, you have to shutdown your computer and boot off a floppydisk or CD. It’ll detect and offer to unlock locked or disabled out user accounts. It is also an almost fully functional registry editor.

    Windows Password Key 8.0 -It is considered as the best tool to reset local administrator and user passwords on any Windows system. It creates a password recovery CD/DVD, USB Flash Drive for home, business and enterprise. And most of all, it's the most popular and safe solution for removing your Windows password until now.

  27. Joseph
    December 16, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Title: 5 Tips to Reset the Admin Password;

    One Solution: "take out your hard drive, put it into another computer, backup your data, format the hard drive, put it back into the original computer, and re-install Windows."

    The others are pretty obvious, but wow, had never thought of doing this one to, ahem "reset" a password.

    • ali raza
      May 9, 2015 at 4:10 am

      good job

  28. mgingerhack
    December 13, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    what about vista..there is no local user and group....

  29. Doug
    December 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    The procedure from step 2 ("This will only work if you have Windows XP Professional, and you can login with an account. Right click on My Computer and select Manage. Then select Local User and Groups –> Users. Right click on your username and select Set Password. Follow the prompts and set yourself a new password.") gives me a window that warns "Resetting this password may cause irreversible loss of information for this user account ...", which is just enough to make me stop (effective warning, eh?).

    Is this just something to keep out those of us who don't know what we're doing, or is it truly as serious as they make it sound?

    Thanks for all of the options in this article, by the way.

    • Jack Cola
      December 4, 2009 at 7:51 pm

      Hi Doug,
      As a last resort, you may want to do this. Off memory, I think it only affects if you use Offline files and sync files, however, don't quote me on that.

      And thankyou for your other suggestions too.

  30. kaotic
    December 4, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    you forgot one of my faves: start -> Run -> then type "control userpasswords2" (no quotes)

  31. Krispekreme
    December 3, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Just use Offline NT Password & Registry Editor

    * This is a utility to (re)set the password of any user that has a valid (local) account on your Windows NT/2k/XP/Vista etc system.
    * You do not need to know the old password to set a new one.
    * It works offline, that is, you have to shutdown your computer and boot off a floppydisk or CD or another system.
    * Will detect and offer to unlock locked or disabled out user accounts!
    * There is also a registry editor and other registry utilities that works under linux/unix, and can be used for other things than password editing.

  32. jorel314
    December 3, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Ophcrack is another option which retrieves your original password for you.