How to Force Your PC Users to Change Passwords

Ben Stegner 07-11-2016

Did you know that you can force Windows users to change their passwords?


By default, password expiration is disabled, but you can turn it on easily. There are two methods for doing this based on whether you have the Home or Pro editions of Windows Windows 10 Home vs. Pro: Do You Need to Upgrade? Windows 10 Pro offers more features than Home, but the upgrade also carries a $99 price tag. Let's see whether it's worth it. Read More , and these processes will work on Windows 7, 8, and 10.

On Windows Pro

Professional users have a convenient method for this change. Type management into the Start Menu and open the Computer Management utility. Select Local Users and Groups on the left side, and expand Users to change the expiration policy for individual accounts.

Right-click the user you want to change, choose Properties, and under the General tab, uncheck Password never expires. Next, we need to change the password policy. Type Local security policy into the Start Menu to launch that tool, then expand Account Policies > Password Policy.

Here you can change the amount of time after which a user must change his password (Maximum password age), prevent users from using the same password multiple times (Enforce password history), set a minimum password length, and enforce complexity (passwords must contain three of the four: lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols).

After the number of days you specify, the user will be forced to change his password before logging in.


On Windows Home

Windows Home users can perform the same process, but they must do it through the command prompt, as the utilities used in the above method aren’t present in Windows Home.

Open an administrator command prompt by typing cmd into the Start Menu, right-clicking its entry, and choosing Run as Administrator.

To enable password expiration for a single user account, type this line, replacing USER with the username of the account:

wmic UserAccount where Name='USER' set PasswordExpires=True

If you want passwords to expire for all user accounts on the machine, use this command instead:

wmic UserAccount set PasswordExpires=True

After this, log into the account that you want to change the password expiration time for. Open an administrator command prompt again, then type this command, replacing 42 (the default) with the number of days before a password expires:

net accounts /maxpwage:42

Note that in Windows 8 and 10, these changes will not affects users who sign in with a Microsoft account The Pros and Cons of Using a Microsoft Account with Windows A single Microsoft Account allows you to log into a wide range of Microsoft services and apps. We show you the pros and cons of using a Microsoft Account with Windows. Read More . You’ll need to sign in with a local account instead.

Do you need to force password expiration on your computer’s users? Let us know if this helped you down in the comments!

Image Credit: Markus Gann via Shutterstock

Related topics: Computer Security, Password, Windows 10.

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