Security Windows

Going Private – How To Switch To A Local Account On Windows 8.1

Matt Smith 23-09-2014

Many users who’ve installed Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 have set up a Microsoft account How Microsoft Overhauled User Accounts In Windows 8 What's up with user accounts in Windows 8? It's not complicated - Microsoft wants everyone to use an online account to sign into their desktop operating system. Sure, they offer an offline equivalent, but they... Read More that’s accessible through a web browser as well as through their local machine. In many cases, users of Windows 8.1 are selecting a connected account solely because they think there’s no other choice. In truth, going private with a local Windows account is a simple task anyone can complete in five minutes or less.


Why Switch?

Microsoft doesn’t require that users set up an account with the company during the installation of Windows 8.1 How To Safely Upgrade To Windows 8.1 Are horror stories of how Windows 8.1 upgrades went horribly wrong keeping you from upgrading yourself? If you are longing to try Windows 8.1, you can now learn from other people's lessons and upgrade safely! Read More , but the installer does everything possible to make it appear that an account is required. As a result, many users end up with a Microsoft account that they don’t want and won’t use.

While the services provide by linking to a Microsoft account can be useful, they’re by no means critical. Windows 8.1 will continue to receive updates and run desktop applications no matter how you sign in to Windows. Switching to a local, private account is appealing to many users because it’s what they wanted in the first place.

Others want to get rid of their Microsoft account How To Recover A Hacked Microsoft Account & Prevent Future Hacks Microsoft accounts are used for OneDrive file storage, emails, Skype conversations, and even signing into Windows 8. You'll want to get that Microsoft account back if it's ever hacked. Here is how. Read More for privacy reasons. Having an account open with Microsoft means uploading another set of private data that must be guarded and monitored. Some users won’t find the risk work the reward. Getting rid of your account means you have one less aspect of your digital life to manage. Disabling and deleting is the sensible choice for users who don’t need or want the account’s benefits.


And what are the benefits, exactly? There are several. First, your settings will be synchronized How To Sync Your Windows 8 Settings Via The Cloud Logging into your Windows 8 computers with a Microsoft account enables access to the Windows Store and other Modern apps, but it's also used to sync Windows 8 settings with the Cloud. Your settings will... Read More between all Windows 8.1 PCs you use with your Microsoft account. That means your wallpaper, your network preferences, language settings and much more will be automatically configured for you. You’ll be able to use certain apps across multiple Microsoft platforms, like Windows Phone and even Xbox One. And you’ll be able to utilize sync features in Calendar, Explorer, People and other default apps. Finally, you need a Microsoft account to buy apps from the Windows Store.


You may not want to go local if you rely on these features, though I’ll address a few ways to emulate disabled features later in this article.

Enabling A Local Account

Switching from a Microsoft to a Local account isn’t difficult. You can do it within minutes if you follow these simple steps. Save any work you have open before starting. This process requires that you log out of your account, which means all open applications will be closed.

First, open up the Charms bar by hovering your cursor in the upper right hand corner or swiping in from the right of the screen Everything You Need To Know About Windows 8 Swipe Gestures On A Laptop With the introduction of Windows 8, a lot of brand-new touch-friendly features have been added to make the operating system enjoyable to use on touch-enabled devices. However, for typical laptops which only have touchpads for... Read More  (if using a touch device). Tap “Settings” then “Change PC Settings” at the bottom of the Charms bar, then hit “Accounts” in the menu that opens; click “Disconnect” to remove your account from the device. Alternatively, you can find this menu by doing a Windows Search for “Accounts” and then selecting “Add, delete and manage other accounts.” You should see a screen that looks like the one below.



You’ll be prompted to re-enter your Microsoft Account password, then you’ll be taken to a screen where you set up your local account. You’ll see fields for your username, password and password hint, but only the username must be filled out. Not entering anything in the password field means you won’t need to enter one to log in. A password can be added later if you don’t add one immediately.


Once you’re done with this you’ll see a final screen reminding you of what you’re doing and asking if you’d like to proceed. If you confirm you’ll automatically sign out of your Microsoft account. From this point forward the new, local account will be used as the default when booting your PC. However, remember that you are only disconnecting your account, not deleting it. Any information you already synced will remain in your account. You must log into your account via your browser and follow Microsoft’s instructions in order to completely get rid of the account and everything inside it.

If you have second thoughts after going local you can reverse the process by again opening the Accounts menu. You’ll see a “Connect to a Microsoft account” option where “Disconnect” was before. You can re-link to your Microsoft account at any time so long as you remember your password. Of course, you won’t be able to do this if you decided to also delete your account entirely.


Replacing Lost Features

As mentioned earlier, disconnecting your Microsoft account results in the loss of several features. Some, like the Windows Store Don't Be Fooled! 5 Tips To Avoid Fake Apps In The Windows Store The Windows Store has been spoiled by useless junkware and scams. Microsoft recently purged many fake apps, but the store still features questionable apps. We show you how not to get scammed. Read More  and the use of cross-platform applications, can’t be emulated with third party tools, but other features are fully or partially replaced.

Perhaps the most important feature lost buy going local is easy use of Microsoft OneDrive. You can mimic this, however, by downloading a free third party utility called syncDriver [No Longer Available]. This acts as a OneDrive client and lets you synchronize folders with the service while retaining a local account. The app does ask for your Microsoft account username and password, however, which may make security-savvy users nervous.


The obvious alternative is to simply not use OneDrive at all. You can instead use Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud or another service. Our latest round-up of cloud storage providers Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More  should help you choose. Of the services available, Google and Apple provide the most complete answers. Both of these companies can sync not just your files, but also your browser data, calendars, email and more. With that said, both come with downsides of their own. Those who go with Google have to deal with that company’s many privacy woes, while those who go with Apple must purchase an Apple device to use many features.


You can partially replicate the Microsoft account’s Windows settings synchronization feature with a utility like Laplink PCMover. This won’t actually sync your settings, of course, but it will let you move settings from one PC to the next, which for many users is the entire point. Unfortuantly the software is not free, so you’ll have to spend at least $40 to move your settings over. Users who remember Windows Easy Transfer may think to use that instead, but you can’t. You can only use it to import data from older Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs. It’s useless for transferring settings between Windows 8.1 machines.

Another option is to cheat the system by signing in with a Microsoft account, syncing your settings from an old computer, and then removing the account from both computers. This works, but make sure you login with your older PC (the one you want to transfer settings from) first. There’s no way to know when a computer has fully synchronized its settings with others using the account, either, so this can require trial and error.


The decision to use a connected account or take Windows 8.1 private isn’t critical for most users, but it’s sure to be important to anyone who prefers complete control over their computer and the information on it. Logging in with a connected account 5 Security Tips to Consider When Using a Microsoft Account You can't use much of the new Windows 8 user interface without a Microsoft account. The account you for logging into into your computer is now an online account. This raises security concerns. Read More can result in accidental over-sharing and creates a privacy concern for people who’d rather not have another account to keep tabs on. There’s no reason to use a connected account if you don’t care about the features it enables.

What do you think of Windows 8.1’s user account system? Do you like the benefits a Microsoft account provides, or do you feel a local account is the better way to go? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credits: Light switch/a> Via Shutterstock

Related topics: Online Privacy, User Account Control, Windows 8, Windows 8.1.

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  1. Al Szymanski
    January 29, 2015 at 3:48 am

    January 2015, this is no longer an option. You are never presented with a non MS account login. Just trying to get a Calendar up and the OS refuses to allow that without an MS account. Just plain wrongheadedness.

    • Anonymous
      June 19, 2015 at 9:04 am

      Hey Al, I know this is late, but there should be an option to "Sign in separately" or a similar phrase.

  2. Alex Dock
    October 17, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    @ Joan,
    I set up my Win. 8.1 as a local account from first install. Don't have any need for Windows App Store
    I use Skype. I don't have a Microsoft account.

  3. Joan
    September 30, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    I use Skype. I don't see any alternative but to have a Windows account if I want to use Skype.

  4. Lam La
    September 27, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Good hint to disconnect Microsoft Account.
    Best analysis and recommendation.

  5. RickB
    September 25, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    I figured it out. Before:
    "You’ll be prompted to re-enter your Microsoft Account password, then you’ll be taken to a screen where you set up your local account. "
    you should have:
    "Click on Disconnect"


  6. RickB
    September 25, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    "You should see a screen that looks like the one below."
    "You’ll be prompted to re-enter your Microsoft Account password, ..."

    How does seeing a screen cause you to be asked to enter a password?
    I think you missed a step. Still can't figure out how to do this.


    • Matt S
      September 29, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Thanks Rick, I will have that fixed.

  7. hotdoge3
    September 25, 2014 at 5:26 am

    hard to get a way from microsoft and Google

  8. Hazem E
    September 25, 2014 at 2:56 am

    I don't know why microsoft make onedrive only accessible via a microsof account

  9. Local Localhost
    September 25, 2014 at 1:40 am

    you can also type a fake email and password on set up


    and it will ask if you want a local account, just did this :D!

  10. kirsty
    September 24, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Just read underneath that you don't do tech support, sorry for bothering you all..! I'll try elsewhere.

  11. kirsty
    September 24, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Can someone help me please? Very confused.... on buying a new laptop I set up a microsoft account using a current email address. I have since set up a new email address as I had the old one for years and it was full of junk mail. When I use the mail app it automatically shows emails from the old address (I assume because I set the account with that). I want to keep the account but change the email thingy. I've tried to add the new address as an alias and made it primary but it makes no difference to the app (so changed it back)... help please?! I have also set up a local account alongside the microsoft one but have lots of apps missing and don't want the hassle of doing everything again! All I want is for my new email address to be on my microsoft account. Thanks for reading!

  12. Matt S
    September 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Oh, so I just admitted I don't have two-factor on my Microsoft account? I think I'll change that immediately.

  13. Davey126
    September 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    syncDriver doesn't appear to work on all Win 8.1 systems as was the case on my primary machine (x64 PRO) and reported by many others over the past few months. I was not able to immediately isolate the problem; hopefully the developers are working on a solution.

    • Matt S
      September 24, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      Have you tried it lately? It did work on the PC I used for this article.

    • Davey126
      September 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      Yup - quite recently. On the surface is appears syncDriver can not connect if two factor authentication is enabled on the underlying MS account - even when using an 'app password' generated for this purpose. I was able to connect to a secondary account that uses single factor authentication. I reported this to the support team and will post back if they identify a workable solution.

  14. chromesucks
    September 23, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    If you are installing Windows 8 from fresh, at the first initial start up, unplug your ethernet cable. It will allow you to create an local account.

    • ray
      September 24, 2014 at 7:33 am

      When installing windows 8 when asked to create a Microsoft account just click next. ignore . next page prompts for local accounts.

  15. Bobby
    September 23, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Since all your alternatives, google, box what ever require that you log-in, what is the benefit ?
    So why not just set up with an MS account then add a local account, and use the local account for everyday use. When you want it the OneDrive will be there, you would have access to the store, and if you need to replace or add a second machine, it will be far easier to do. I don't see any benefit to the hassle of not having the MS account, if your tinfoil is that tight you should use a pen and pencil, with a pad, and send mail not e-mail.

    • Applefag
      January 25, 2017 at 10:02 pm

      Booooooooo, Microsoft Shill, your tinfoil's not tight enough