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How do I reset my Windows Password? - fixedByVonnie

How do I reset my Windows Password?

Are you having one of those days?

  • You left the house without your wallet
  • Took your smartphone to the bathroom and accidentally toilet baptized it (my wife did this; surprisingly her iPhone 4S still works)
  • Forgot to take the size sticker off your new pants

Yes, and now your co-workers are snickering about you pants, broken phone and general lack of responsibility.  And to top it off: you’ve exacerbated things by forgetting your Windows password.

You’ve tried all your common (and super insecure) passwords:

  • 12345678
  • qwerty
  • baseball
  • abc123
  • letmein

You tried your mothers maiden name, the name of your first cat, the name of that famous big cat at the circus and every freggin’ cat you can think of.  But now you’re trying to figure out which of your 30 passwords belong to your Windows account.

Heck, you’ve got one for your Facebook account, another for your online bank and a dozen others. How can anyone reasonably expect you to keep track of it all?

Don’t feel too bad because you’re not alone.  According to Microsoft researchers Dinei Florencio and Cormac Herley, the average user has 7 passwords shared across 4 different sites and has about 25 accounts that require passwords.

Florencio and Herley’s 127 page report on our password proclivities doesn’t make for light Sunday reading; however, it divulges the stark truth that people have too many passwords and most of them are weak.

That being said, today I need to show you how to reset your Windows password without losing your mind.

You need two things:

  1. A copy of the Windows 7 installation disk
  2. Dexterity with the command line

Let’s get too it:

Reboot your computer with the Windows 7 disk in the tray and press the spacebar to boot from the DVD

Windows 7 Press any key to boot from CD or DVD

Click the Next button in the bottom right corner of the Install Windows screen

Install Windows 7

And click the Repair your computer link in the lower left corner of the window.

Windows 7 Repair your computer

The System Recovery Options screen will appear.  Just click Next, we’re not going to recover anything we just need to get to the Command Prompt.

Windows 7 System Recovery Options

That elusive command prompt is hiding at the bottom of list.  Go ahead and click it to open the great black void.

Windows 7 System Recovery Options Command Prompt

Click through to the command prompt then enter this amorphous command:

copy c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe c:\

sethc is the Windows High Contract Invocation.  If that sounds like techno jargon you can see what it does by pressing these three keys concurrently from your desktop:

Left Alt Key + the Left Shift Button and the PrtSc key

Try it the next time your in the Windows desktop.

The sethc.exe process is responsible for accessibility options.  For example, by default pressing the Shift key five consecutive times invokes the StickyKeys feature.  It’s used to reduce repetitive strain injuries and helps people with physical disabilities.

Today, we’re going to hack sethc so we can use it to get back into your computer.  That abstruse command you typed before simply made a backup the sethc.exe file and saved it to your C:\ drive root.

My Windows folder is on the D drive (not C drive) so I adjusted the command as seen in the image below

Windows 7 Backup sethc.exe

Now we need to overwrite the sethc.exe command with the command prompt application so that when you invoke StickyKeys the command prompt opens.

Type this and enter Yes

copy c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe

Windows 7 Overwrite sethc.exe

Now close the command prompt window and click the Restart button in the lower right corner of the screen.

Now here’s the trick, remove the Windows DVD then when your computer boots up to the login screen press the right Shift button 5 times in rapid succession to activate the command prompt.

Windows 7 Sticky Keys Sethc hack

If it doesn’t open for you then click the blue little compass thing in the lower left corner of the login screen and put a check mark in the StickyKeys option.  Retry the 5 button tap trick and the command prompt will magically pop up.

Windows 7 Ease of Access

Now to reset your login password we can use the trusty net user command.

Type this:

net user Vonnie dillaisthebesthiphopproducer

This reset my user account to this password: dillaisthebesthiphopproducer.

Windows 7 Net User Password Reset Trick

That’s it!

If this helped you please let me know in the comments.


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Posted in Windows, Windows 7 Tagged with: ,