Applies to

Surface RT, Surface 2, Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro 3, Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1.


All about accounts

The account you use to sign in on your Surface stores your settings, preferences, and more. For the best experience, use a Microsoft account to sign in. That gives you seamless access to your Windows Store apps, social media, and backs up your files and photos in the cloud.


If you share your Surface with other people, it's a good idea to create an account for each person. That way, each person gets their own preferences and settings and can access their own files and apps. Having your own account means your files are hidden from others unless you choose to share them.

If you have kids, you can set up a child's account with extra security measures, so your kids see only what you want them to see while using Surface.

Notes
  • If you’ve forgotten the password for signing into your Surface, see I forgot my password.
  • If you’re using mobile broadband to connect to the Internet and have billing, data plan, or other questions related to your mobile broadband account, contact your mobile operator.

First account on your new Surface

When you set up your Surface, an account is created for you based on information you supply. From this account, you can create, modify or remove other accounts on your Surface.

Microsoft account or local account?

When you set up your Surface, or while you’re setting up an account for someone else, you choose whether you want the account to be a Microsoft account or a local account. Your best bet is to use a Microsoft account.

Work and play more easily with a Microsoft account

A Microsoft account is an email address and password that you use to sign into Windows. If you’ve used Microsoft services in the past-like Xbox, Hotmail, Outlook.com, OneDrive, Messenger, Skype, or Windows Phone-you already have a Microsoft account (it's the email address you use to sign in). When you sign into your Surface with a Microsoft account and have an internet connection:

  • Your friends’ contact information stays up to date from your Outlook, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other accounts.
  • You can keep your colour scheme, browser favourites, apps and other personal settings in sync with any other PC you have running Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 using your Microsoft account.
  • You can get to the documents, photos, and other files you create from any PC, because they are saved to your OneDrive by default. In Windows 8.1, OneDrive is like a local folder that follows you wherever you sign in with your Microsoft account.
  • You can shop for apps in the Windows Store. The Store uses your account to keep track of the apps you’ve bought, so you can download, update and reinstall them whenever you need to. Want to add or change a payment option from your Microsoft account? See Edit payment method for the Windows Store and view billing history for more info.
  • If you forget the password for a Microsoft account, you can reset your password online.

If you’re not sure whether you have a Microsoft account, or you can't remember the email address you used with those services, you can easily sign up for a new, free email address.

Local accounts and domain accounts

A local account is an account created just on your Surface. If you’re using a local account, you’ll need to sign on to services like OneDrive, Skype, Windows Store or social media each time you want to access them. If you forget the password for your local account, we can’t help you access your files.

To get benefits of using a Microsoft account even when you sign in with the local account, you can connect a Microsoft to your local account.

If you work for an organisation that has assigned you a username in a network domain, you can use that account to sign in to your Surface Pro. Check with your organisation’s IT department on how to set this up.

Note

You can't join or sign into a network domain using Surface RT or Surface 2.

You can connect a Microsoft account to the domain account, to get benefits of using a Microsoft account even when you sign in with the domain account.

See which kind of account you’re using

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click Change PC settings.
Step 3: 

Tap or click Accounts.

Info about your account appears under your name:

  • If you see an email address, then you’re using a Microsoft account.
  • If you see Local account, your account is just on your Surface (not connected to the cloud). To switch to a Microsoft account, tap or click Connect your Microsoft account.
  • If a you see a network domain (domain name\username), then you’re using a domain account, such as an account for your workplace. To connect your Microsoft account to your domain account, tap or click Connect your Microsoft account. See Connect your Microsoft account to your domain account to learn how.

Change your password, picture and other account settings

You can change your password, add or change the picture for your account, and connect to or disconnect from a Microsoft account. Here’s how:

Step 1:  From the Start screen, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click Change PC settings.
Step 3:  Tap or click Accounts.
Step 4

Next you can change settings on your account:

  • Tap or click Your account.
    You can you can add or create an account picture, connect or disconnect from a Microsoft account, and access other account settings online.
  • Tap or click Sign in options.
    You can change your password, create a picture password or PIN, and choose whether a password is required when waking Surface from sleep. To make these changes, you’ll need your account password. If you don’t have a password, you can create one here.

Account types: standard, administrator and child

Each account is assigned an account type that determines what can be done using that account. These account types can be assigned to any Microsoft or local account:

  • Administrator. While you’re signed in with an administrator account, you can create or remove other accounts, and you can set their account types. With an administrator account, you can install apps.

    The first account on your Surface is always an administrator account. To create a new administrator account, you need to first create the new account, then edit it to make it an administrator account.

  • Standard. People using a Standard account can create and edit files and personalise their settings, but they can’t create, change or remove any other accounts. They may not be able to install some apps. When you create a new account, it’s a standard account unless you set it up as a Child account.

  • Child. Child accounts are controlled by the Family Safety settings you apply to the account. See Keep your kids safer on the PC to learn how to turn on Family Safety features that are built into Windows.

See which account type you are using

Step 1:  From the Start screen, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click Change PC settings.
Step 3: 

Tap or click Accounts.

  • If you see Other accounts in the left pane, you have an administrator account.
  • Otherwise, you have a standard or child account.

If you have a child account, the message “This account is monitored by Family Safety” appears briefly next to your name on the Start screen when you first sign in. To see what restrictions you have on the child account:

Step 1:  Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the bottom-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, then click Settings.)
Step 2:  Tap or click Change PC Settings, then tap or click Control Panel.
Step 3: 

Tap or click User Accounts and Family Safety, then under Family Safety tap or click View Family settings for your account.

If Family Safety is turned on, you have a child account. On this page you can also see what restrictions you have, and whether your activity on the PC is being collected.

How do I add an account to my Surface?

Step 1:  Sign in with an administrator account.
Step 2:  From the Start screen, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings.)
Step 3:  Tap or click Change PC settings.
Step 4:  Tap or click Accounts, then tap or click Other accounts.
Step 5:  Tap or click Add an account,
Step 6: 

Next, do one of the following:

  • If the new account will sign in using an existing Microsoft account email address, enter it, then tap or click Next.
  • If the new account will sign in using a new Microsoft account email address, tap or click Sign up for a new email address, enter the requested info, then tap or click Next.
  • If the new account will sign in without a Microsoft account, tap or click Sign in without a Microsoft account (not recommended), then tap or click Local account. You can connect the local account to a Microsoft account later.
  • If the new account will be a child’s account, tap or click Add a child’s account.
Step 7:  Follow the prompts to set up the account.

You can change account levels after you set up an account. To learn how, see Change another user’s account type, below.

How to create a child account

Step 1:  Sign in with an administrator account.
Step 2:  From the Start screen, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings.)
Step 3:  Tap or click Change PC settings.
Step 4:  Tap or click Accounts, then tap or click Other accounts.
Step 5:  Tap or click Add an account, then tap or click Add a child’s account.
Step 6: 

Next, do one of the following:

  • If you want to use the child's existing Microsoft account email address, enter the child's email address, then click Next.
  • If you want to create a new email address for the child, tap or click Sign up for a new email address, enter the requested info, then tap or click Next.
  • If you don't want the child to use an email address, tap or click Add a child’s account without email, enter the requested info, then tap or click Next.
Step 7:  Follow the prompts to set up the account.

If you want to limit your child's computer time or limit the apps, websites and games your child can access, you can. See Keep your kids safer on the PC to learn how to turn on Family Safety features that are built into Windows.

Change another user’s account type

With an administrator account, you can change the account type of someone else who uses your Surface. You can make another person's account an administrator account, standard user or child account. Here's how:

Step 1:  Sign in with an administrator account.
Step 2:  From the Start screen, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings.)
Step 3:  Tap or click Change PC settings.
Step 4:  Tap or click Accounts, then tap or click Other accounts.
Step 5:  Tap or click the account you want to change, then tap or click Edit.
Step 6:  Choose the Account type from the dropdown list.

Remove an account

If you delete an account, all the settings, files and data will be lost unless they have been backed up or saved to another location. See Back up photos, documents, and more for more info.

Notes
  • You can’t remove the account you’re currently using.
  • You can only remove an account if you’re currently signed in with an administrator account.
    This means that if you want to remove an administrator account, there must be at least one other administrator account that you can use to do so.

To remove an account:

Step 1:  Sign in with an administrator account.
Step 2:  From the Start screen, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Settings.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings.)
Step 3:  Tap or click Change PC settings.
Step 4:  Tap or click Accounts, then tap or click Other accounts.
Step 5:  Tap or click the account you want to change, then tap or click Remove.
Step 6:  Tap or click Delete account and data.