Applies to

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


All about accounts: FAQ

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 separate user accounts for each person. That way, each person gets their own preferences and settings and can access their own files and apps. If you have kids, you can also set up a child's account with extra security measures so that 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 are 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.

What is Microsoft account?

A Microsoft account is an email address and password that you use to sign into Windows. When you sign into your Surface with a Microsoft account, your Surface is connected to the cloud, and many of the settings, preferences, and apps associated with your account stay up to date and in sync.

If you’ve used Microsoft services in the past-like Xbox, Hotmail, Outlook.com, OneDrive (formerly called SkyDrive), Messenger, Skype, or Windows Phone-you already have a Microsoft account (it's the email address you use to sign in). If you can't remember the email address you used with those services, that's okay-you can easily sign up for a new, free email address.

What types of accounts can I use to sign in?

When you first set up your Surface, you’ll be asked for the account you will use to sign in. You have these options:

A new or existing Microsoft account

For the best experience, we recommend using a Microsoft account--an email address and password. You can use any email address you choose, or get a new email address. (For example, you can use an Outlook.com, Gmail, or Yahoo! address for your Microsoft account.)

A local account

This type of account gives you easy access to what’s on your Surface, but nothing more. When you want to use services like OneDrive (formerly called SkyDrive), Skype, or social media you’ll need to sign on to each one, each time.

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

A domain account

If you work for an organization that has assigned you a username in a network domain, you can use that account to sign in to your Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2. Check with your organization’s IT department on how to set this up.

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

How can I see what kind of account I’m using?

If you’ve already created an account, or one was created for you, here’s how to see what type of account you have:

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

Why should I use a Microsoft account?

When you sign in with a Microsoft account, your Surface is connected to the cloud. That means that:

  • Your friends’ contact info stays up to date from your Outlook, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other accounts.
  • You can keep your color scheme, browser favorites, 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're not using a Microsoft account, that's okay-you can set up a Microsoft account at any time.

How can I change my password, picture, or 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 to provide your account password. If you don’t have a password, you can create one here.

What can I do with an Administrator account?

The first user account created during Surface setup is an administrator account. With an administrator account, you can change settings, install apps, and create and remove user accounts. If you share your Surface with other people, you can create separate user accounts for each person.

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, and 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 and 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, and 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), and then tap or click Local account. You can connect the local account to a Microsoft account later.
Step 7:Follow the prompts to set up the account.

There are three types of user accounts. Each type gives the user a different level of control over Surface:

  • Administrator account. Provides the most control. An administrator can change settings, install apps, and create and remove user accounts.
  • Standard user account. With a standard account, users can create and change their own files, and change their personal settings like passwords and the Start screen.
  • Child account. A child account is like a standard account, but with restrictions that can be set to limit the games, apps, and websites kids can use. You can also monitor your kids' activity and time on Surface. See Keep your kids safer on the PC for more info.
You can change account levels after you set up an account. To learn how, see Can I change the type of account another user has on my Surface?, below.

How do I add 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, and then tap or click Other accounts.
Step 5: Tap or click Add an account, and 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, and 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, and 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, and 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.

Can I change the type of account another user has on my Surface?

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, and 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.

How do I remove an account?

If you delete a user 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. To remove a use 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, and 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.


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