How to Switch User Accounts on Windows 10

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Using multiple user accounts on Windows 10 is a convenient way to control access to files and applications. Switching between accounts preserves what you’re working on without closing anything. Find out a few ways to switch between accounts here.

How to Switch User Accounts

There are two ways you can change users in Windows 10. One fully signs out the current account and closes all of the running applications, exactly like what happens when you restart your PC. The other merely switches accounts — pushing the current user, and their applications, into the background.

Switching users has advantages — you can easily move between accounts without worrying about losing unsaved files or forgetting what you were doing because your programs closed. It does result in a larger demand on system resources though, especially RAM. On some PCs, the higher RAM requirements could be a problem.

Since signing out of a Windows 10 account terminates all of the running processes, be sure to save any files you’re working on before signing out. They may be lost otherwise.

RELATED: How to Create a New Local User Account in Windows 10

The Start Menu

First, click the Start button or hit the Windows key. Then click the icon that looks like a person — if you’ve set an account picture, it’ll be that instead of a generic icon. Another smaller menu will appear. Look for the user account you want to switch to and click it. You’ll immediately be taken to the login screen and prompted to enter that user’s password.

The Lock Screen

One way to switch users is to go through the lock screen. Hit Windows+L to access the lock screen immediately. Click in empty space, and the window should display the login screen. Then, on the bottom left of the login screen, click the desired user account.

RELATED: How to Customize the Lock Screen on Windows 8 or 10

Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete

Ctrl+Alt+Delete is most famous for being used to access the task manager. It also can be used to access a handful of other options, including a button to switch users. Hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete, and the second option on the list will be “Switch user.” Click it, and you’ll be taken to the login screen.

Press Alt+F4

You can also switch users by hitting Alt+F4. First, click an empty space on your desktop. Then hit Alt+F4.

Warning: If you don’t first select empty space on your desktop, whatever application is in focus will be instantly closed.

Select “Switch User”. Then, at the bottom, click “Ok.” You’ll be at the login screen; click the user account you want, and then enter the password.

The Command Prompt

There is a command to switch user accounts in Windows, but only in the Windows 10 Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions. It won’t work on Windows 10 Home.

Launch Command Prompt by clicking the Start button, type “Command prompt” or “cmd” into the search bar, and then hit Enter. You could also click “Open.”

Type tsdiscon in the Command Prompt, and you’ll be returned to the login screen.

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If you’re not running Windows 10 Pro or higher, but you really want to change which account you’re logged in to using the Command Prompt, you can log out instead.

Note: Remember, logging out is different from switching users. Logging out will close all of your applications.

Type shutdown /l in Command Prompt, and then hit Enter. You will be fully logged out. Select the desired account and enter the password.

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Windows includes a variety of user account controls that makes switching accounts worthwhile on a shared PC. You can customize the appearance of the desktop and icons, restrict access to certain files and applications (including the firewall), or engage parental controls, like screen time limits.