Computer Performance, Microsoft Windows 8

Windows 8 AutoAdminLogon

Windows 8 Auto Logon Registry Hack

There are times when in it's a pain having to type a password in order to logon to your Windows 8 machine.  AutoAdminLogon is idea for situations where you are operating in a secure environment, or where you are testing endless reboots and want auto login.  Althought the techique is very different, the principle is the same as having a website remember your username and password.

Topics for Windows 8 Auto Logon Registry Hack

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Preparation for AutoAdminLogon Registry Settings

  1. Username - The name you would normally type in the logon box.  It does NOT have to be Administrator.
  2. Password - OK this is the problem, you are going to expose the password in plain text, at least to the depths of the registry.
  3. DefaultDomainName - For instances where you have Active Directory.

Instructions to Configure Auto Logon with Regedit

  1. Launch Regedit. (See more details on starting regedit)
  2. Navigate to:
    HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\winlogon
    Set: AutoAdminLogon = 1 (one means automatic, zero means off, normal logon.)Regedit Auto Logon Windows 8
  3. Quick method: Use Regedit's 'Find': AutoAdminLogon.
  4. Crucial Point you need to set the UserName's password.
  5. Create a new String Value called DefaultPassword
    Set: DefaultPassword = "WhatPwd".
  6. Check for the existence of a REG_SZ called DefaultUserName.  The value should reflect the user you are going to logon automatically.  If this value does not exist, then right-click in the right pane, New, REG_SZ, name it, DefaultUserName.  Set the string value to the required UserName, for example GuyT or Administrator.
  7. Optional Item: If your Windows 8 Machine has joined a domain, then create a String Value called DefaultDomainName. 
    Set: DefaultDomainName = "YourDomain"

Here is a summary of the 4 registry REG_SZ values to enable Auto Logon

AutoAdminLogon = "1" Enabled  (Zero would mean turn off)
DefaultUserName = "Guyt" (Your logon username)
DefaultPassword = "Passw0rd" (Remember this or change)
DefaultDomainName = "dom.com".  (Only needed if this computer has joined a domain)

Disable Auto Logon in Registry

It's easy to disable the auto login with regedit; you just need to find, then change AutoAdminLogon from 1 to zero.  You can leave the other settings, especially if you change your mind later!

Learning Points For Windows 8 AutoAdminLogon

  • After you launch regedit, do you find AutoAdminLogon in HKCU** or HKLM?
    Answer: HKLM
  • For AutoAdminLogon do you add a REG_SZ key, or modify an existing value? 
    Answer: Modify the value of 0 (Disabled) --> 1 (Enabled).
  • Is AutoAdminLogon a String Value or a DWORD?
    Answer: These types are all REG_SZ (String values)
  • Do you need to Restart, or merely Logoff / Logon?
    Answer: Reboot the machine
  • Extra Information: To enable Auto Logon with regedit you also need to create a REG_SZ called, DefaultPassword, and possibly another called DefaultDomainName.
  • Should you ever need to breakout or bypass AutoAdminLogon, then hold down the Shift key as Windows 8 initializes, if you are quick enough you get the normal logon box.  The benefit of holding down the shift key is that you can logon as a different user.

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Problems With AutoAdminLogon

  • The number one reason for this registry hack failing is that you forget to add DefaultPassword.   I know exposing the password in the registry is insecure, but it's the only way to get AutoAdminLogon to work.  If you leave DefaultPassword's value blank than Windows 8 sets AutoAdminLogon = 0.
  • DefaultDomainName - Check the name if you really are in a domain and a Workgroup / Homegroup.

See more on Microsoft's AutoAdminLogon

AutoLogonCount

The AutoLogonCount registry value is mainly used during setup.  The idea is for a machine to automatically reboot during installation for a set number of times, then revert to a normal logon box.

Each time the computer is restarted AutoAdminLogon kicks-in and the administrator (defined UserName) is logged on automatically, furthermore, the AutoLogonCount value is decremented by one until the count reaches zero.  Once its value reaches zero, the AutoLogonCount value under the Winlogon key is removed.

AutoLogonCount Windows 8

  1. Launch Regedit.
  2. Navigate to:
    HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\winlogon
    Create a Reg_DWORD: AutoLogonCount
  3. Set the value, for example 3.

See also Windows 8 Disable Reveal Password »

Auto Logon for Windows 8 Home EditionsAuto Login Windows 8 Registry Home Edition

I have been using AutoAdminLogon since NT 3.5, however, in Windows 8 Home editions there is a simpler, but boring alternative, namely to tick: 'Users must enter a user name and password'.

Unlike Vista, in Windows 8 you need to launch a native, but hidden applet called NetPlwiz.  Once the User Accounts interface appears select the user who you want Auto Logon, now remove the tick in the checkbox.
'Users must enter a user name and password'. 

Click 'OK'

All you need to do next is type the required password in the, 'Automatically Log On' dialog box.  See screenshot.  Once you restart Windows 8, it will logon that user automatically.

Please review the logic of what you are ticking.  Also, when you set a registry value to one or zero, read the value carefully.  Half of all people who write and say 'Guy that registry hack did not work', have not understood the logic, double negatives are a particularly confusing.

If you are going to try this configuration, please note: I did not find this setting in a machine which had joined an Active Directory domain.

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A Real-life Story Starring AutoAdminLogon

One of Guy's computing laws states: 'The more security that you have, then the more work there will be'.  This law particularly applies in the case of complex passwords, it's never easy to remember a combination of uppercase, lowercase, number and squiggles (non-alphanumeric characters).

Let me give you an example of why I like the registry setting AutoAdminLogon, I was training a new Windows 8 course containing two delegates from hell.  The other ingredient was a new technician, who installed the default American keyboard layout; despite the fact the course was in Worcester England, where naturally the keyboard hardware had the UK layout.

The course started with the delegates logging on to their Windows 8 machines as Administrator with the password of P@ssw0rd.  Have you guessed the problem?  The @ was not at the place on the keyboard where the delegates and I expected, namely above the comma.  Thanks to the USA / UK mixed setup, the @ was above the numeric 2.

Most of the first session was spent getting the 10 delegates just to logon.  For the second exercise, they had to join a domain - that took the rest of the morning because after the restart they had to grapple with the complex password - again.

Over lunchtime I edited the registry, and set AutoAdminLogon to login without delegate input.  You can see above how I achieved this sanity preserver in the: Instructions for Setting AutoAdminLogon.

Creating a .Reg File

Actually, for my solution to work, I needed the same settings on all 10 machines.  What I did was get AutoAdminLogon working on the instructor machine, then I exported the HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\winlogon branch of the registry to a .reg file.  From a network share, I imported this .reg file to each of the delegates machines.  I had no more problems with delegates logging on after that.  Training is a great place to try these naughty but nice tricks.  Another application of this auto login technique is for test machines not connected to a production network. 

See another example AutoAdminLogon .reg file »

Summary of Windows 8 Auto Logon Registry Hack

Thanks to regedit, Auto Logon can be enabled so that you can logon automatically without having to enter a password.  Such configurations are most useful for testing or training course.  You could also justify editing the registry, and setting AutoAdminLogon on a private machine in a room that is physically secure.

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Microsoft Windows 8 Registry Topics

Windows 8 Overview  • Windows 8 Change Registered Owner  • Display Windows 7 Desktop

Windows 8 Regedit  • Windows 8 Registry Hacks  • Windows 8 AutoAdminLogon Registry Setting

Win 8 Registry Examples  • Windows 8 PaintDesktopVersion  • Windows 8 ScreenSaverGracePeriod

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