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Windows 10 basics: how to change your sign-in settings

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When you buy a new Windows 10 computer, out of the box, it will default to having you enter your Outlook or Microsoft account password every time you sign in. This can be a hassle, especially if you have a long, secure, and complicated password.

Thankfully, Windows has several other ways you can sign in to your laptop that are a little simpler. We’ll walk you through how to adjust your settings and opt into signing in using a PIN, your fingerprint, or picture password. (Facial recognition is also available, but only on specific Windows 10 systems.) We’ll also show you how to remove your password altogether (although, to keep your device secure, we recommend that you go with one of the options above rather than eliminating any kind of sign-in).

Windows 10 also gives you the option to use a physical security key (usually a USB key) to sign in, but you’ll have to purchase that key separately. Here are the methods you can use to sign in without any additional equipment.

To access your sign-in settings:

  • Click on the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner of your screen to open up the Start menu
  • Click the cog icon to open settings
  • Click “Accounts”

Windows Settings menu

Click on “Accounts” in your Windows Settings menu.

  • Click “Sign-in options”

Sign-in options menu

Under “Sign-in options,” you’ll see several different methods for signing in, including using your fingerprint, a PIN, or a picture password.

  • Here, you can adjust how to sign in to your device. You can add a sign-on method by clicking on the option and then “Add.” And you can disable any of these options by clicking on the option and then “Remove.” You may be prompted to enter your Microsoft account password in order to remove an option.
  • You can also adjust when your device asks you to sign in again after you’ve been idle. Under “Require sign-in,” you can select a range of options, from every time the system has gone dark to if it’s been dark for 15 minutes. You can also select “Never.”

Require sign-in dropdown options

Using the drop-down options, you can adjust how long your device waits until asking you to sign in again.

To set up a PIN:

  • Click “Windows Hello PIN”
  • Click “Add”
  • A window titled “Create a PIN” will open up. Click “Next.”

“Create a PIN” window

Click “Next” to start setting up your PIN.

  • You’ll then be asked to enter your Microsoft password. Enter it in, and click “Sign in.”
  • Choose a PIN and enter it in both boxes. The default requirement for the PIN is that it only contains numbers. If you want to use letters and symbols as well, you can check the box in the bottom of the window.

Set up a PIN window

Type your PIN into both fields to set it up.

  • You can change your PIN later by clicking on “Windows Hello PIN” then “Change.” Enter your old PIN and then your new PIN twice.

Change your PIN window

You’ll have to enter your old PIN before entering and confirming your new PIN.

To use your fingerprint to sign in:

  • Click “Windows Hello Fingerprint”
  • Click “Set up”
  • Windows Hello will open up. Click “Get started.”

Windows Hello window

You can use Windows Hello to set up your fingerprint as a sign-in method.

  • If you’ve already set up your PIN, you’ll be prompted to enter it in here
  • Next, you’ll be asked to your raise your finger and place it on the fingerprint scanner repeatedly

Fingerprint sensor instructions

You will need to lower and raise your finger on the sensor repeatedly so it can capture your fingerprint.

An image of a fingerprint, which is highlighted in blue as the fingerprint is captured.

As you raise and lower your finger, this graphic will show you how much of your fingerprint has been captured.

  • Then, you’ll be asked to do the same, angling your finger differently each time

More instructions for capturing your fingerprint

Next, you’ll need to shift the angle as you raise and lower your finger.

  • If you haven’t done so already, you’ll then be asked to choose a PIN as a backup. Click “Set up PIN” to continue.

Instructions asking to set up a PIN as a backup

Windows will recommend you set up a PIN as a backup.

To set up a Picture Password:

Microsoft’s picture password option allows you to use a sequence of gestures paired with a picture to sign in. Instead of using a PIN or password, you’ll have to draw on a picture.

  • Click on “Picture Password” in “Sign-in settings”
  • Click “Add”
  • You’ll be taken to the picture password setup page and asked to enter your Microsoft account password into a pop-up window
  • Click “Choose picture”

Picture password welcome screen

Click on “Choose picture” to begin setting up your picture password.

  • A window will open, and you’ll be able to browse through your photos. Select a picture, and then click “Open.”
  • Click “Use this picture” to proceed or “Choose new picture” to select a different picture

Picture password setup page for choosing an image

If you’re happy with that picture, click “Use this picture” to continue.

  • You’ll then be asked to draw three gestures — lines, circles, and taps — on the image. To sign in, you’ll have to repeat the gestures in the same order and in the same position on the image.

Picture password setup page for choosing gestures

The three gestures you draw directly on the image will serve as your picture password.

  • Then you’ll have to confirm your picture password by doing those same three gestures again. If you can’t remember, click “Start over.”
  • Click “Finish” on the next screen to complete setup.

Picture password setup completion page

You’ve finished setting up your picture password.

To remove a password altogether:

Typing in your password can be a hassle, which is why there are alternative sign-in methods. If you want to go an extra step further, you can remove your password altogether. (Of course, disabling your password altogether is a security risk — using at least a simple PIN is a better move.)

  • Click the Windows Start button
  • Search for and open “netplwiz”

Start menu results for “netplwiz”

Open up “netplwiz” to disable your password.

  • A window will open. Uncheck the box next to “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer.”

User Accounts window

Here, you can remove the password requirement.

  • Then click “Apply”
  • Enter your password twice in the pop-up window and click “OK”

Automatically sign-in window

You will need to enter your password to confirm that you want to disable your password.

The changes will go into effect after you restart your device.

To enable your password again:

  • Open up “netplwiz”
  • Check the box next to “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer”
  • Then click “Apply”
  • Click “OK”

Microsoft

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra may try to be the Xbox Phone

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Samsung’s Note 20 Ultra, which is expected to launch on August 5th at the next Samsung Unpacked event, may be highly optimized to stream Xbox games over xCloud, according to a new report from WinFuture.

While that might come as a surprise, Samsung and Microsoft have actually gotten pretty cozy over the past year. Last August, at the last Galaxy Note launch event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella appeared onstage to recognize an increased partnership between the two companies, and the two companies announced that Samsung would preinstall Microsoft’s Your Phone app, Office apps, LinkedIn, and OneDrive on the Galaxy Note 10.

The two companies also announced they would be partnering on a cloud-based game streaming service in February. A Microsoft-made game streaming service would also fill a hole for Samsung, which shut down its own PC-to-phone game streaming service in March. More than 90 games will apparently be available to stream on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra over xCloud, according to WinFuture.

WinFuture’s report also included details about Samsung’s new flagship Note. The phone is expected to have a 6.9-inch screen with a 3200 x 1440 resolution, and will apparently be capable of a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz, similar to the Galaxy S20 Ultra. The phone may also be the first to have Corning’s Gorilla Glass 7.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is expected to have three cameras on a huge camera bump — which we’ve seen on previous leaks of the phone — and WinFuture mostly corroborates other rumors about those cameras. WinFuture says the phone will have a 108 megapixel main camera, a 12 megapixel ultrawide camera, and a 12 megapixel periscope lens (though leaker Ice Universe reported it would be 13 megapixels) that can magnify up to 50X. That zoom would a step down from the Samsung S20 Ultra’s hyped 100X zoom, but that turned out to be gimmicky in real-world use, so perhaps the reduced zoom will result in better photos. And the hole-punch front camera is 10 megapixels, reports WinFuture.

The S Pen stylus in the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra may only have a latency of nine milliseconds, according to WinFuture. And YouTuber Jimmy Is Promo revealed that the Note 20 Ultra could have a new “pointer” mode that will let you use an on-screen cursor by pointing the S Pen at the phone, as shown in a video posted earlier this month.

Rounding out the specs, WinFuture reports the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra will work on 5G networks, comes with either 256 or 512 GB of storage that can be expanded via microSD, and has 12GB of RAM, Wi-Fi 6, and a 4,500mAh battery.

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Mixer is getting a big Fortnite tournament series hosted by Ninja

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Microsoft’s Mixer streaming platform is making a bigger splash in the live event game with a new tournament series starting this week featuring Fortnite player Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Called Ninja Battles Featuring Fortnite, the weekly tournament series will take place starting this week on May 28th and lasting every Thursday through July, reports Deadline.

The event will be hosted on Ninja’s Mixer channel, which is the platform’s most popular channel since the streamer left Twitch last August to join Microsoft’s competitor as part of a lucrative multiyear streaming deal. Ninja’s high-profile departure, orchestrated in part by his management team at the talent agency Loaded, inspired a wave of new contracts spanning the entire live-streaming ecosystem. In the months after Ninja left Twitch, several popular gaming entertainers followed him and signed new deals with other streaming platforms.

Just in the last few months alone, Twitch and YouTube have locked down popular creators like Imane “Pokimane” Anys and YouTube megastar Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg to their respective platforms.

Ninja Battles Featuring Fortnite will feature $400,000 in prize money and bring together 60 Fortnite pros and other big names in the Twitch and broader live-streaming world, including Nicholas “Nick Eh 30” Amyoony, Fortnite World Cup champion Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, and Faze Clan streamers Nate Hill and Soleil “Ewok” Wheeler. Everyone will be streaming from the comfort of their home during the pandemic.

Ninja will of course be a centerpiece of the event, which is being co-produced by Ninja himself and his management team Loaded. He’ll participate in the competitions, while popular community members “BallaTW” and “MonsterDface” will commentate. Notably, Ninja was the first streamer to host a live and in-person Fortnite tournament in early 2018, just months after the game first came out and long before developer Epic Games formed an official esports circuit for the title.

“I joined Mixer to push boundaries, create different types of streaming content and interact with fans in new ways,” Ninja said in a statement. “Ninja Battles brings a new kind of gameplay to the community. I am excited to share this competitive experience with my fans as well as have my fellow gamers and friends participate.”

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Cortana now lets you schedule meetings by voice inside Outlook

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Microsoft is adding new abilities to Outlook’s “Play My Emails” feature, allowing you to use voice control to organize your emails and day-to-day schedule. The company originally released Play My Emails for Outlook last November, letting Microsoft’s AI assistant Cortana read emails out loud to users.

With the new features, Cortana will allow you to accept or decline meetings as well as set up a meeting with someone. If someone emails you regarding important or time-sensitive information, it will suggest setting a meeting during the next available 30-minute time slot on your calendar. Cortana will also give you an option to view your schedule and select a time to set up a meeting, and it’ll allow you to add emails to your task list.

Use Cortana to join a Microsoft Teams meeting, too.
Image: Microsoft

The new update will also include support for the recently released Microsoft Surface Earbuds, allowing owners to use Outlook voice commands and navigate their emails by swiping back and forth on the surface of the earbuds. Additionally, Cortana will soon allow you to quickly join a Microsoft Teams meeting if you’re behind on your schedule, so you can join the meeting within a minute before it’s slated to start or join once it’s in progress.

Microsoft is releasing this feature first on iOS devices, though Android support is slated to roll out “in the coming weeks,” according to the company.

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