While Microsoft aggressively pushes online accounts to first-time Windows users, there are workarounds that allow you to use a local account as your primary account. From installation through updating your Windows device, a local account can help you accomplish pretty much anything an online account does. Follow the guide below to use Windows 11 (or Windows 10) without a Microsoft account.
What Is a Windows 11/10 Local Account?
When installing Windows 11/10 for the first time, you’re asked to create a Microsoft Administrator account for the root user. It has the highest privileges of all other accounts on your device and directly syncs with Microsoft servers as soon as you connect to the Internet.
A local account is very different as it is offline and disconnected from Microsoft’s servers. As the name suggests, a local user account is specific to the PC where it is created. You can always set up a Microsoft account inside a local account username.
Benefits of a Local Account
- Greater privacy: the local account is consigned to your PC and not discoverable easily by external servers. This gives you more privacy and control.
- Does not consume additional resources: with fewer apps and no worries of Microsoft syncing, a local account feels cozy and comfortable to use. A Windows kiosk mode is a great example of local accounts in use.
- Easy to switch: all it takes is a Win + L key combination to switch between your Administrator and local account logins.
- Device updates available: the same device update benefits are available as a Microsoft account-enabled PC.
Disadvantages of a Local Account
- Can’t sync devices: you can no longer sync your Windows device with other PCs.
- Microsoft Store is off-limits: a local account is not compatible with the Microsoft Store, as you need a Microsoft account to download the apps. But even with a local account login, you can install anything on your PC from the Internet.
- You will need a Microsoft account at some point: this is obvious, but if you’re a heavy user of a local account, at some point you will need a Microsoft account to use the features and updates that show dependence.
Though by default a local account is secondary to an online Microsoft account, with a few adjustments you can replace it as your main Administrator account. Our steps below only have Windows 11 screenshots but all instructions are compatible with Windows 10.
How to Enable a Local Account During Windows Installation
If you’re connected to the Internet, Microsoft discourages you from setting up a local account as your root user. That’s why one of the workarounds is to disconnect the Internet before installation.
For the default local account installation, you will need a USB drive to follow the installation steps for a media creation tool.
- Download the Windows 11 installation media from the official source. If you want to install Windows 10, use this link.
- Click the downloaded file to initiate a setup. Insert a USB flash drive of at least 16 GB in your PC. Burn the downloaded installation media to this USB.
- Switch off your connection to the Internet. If you’re using a laptop, switch off the Wi-Fi button so that the Microsoft servers don’t pick it up.
- Restart with the USB drive inserted in the PC and press the boot key, which, depending on the manufacturer, can vary: F2, F12, Esc, etc. You have to do it very quickly to be taken to the “Windows Out of Box Experience” installation screen, aka OOBE.
- The Windows 10 OOBE usually asks you to insert the language, time and currency format, and keyboard/input method in one go.
The Windows 11 OOBE has a design change that requires you to first select the country or region, followed by the keyboard layout and whether you want to add a secondary keyboard.
- Follow the on-screen instructions until you reach the screen asking you to name your PC.
- You may also be asked whether you want to set up the device for personal use or work/school. (Some users may see this option toward the end.)
- Follow the instructions until you reach the sign-in page below.
- For the login, select “Sign-in options.”
- Select the “offline account” option. If it’s disabled on your system, just press the “back arrow” button to be taken to an offline, local username field.
- You may see a different version of offline account access during setup. In this case, the offline menu is highlighted under the username field. Click “Offline account” instead of “Next.”
- You may see a screen that shows you will get a limited user experience on the device. Click “Limited experience.”
- In one of the last steps, you will be asked to enter the username for the PC. Enter your name.
- Choose privacy settings for the device, then sit back and wait for the Windows 11 installation (for local account) to complete.
What Can You Do If You’re Already Connected to the Internet?
In the event you were connected to the Internet while installing Windows 11, check whether the “offline account” option is being provided. If available, continue with the installation just as it is.
If not, discontinue the installation midway with a cold restart using the power buttons. After that, go back to your Internet source and disable it. That will show the local account option.
How to Enable a Local Account After Windows Installation
You can also enable a local account after Windows 11/10 is installed.
- Select the Run command menu with Win + R and enter “netplwiz.”
- Once the netplwiz dashboard opens, you will see your Microsoft primary administrator account as the default username.
- To add a new username (local or online), click “Add.”
- There are a couple options that will allow you to sign in. You can, of course, use an email address for the online account which is set as default. But you can also ignore that to “sign in without a Microsoft account,” even though it’s not recommended.
- Select “Local account” instead of “Microsoft account” for further registration.
- You’ll be asked to add a user. This involves a new username, password, and password hint. Confirm all of them to proceed with creating a new local account.
- The new local account will be visible in your user accounts list along with the administrator account. You can switch to it with a simple Win + L key combination.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you use a local account as your primary account?
Yes. The newly created local account comes with “Standard user” privileges, which are below “Administrator.”
However, if you click local account “Properties,” you will be able to modify the local account to make it behave as Administrator.
2. Does using a local account change the status of your existing Microsoft account?
Creating a local account doesn’t affect the Microsoft account at all, provided you don’t mistakenly choose to delete the Microsoft account (see below).
3. Can you delete your primary Microsoft user account in Windows 11/10?
Although we won’t recommend it, it’s possible to delete your primary Microsoft account and only use a local account for Windows 11/10. Microsoft does provide the option, but it’s highly recommended not to use this option, as it will delete your paid privileges.
You cannot remove the primary Microsoft account as administrator. That option is greyed out.
To solve the problem, first log in to your local account user desktop using Win + L, then navigate to “netplwiz” using the Windows Run command menu. You can remove the primary Microsoft Administrator account here.
4. Is the local account option available on all Windows editions?
By default, the local account option is available with all Windows editions – Education, Pro, Home, and Enterprise – for both Windows 10 and Windows 11. However, the latter operating system versions may have this option disabled during the initial installation. As shown in this guide, the best way to achieve a local account is to disconnect the Internet source during installation.
Now that you know how to operate your Windows PC with a local account, find out how you can automatically log in to the system. Is your Windows failing to start? Try our troubleshooting tips.
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