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My parents are computer illiterate in a big way. They each have separate accounts on a Windows Vista machine using the welcome screen. I want to create a hidden Administrator account I can use to troubleshoot when I'm there, but they won't be able to see and accidentally use to mess things up with.

No, a password protected account titled "DO NOT USE" will not do.

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2 Answers 2

From How to Create Hidden User Account (Hide User Account from Welcome Screen) in Windows:

  • Run Registry Editor (RegEdit.exe).

  • Navigate to the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\SpecialAccounts\UserList

Note: If SpecialAccounts and UserList is not found, create new sub-key and name them accordingly.

  • Select UserList, and in the right pane, right click on any blank space, and point to New -> DWORD (32-bit) Value.

  • Name the new DWORD registry value name as the exact same name that match the name of the user account to be hidden.

  • Double click on DWORD registry value, and set the value data to 0 in order to hide the account from Welcome Screen

Tip: To display the user account on Welcome Screen again so that it’s visible again, delete the registry entry, or set the value data to 1.

  • Exit Registry Editor.

  • Log off or restart computer to make the change effective.

In order to login into Windows using an user account that has made hidden and invisible, just press Ctrl+Alt+Del to bring up Windows Logon dialog, and then type in the user name and password manually.

EDIT

The above worked well under XP, but under Vista Ctrl-Alt-Del has been suppressed. So to be able to logon to this hidden account, you'll need to return Vista to the classic Logon screen, where user names are typed-in rather than clicking on icons.

This is also done through the registry. Navigate to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
and change the value for "DontDisplayLastUserName" from 0 to 1.

Note: Before doing any registry editing, create a system restore point just in case.

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If I recall correctly, the shortcut C-A-D of bringing up the "classic" Windows Logon screen has been removed from Vista, because the "Welcome" screen already allows to type in any username. –  grawity Dec 25 '09 at 19:28
    
@grawity: Thanks, I forgot about that. Fixed above. –  harrymc Dec 25 '09 at 19:52
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How? Not on Home Premium! –  Nathan L. Dec 31 '09 at 18:40

There already is a hidden administrator account. You can enable it from the command prompt (run it as administrator on one of your parents accounts) using this command:

net user administrator /active:yes

it will then be visible from the logon screen. To hide it again:

net user administrator /active:no

Note: this account has no password by default, so I'd set one in case you forget to unactivate it. If you fear your parents will mess up both of their accounts that they can't even log in, You can keep this account enabled and hide it from the logon screen using the method harrymc posted.

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When activated it will be displayed on Welcome. –  harrymc Dec 25 '09 at 19:36
1  
If you actually read my answer (to the end) you'd see the solution to that. –  John T Dec 26 '09 at 0:21
    
Nevermind wrong spce for comment. –  Nathan L. Dec 31 '09 at 18:40

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