If you forgot the administrator password you can easily reset the password on Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP with the Sticky Keys tricks. It works always.
Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte

Michael Pietroforte

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor of 4sysops. He is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) with more than 30 years of experience in IT management and system administration.
Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte

Update: I published a new guide that explains how to reset the Windows 8 administrator password without the need of any third-party tools.

Forgot the administrator password? There are many ways to access a Windows installation if you forgot the administrator password. Today I’ll show you another procedure to reset the Windows password by replacing the Sticky Keys application. This program allows you to use the function keys SHIFT, CTRL, ALT, or the Windows key by typing one key after the other instead of pressing them simultaneously with the second key. The main advantage of this password reset method is that you don't need third-party software; another plus is that it is easy to carry out because no Registry hack is required, as when you offline enable the built-in administrator.

Forgot Administrator Password - Sticky Keys trick

Please note that resetting the password from an account other than the corresponding user account always means that the user loses the credentials stored in the Windows Vault, stored Internet Explorer passwords, and files that you encrypted with the Encrypting File System (EFS). Of course, if you have a backup of these credentials, you can restore them; likewise, if you have exported the private EFS key, you can import it again after you have reset the password.

Like with all other solutions that allow you to reset the Windows password without having an account on the corresponding computer, you have to boot from a second operating system and access the Windows installation while it is offline.

You can do this with a bootable Windows PE USB stick or by using Windows RE. You can start Windows RE by booting the Windows Vista or Windows 7 setup DVD and then selecting "Repair" instead of "Install Windows."

By the way, you can't use the Windows XP boot CD for this purpose because its Recovery Console will ask for a password for the offline installation. However, you can use a Vista or Windows 7 DVD to reset a forgotten Windows administrator password on Windows XP.

This works because Windows RE, which is based on Vista or Windows 7, will let you launch a command prompt with access to an offline installation without requiring a password.

To reset a forgotten administrator password, follow these steps: ^

  1. Boot from Windows PE or Windows RE and access the command prompt.
  2. Find the drive letter of the partition where Windows is installed. In Vista and Windows XP, it is usually C:, in Windows 7, it is D: in most cases because the first partition contains Startup Repair. To find the drive letter, type C: (or D:, respectively) and search for the Windows folder. Note that Windows PE (RE) usually resides on X:.
  3. Type the following command (replace "c:" with the correct drive letter if Windows is not located on C:):
    copy c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe c:\
    This creates a copy of sethc.exe to restore later.
  4. Type this command to replace sethc.exe with cmd.exe:
    copy /y c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe
    Reboot your computer and start the Windows installation where you forgot the administrator password.
  5. After you see the logon screen, press the SHIFT key five times.
  6. You should see a command prompt where you can enter the following command to reset the Windows password (see screenshot above):
    net user your_user_name new_password
    If you don't know your user name, just type net user to list the available user names.
  7. You can now log on with the new password.

I recommend that you replace sethc.exe with the copy you stored in the root folder of your system drive in step 3. For this, you have to boot up again with Windows PE or RE because you can't replace system files while the Windows installation is online. Then you have to enter this command:

copy /y c:\sethc.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe

Win the monthly 4sysops member prize for IT pros


  1. avatar
    Nakul Ezhuthupally 7 years ago

    great trick, thank u !!


  2. avatar
    Simon 7 years ago

    Why so complicated? Just use the Kon-Boot CD and login with any password 🙂


  3. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 7 years ago

    Kon-Boot has some disadvantages. I will post a review next week.


  4. avatar
    kpx 7 years ago

    So any cd/usb live-OS/dualboot would work since it's just a matter of copying a file?

    I would suggest a third option, namely Knoppix (or almost any distro, since they all live-boot today). Unlike Trinity Rescue Kit, they have full GUIs if that floats your boat. An old live-CD in the bookshelf saved my windows-life a few times back then.

    Something most may not know is that software can be installed from the package manager while running the live environment! Nice if a tool is missing by default 🙂


  5. avatar
    Mohammed Arabiat 7 years ago

    Very clever trick!


  6. avatar
    Gary 7 years ago

    Very Nice! Works like a charm!


  7. avatar
    Albert Bill 7 years ago

    Excellent tip! and extremely easy to setup. Thanks Michael.


  8. avatar
    hexackaro 7 years ago

    I prefer live cd/usb tool.
    For me this is a security breach...
    Otherwise tnx for the news...


  9. avatar
    medo 7 years ago

    it very nice
    but is it work in win xp?


  10. avatar
    Gigi 7 years ago

    You could use %windir% and %systemdrive% for not worrying about the partition letter 😉


  11. avatar
    WinXpUser 7 years ago

    Yeah this works on Windows XP.


  12. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 7 years ago

    Gigi, you can't use environment variables here because you have to use Windows PE to boot up. %winddir% does not point to the offline Windows installation.


  13. avatar
    ptantiku 7 years ago



  14. avatar
    furicle 7 years ago

    Because most people pick simple passwords 🙂


  15. avatar
    Riv 7 years ago

    Hey Michael,

    I used this method and it worked perfectly!

    I understand why you recommend to reload that other file since everytime i do 5 shift clicks it automatically opens the window.

    I'm not very good with computers though. What would be the commands to reverse the process?




  16. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 7 years ago

    furicle, ophcrack might take a little longer, and you wouldn't use it to crack your own password because you don't use simple passwords, right? 😉

    Riv, boot up again from DVD, access the command prompt as described in option 2 and then enter copy /y c:\sethc.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe. After your rebooted everything should be back to normal.


  17. avatar
    Shaun 7 years ago

    Thanks for posting this. My sister received a computer from a friend who had forgotten their admin password and was able to get her on through the steps you posted. So once again thank you.


  18. avatar
    Ivan 7 years ago

    Thanks so much for the nice publication!
    It saved me from reinstalling Windows which was going to lead to the loss of my Programs. I am the only one with the administration privileges. I changed the password unknowingly while trying to explore more on the use of the command prompt. Otherwise its now okay!


  19. avatar
    Ivan 7 years ago

    By the way how does one replace the sethc.exe after he is successful? Thank you


  20. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 7 years ago

    Ivan, I have added this info now at the end of the article.


  21. avatar
    ivan 7 years ago

    Yeah this is great!
    Thanks i am going to try setting it back and copy it.


  22. avatar
    chinaski 7 years ago

    cheers mate, you saved my a**! 🙂


  23. avatar
    C.Cimino 7 years ago

    Very simple and worked perfectly.


  24. avatar
    Nathan 7 years ago

    What a usefull trick. But .. A patch/hotfix exist for this vulnerabily ? Because it's dangerous a lot. I can acces to any programs, netsh or even any other exe file. This is not very secure ... I guess that is present in server too ?

    Admin backdoor ? =/


  25. avatar
    turking 7 years ago

    7 a) net localgroup administrators you_user_name /add


  26. avatar
    Max 7 years ago

    Even simpler method: download the orphcrack.iso
    burn a CD. boot the system and as it boots, the Lice Cd will reveal ALL Passwords on the system.


  27. avatar
    RM 7 years ago

    I must be missing something, especially since everyone finds this easy. I'm a complete idiot when it comes to computers and these step-by-step instructions seemed to be working correctly, however, my password didn't reset. When I get to the "Shift 5 times" prompt that is at the top of this article it doesn't show "The system cannot find....." message. Instead it looks like it's running correctly. Any ideas? I have the CD and can access the command prompt. I found the partition drive information to make sure I'm using the correct drive letter....?!?


  28. avatar
    Tereflegn 7 years ago

    Thank you Michael! Your Sticky Keys trick solved my problem.


  29. avatar
    Fado 7 years ago

    Engineer Mike. Please I didnot understand the step 7. After pressing the shift key 5 times. It brought the command but I didnot know what to type there. Also I didnot understand what you mean by checking "SCREENSHOT ABOVE". Please can you send the solution to my e-mail address I need it urgently. I will be expecting it sir. Thanks a lot. You are unique.


  30. avatar
    Thomas 7 years ago

    thanks - this was a great help !



  31. avatar
    Michael 7 years ago

    Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Brilliant. Thanks so much.


  32. avatar
    jade 7 years ago

    what do you mean Boot from Windows PE or Windows RE and access the command prompt.


  33. avatar
    F2lt 7 years ago

    Boot with a Ubuntu Live CD, but it's the same steps.
    Thank you !


  34. avatar
    Brian 7 years ago

    Utterly impressive, it's clean, no residual effects, no software to install. I could only wish to be good enough to have figured this out.


  35. avatar
    Matt 7 years ago

    Does this still work? I just tried this today and it hung at the Windows 7 boot up screen and then did a memory dump 🙁

    Was there a hot fix released from Microsoft to fix this?


  36. avatar
    dsgardner 7 years ago

    worked great 4 me!!


  37. avatar
    Essex Quam Videri 7 years ago

    I tried this to fix the RA Media Server account problem on a Dell but the password does not reset even though the command is successful.


  38. avatar
    SilentKid 7 years ago

    Doesn't work for me. Most likely because I'm new to this thing 🙁

    When I open the console and type in my username and password, it says my syntax is wrong.

    Pls help me out.

    PS: as an example, if my username is Jason Tang and the password i want is littlecat67, what should I write in the command prompt? (if it isn't too much of a hassle, can I have the FULL command?)


  39. avatar
    Tim120 7 years ago

    This is awesome! Sounds like it works great too! I have a client that lost their password and I'm gonna use this method. couldn't you slave the drive to another pc instead of using a PE?


  40. avatar
    Donald Robak 7 years ago


    Thank you!
    This was my wife's computer. We had not forgotten the password. Somehow, it had changed. One day we were not able to access the computer.
    I used this technique and it worked just as you said. I used a variation, though. I used a Ubuntu install disk.


  41. avatar
    Alfred 7 years ago

    It works! Thank You!


  42. avatar
    Tim120 7 years ago

    Great advice! It worked for me by slaving the hard drive to another pc, then taking ownership (boot to safe mode, right click the file, select properties and goto security tab) of cmd.exe and sethc.exe on the locked out drive. A quick copy and paste via explorer then renamed cmd.exe to set.exe and I was in. Thank You!


  43. avatar
    Tim120 7 years ago

    oh and btw. I have ophcrack, john the ripper and Cain and Abel. It was not a simple password.


  44. avatar
    nick 7 years ago

    mike, i would really like to thank you for saving me alot of time and money. this fiz is very detailed and works great, i will recomend you to everyone
    thank you


  45. avatar
    Justin 7 years ago

    Can't thank you enough.
    Every other method seemed to think there was no windows partition or no ntfs partition. (all my usual methods and some new found by searching) This was my first job on windows 7 and I was stumped. I used the thread for making a usb Windows PE and then continued onto this thread.
    Worked like a charm and is actually easier than it appears to be from the directions.
    This method was my last resort as it appeared the most complex. Really it wasn't.
    I am thinking of leaving it and not changing back as I do not doubt I will have more issues to fix from this specific user down the road.
    Thanks a bunch.


  46. avatar
    Kathy 7 years ago

    My brother tried this several times and has problems entering the command after hitting the shift 5 times. Can you please tell me EXACTLY what to enter as a command if for example my user name is katrina and my new password is cat?


  47. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 7 years ago

    Kathy, it would be: net user katrina cat


  48. avatar
    Candelario Dimas 7 years ago

    Hi, i had problems when i tried to change user password, because the name wasn't listed in the net user list, then i tried typing the command "compmgmt.msc" in the command prompt, this opened the window of computer management and there i could change the user password. (Sorry for my english, but hope this could help others people). From Colombia Thanks for the help.


  49. avatar
    Bebe 7 years ago

    this does not work on NTFS win xp accses denied


  50. avatar
    mike 7 years ago

    Amazing. Thanks


  51. avatar
    Joseph 7 years ago

    This one works!!! Good look bro! thanks...For those of you who have problems, follow his instructions step by step, every single detail.


  52. avatar
    Freego 7 years ago

    Got to step 7, thanks. How do I input a double account name?


  53. avatar
    mike 7 years ago

    This seems too good to be true. Are there any circumstances it does not work? Will it work with a 64 bit windows 7 system?


  54. avatar
    sam127 7 years ago

    thanks a lot.it worked on my acer aspire 6920g.also saved me a lot of money and time.thanks again.


  55. avatar
    Ed 7 years ago

    I was waiting for your reply to double user names, (user names made up of two words), as this seems to ruin the syntax. The system tries to use the first word of the name as the user, and the second as the password.
    How does one get around this?
    I have the problem that I know the user password, but after entering the password the system gives the error "group policy client service failed the logon"
    Not sure what this means or needs to fix it.



  56. avatar
    ZACH 7 years ago

    Hi, I changed my password last week and i cant remember it, I lost the CD that came with my laptop. please tell me how to get in the computer!!


  57. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 7 years ago

    ZACH. Sure I can tell you how to get in the computer. Read this article. 🙂


  58. avatar
    Wasserman 7 years ago

    Excelent! I use Ubuntu LiveCd and works!


  59. avatar
    Eric 7 years ago

    The Sticky Key solution worked.
    I used the Ultimate Boot CD to get a GUI environment.
    Then, I found that the sethc.exe file was locked (could not rename). Step 4 did not work. So I did the following:

    5. Use http://download.cnet.com/Unlocker/3000-2248_4-10493998.html Unlocker. Download to a USB flash drive from your pc. Insert USB flash drive in target pc, and install it.
    6. Delete the sethc.exe file usning Unlocker (right click file and you will see Unlocker options). (remember that you have a copy at the root of c:) Rename cmd.exe to sethc.exe.
    7. Reboot your computer and start the Windows installation where you forgot the administrator password.
    8. After you see the logon screen, press the SHIFT key five times.
    9. You should see a command prompt where you can enter the following command to reset the Windows password (see screenshot above):
    net user you_user_name new_password
    If you don’t know your user name, just type net user to list the available user names.
    10. You can now log on with the new password.
    11. Rename c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe to cmd.exe. Move sethc.exe back from C:\ to C:\windows\system32\ .

    Thanks for the help. I hope my addition helps others, too.


  60. avatar
    Marco IT 7 years ago

    Dear Friends,
    thanks a lot for your help, really great! I spent one week over night to solve this problem, I tried a lot of method without positive result. finally i find this page.
    I recover the my mother in love PC....I got 1000 positive points!


  61. avatar
    sam 7 years ago

    I am bit lost! I have followed the instructions till where sethc.exe is backed up and restart and have rebooted the pc with windows xp cd. I have started re installation but do I need to install the OS in a different folder?

    I have get 2 options:
    1,To use the folder and delete the existing windows installation in it , press L.
    2, To use a different folder. press ESC.

    what option do I choose? the ultimate goal is to just reset password and not change any settings on the OS.


  62. avatar
    Biswajit 7 years ago

    Dear Michael

    Its working...

    I am working with a Indian OEM(Hardware)where we need to give POC of our newly launched products. After every POC we used to format our Demo units as admin password is untraceable and its time consuming. But now onwards no formatting will be required as we can reset the password by your easy trick. Thanks a lot. excellent!



  63. avatar
    chuck 7 years ago

    as another user stated..i have a 2 name user account..how do you enter a dual name account. It worked for admin account, but its disable, but not the 2 name user account. how do u enter a 2name user account?


  64. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 7 years ago

    sam, don't boot from the CD. Remove the CD before you reboot.

    chuck, type this: net user "Name1 Name2" password


  65. avatar
    chuck 7 years ago

    well still no luck still with the 2name user name...thx anyway...i did your registry trick instead..enabling admin account..SWEET!! UDA MAN 🙂


  66. avatar
    ana 7 years ago

    hey there, my brother has a toshiba netbook and it doesn't have a drive for a cd, so is there a way to do it without a disc ?


  67. avatar
    Wesley 7 years ago

    Worked like a charm. Thank you very much for this tutorial!


  68. avatar
    Domas S 7 years ago

    Awesome, worked like a charm... Nice trick


  69. avatar
    Steve 7 years ago



  70. avatar
    mcwood 7 years ago

    works on windows server workgroup or domain member or domain oontroller- at the command prompt type compmgmt.msc, dsa.msc, etc... WOW. Even works across an rdp session, yikes!


  71. avatar
    Paul Robertson 7 years ago

    Worked perfectly, thank you!


  72. avatar
    think.point.click. 7 years ago

    Awesome dude! Thanks, that worked like a charm.


  73. avatar
    Davey 7 years ago

    Fantastic little trick! Saves me time when doing recovery work. Too often is a PC dropped at the flat, with no admin password relayed!

    Thank you sir, for sharing.


  74. avatar
    Chris 7 years ago

    Hey! 🙂 cool trick! except....it seems to give me access denied messages...why? Is there something I can do to fix this? Could it be that there are Parental Controls on my computer?


  75. avatar
    Steven Hochman 7 years ago

    Amazing, but I can't do it myself, I will have to find someone who knows what they are doing. I have an employee leave me on bad terms and I don't know his passwords.
    he stole all my files through a network from his PC


  76. avatar
    manofthepack 7 years ago

    You are a God among men. This works just as well with Vista 64-bit.

    Thanks for the tip.



  77. avatar
    sam 7 years ago

    Nice!! got it working on Win7. Just like to hightlight,
    "step 5, Reboot your computer and start the Windows installation where you forgot the administrator password." is bit misleading. You don't have to start the windows installation you just need to restart the pc and when you are prompted for the credentials you need to hit "SHIFT" 5 times.

    Am I right?


  78. avatar
    Ali 6 years ago

    Sorry, but something is awry with the instructions. I waited and waited for the logon screen to show up. I waited till a new operating system was installed. When I did get to the logon screen on this new OS, hitting the shift key 5 times brought up the sticky keys msg. For those whom it tryly worked, congrats.


  79. avatar

    Did this exercise on windows 7 and it worked .
    5 Suppose to read, Reboot windows normally, not from CD/DVD and when the log on screen appears proceed to 6.

    Thank you .


  80. avatar
    Todd 6 years ago

    Win 7 64 Ult; worked wonderfully!

    THANKS Michael!!!


  81. avatar
    Jeans 6 years ago

    It's working well with the french version of Windows 7.


  82. avatar
    ketan 6 years ago

    Awesome dude! Thanks, that worked like a charm.Thank you very much.


  83. avatar
    saim 6 years ago

    thanx dude it work well


  84. avatar
    Yoyo 6 years ago

    Thank You Michael, You Help my Problem..
    I Used Opcrack and then the user not showing
    Then I Used Opcrack to do your step
    Then Enabled my User Administrator
    Restore File
    and Log In into Administrator and Change That User
    and many thanks... Everything goind good.


  85. avatar
    Maggie 6 years ago

    Do we need a CD to reset the password? I don't understand. But all my work is under the administrator and I forgot the password. Can someone just give me easier steps? Obviously I'm not that bright.


  86. avatar
    Olaitan 6 years ago

    Thanks Michael! Works like a charm! Thanks alot!


  87. avatar
    Dan 6 years ago

    Thanks very much, worked a treat with my Vista PC, saved my bacon!


  88. avatar
    gemap 6 years ago

    machael thanks 4everthing.but i need the key like xp is cctrl+delete.


  89. avatar
    gemap 6 years ago

    machael thanks 4everthing.but i need the key like xp is ctrl+delete.


  90. avatar
    Andy 6 years ago

    Thanks. The Sticky Key worked great to restore our lost Vista password the first time through. Some instructions required some thinking but we figured it out. The screen shot helped clear up some confusion with you_user_name vs your_account. Maybe change "you_user_name" to "your_user_name" and add an instruction to replace "your_user_name" with your logon name and new_password with the new password you want to use would help.



  91. avatar
    fitsum 6 years ago

    i really went to say thank you
    you are so great
    but i want to ask you something
    from where did you get this?


  92. avatar
    lostuser 6 years ago

    thanks so much... just installed 7 and a lot of software on a secondary computer a few weeks ago and already forgot the pass (and of course the hint was wrong)!

    saved me a ton of time!


  93. avatar
    lonelycat 6 years ago

    Thank you so much. My son lost his Windows 7 administrator password and your advice let me change the password. It worked perfectly. My son thanks you too.


  94. avatar
    Valery Marinin 6 years ago

    It works like a champ! Thanks.


  95. avatar
    happy 6 years ago

    Thanks! I found it very hard to interpret the instructions though. Maybe some more screenshots are order for the less computer fluent.

    Thanks again


  96. avatar
    Osama Tamimi 6 years ago

    Many thanks dude , it worked


  97. avatar
    Ganesh 6 years ago

    Great stuff and easy one.. I had been struggling for all download and recovery tools download...


  98. avatar
    Josh 6 years ago

    Brilliant! My dad has been getting a lot of spam and spyware on his computer. I finally set him up with a User (not Admin) account. Forgot the password after... This worked so well, I cannot thank you enough! Thanks a lot!


  99. avatar
    Manijeh 6 years ago

    Many thanks,It works...


  100. avatar
    Dee 6 years ago

    Not complicated at all and worked great!! Thanks a million! (:


  101. avatar
    Kris 6 years ago

    Thank you dear sir!


  102. avatar
    Sam 6 years ago

    Great! Your trick really works. Quite simple. Many thanks.


  103. avatar
    Brent 6 years ago

    Absolutely awesome! It worked for me faultlessly! I am very thankful for your help. These steps did not only work, they were extremely easy. Thanks again!


  104. avatar
    Chocks 6 years ago

    Amazing tip!.. you rocking.. saved so many ppl day by this post..


  105. avatar
    Tehseen 6 years ago

    Thanks Sir, U r amazing.


  106. avatar
    Sarya 6 years ago

    Thank you for this article, I have heard about this before but never tried it.
    But I have a question, is there any known file were windows store passwords? And if yes, is it possible to back it up before doing this?

    Thanks again.


  107. avatar
    Dave 6 years ago



  108. avatar
    Runey 6 years ago

    worked fantastically.. i can definitely see the advantage of this, don't have to waste a disc if you don't have any of those boot cd's made.. where as with this i was able to just use my already existing win 7 disc (although my install was vista, it worked fine) and worked a charm 🙂


  109. avatar
    sdx 6 years ago

    nice trick, done in less than 30 mins.....


  110. avatar
    Alex 6 years ago

    Absolutely brilliant, thank you.

    Just used this to fix my brother's pc.


  111. avatar
    Sam 6 years ago

    This was like OMG YOU SAVED MY ASS.

    And I'm a pretty heavy geek, but there's always some trick we can learn.

    As like others guys here, I was pretty upset and was really afraid of using third-party tools to mess up with my SAM database.

    Thanks a lot Microsoft sometimes leave this stupid software holes behind.

    And you saved me a lot of trouble, thanks!


  112. avatar
    Lloyd Morris 6 years ago

    You are a life saver!! ive been locked out of my vista laptop for over 2 years; i was about to sell it for parts and amazingly found this page from google! thank you so, so much finally have a laptop again!


  113. avatar
    daniel 6 years ago

    But what if Sticky Keys is disabled? Why is disabled? Because if you hold SHIFT (to stop autorun on cd for example) it activates, or some KVM use double SHIFT as a special action, etc.


  114. avatar
    lostpass 6 years ago

    Worked great -- thanks a million +1


  115. avatar
    bafutu 6 years ago

    Brilliant, worked like a charm!


  116. avatar
    Woody 6 years ago

    So great! That's really work for my trouble. Thank you so much.


  117. avatar
    Kash 6 years ago

    Awsome dude. Really clean solution.
    Was confused in the beginning though, I was typing:
    net user Admin new 12345.
    I saw a few peeps confused up her too. So for all:
    User name: Admin
    New password: 12345

    Command: net user Admin 12345

    Keep up the goodwork!


  118. avatar
    Ess 6 years ago

    This has been one the best tricks I ever came across!!! Thanx a mill guy, you rock!

    It works like magic with no error....


  119. avatar
    Ankush 6 years ago

    Bravo i tried this method and worked successfully...
    Thanks a lot


  120. avatar
    Fabri 6 years ago


    Thanks for your work, it helped me a lot.


  121. avatar
    olo 6 years ago

    Great! Thank you very much.


  122. avatar
    Dayo 6 years ago

    Great stuff man.


  123. avatar
    David 6 years ago

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!! Instead of OS disk used NTFS4DOS boot disk.


  124. avatar
    antoine mayrant 6 years ago

    it worked!!! thanks but i do have a problem now. my product key is invalid.


  125. avatar
    Tyrmyk 6 years ago

    You saved my life, THANK YOU!!!


  126. avatar
    Bren 6 years ago

    You can start Windows RE by booting the Windows Vista or Windows 7 setup DVD and then selecting “Repair” instead of “Install Windows.”*********

    As a rule, I can figure out anything but his one is tough. I put in the CD and got to repair but I can't find a way to get to the editor.

    Will you please help me out. I am in desperate need of getting into my adm account. Thank you so much


  127. avatar
    Temmy 6 years ago

    You are blessed. It worked perfectly. I appreciate. Thanks so much.


  128. avatar
    William Smead 6 years ago

    ok...i tried this and it gives me a syntax suggestion. What command would it be if user is Libby Mae and password is blondie? (on log in screen)


    • avatar
      Tom 2 weeks ago

      For those with 2 names in your user name, i.e. Lilly Mae, Jason Tang, you have to group your name with quotes around it for it to work:

      net user your_user_name new_password

      So these become your commands:

      net user "Lilly Mae" 1234

      net user "Jason Tang" littlecat67

      This is just one more reason why it's actually better to just have a one-word pseudonym instead of a full name as a login on a computer....


  129. avatar
    hwrd 6 years ago

    thank you, great help.


  130. avatar
    Aloysius 6 years ago

    Hi I need help, basically I am using option 4 to reset the administrator password. However when I boot to Windows RE I cannot able to find the sethc.exe file in the X:\windows\system32 directory. I am not sure is it because of the access problem since I was only given access as a standard user where I just log in to domain but not give rights to install any applications..



  131. avatar
    Yobee Ziskey 6 years ago

    Lifesaver! May the Lord of IT save us all from users...


  132. avatar
    Rich Bartels 6 years ago

    Wow! after day day of struggling and false leads, I found your solution and it worked in 10 minutes! Thank you.


  133. avatar
    ugh 6 years ago

    Amazing 🙂 thanks a lot


  134. avatar
    Lars M 6 years ago

    Woow! This is great thank´s
    works perfectly.


  135. avatar
    matt 6 years ago

    thanks great trick, workded a treat


  136. avatar
    SK 6 years ago

    Great article. Thx


  137. avatar
    Richie 6 years ago

    Thanks a lot this is awesame help

    Keep up the good work!!!!



  138. avatar
    BBS543 6 years ago



  139. avatar
    Mary 6 years ago

    Thank-you. I haven't had to access a command prompt in years and was scared to death! You made it easy.


  140. avatar
    goldy 6 years ago

    Great! it works without any glitch .. thanks a lot


  141. avatar
    Vj 6 years ago

    Thanks a lot Michael, saved me a lot of trouble!


  142. avatar
    newIT 6 years ago

    Very helpful! Thanks!


  143. avatar
    rlai000 6 years ago

    Yes, it works like a charm on Windows 7 x64

    Here is some suggestion:

    1) for those who concerned about security, remember that "physical" security is the first. No matter how hard is your security, ones who physically get your computer could do whatever needs to go into the system

    2) I would suggest to "rename" the file sethc.exe (like rename it to _sethc.exe) instead of copying to other location. So, after the password reset, you could rename it back



  144. avatar
    David 6 years ago

    I'm working on a Win 7 Starter & the default admin account was never activated. The user has forgotten the password & this is a close as I've gotten to unlocking it without buying software. None of the steps works. Can't get a command prompt, can't get into BIOS setup to boot from a USB (password protected - forgotten). Nothing seems to work.


  145. avatar
    Daryl 6 years ago

    Can you send me a video link on how you carry about this trick. Im very new to computers and I am already receiving trouble at step2. It keeps giving me syntax errors and some other errors as well.


  146. avatar
    Jubayer Arefin 6 years ago

    I have lost my Vista passwords so after some "search and destroy" I landed here and see some hope. I also found that torrents for MSDaRT 5.0 and 6.0 is available so I am going to use 6.0 for my machine.

    Thanks to the author.


  147. avatar
    Arun Gupta 6 years ago

    Yesterday I was trying to log in to my wife's laptop's admin account when I realized that I had forgotten the password. No matter what I tried, just could not remember it. I tried ophcrack but I had set the password so complex that it was useless. Then I came across your site and was able to reset the password in 10 minutes. Thanks for publishing this very useful method.



  148. avatar
    vanky 6 years ago

    thanks dude,it worked great.brilliant...


  149. avatar
    Shimon 6 years ago

    you may use hiren boot CD version 15.0 and above..
    in there- use the offline password manager



  150. avatar
    Fernando 6 years ago

    very good trick!!! Thanks for share it.


  151. avatar
    massmeister 6 years ago

    you saved my day
    million thanks


  152. avatar
    Sergio 6 years ago

    Awesone, It works just fine and easy

    A bunch of thank


  153. avatar
    Chris 6 years ago

    Great, girlfriend locked herself out of her computer, I'm now the hero.

    Thank you for this method!


  154. avatar
    Phil 6 years ago

    Brilliant fix thanks - I used the vista replace file method worked a treat.


  155. avatar
    Ramacher 6 years ago

    Thank you SOO MUCH! I was trying for the past day to recover my password and everything failed but this!

    Instead of using Windows PE, I took my main HDD out and placed it in another PC and followed your guide (had to change ownership of the sethc.exe file to overwrite it).

    Thanks again!


  156. avatar
    Mikel 6 years ago

    Hi Michael,

    I followed your steps, but in step 6 I encountered a new problem. After hitting 5 times "Shift" I got the promt but than every key I hit produced a "?". Thus I was unable to type in "net user etc".
    Do you have any suggestion for that?
    Thank you!


  157. avatar
    Mikel 6 years ago

    Hi again,

    I found the solution by chance. The Laptop I used had an inbuilt tripple letter set: german, english and russian. Apparently only the russian one worked. Probably this was the default keyboard which Vista must have been used when I was encoding the password.

    Note I had not forgot my password but it just did not work anymore.


  158. avatar
    tlwhitec 6 years ago

    Thanks! Works like a charm!


  159. avatar
    Kevin 6 years ago

    Thanks Michael

    I had a problem invoking the cmd editor to restore the original sethc.exe file.

    How do I do this?



  160. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 6 years ago

    Kevin, you have to boot up again from CD. You can't replace system files while the OS is online.


  161. avatar
    Ron 6 years ago

    Hi Michael,
    Followed your instructions without any problems. After pressing shift five times, command prompt came up just fine. Typed net user and the user accounts were listed but also said "The command completed with one or more errors." I went ahead and entered net user . The screen told me the command completed successfully. However, when I typed in the user name and password at the login screen, I got the response "your account has been disabled. Please see your administrator."

    Any help much appreciated.



  162. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 6 years ago

    Ron, you have to enable your account or the administrator account. Read this.


  163. avatar
    Ron 6 years ago

    Thanks for the additional help. The machine now boots into windows without a password but i can access nothing. i get an error, "The server process could not be started because the configured identity is incorrect. Check the user name and password."


  164. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 6 years ago

    Ron, seems you not only have a password problem. Perhaps it is faster to reinstall everything?


  165. avatar
    Brian 6 years ago

    Michael, worked like a charm. Thanks so much for posting this!


  166. avatar
    Mike Milla 6 years ago

    thank you very much. I was able to use a windows 7 home premium family 3 pack upgrade disk to boot into repair mode and reset the password on a windows vista install. The catch was that it needed to be the correct bit. I tried the 64 bit disk first and it didnt work but the 32 bit disk worked. Awesome. This helped me access the factory recovery built into the pc.


  167. avatar
    Simo 6 years ago

    My account name is Mohamed Amajoutt what should I type in the command prompt of step 6. When I type "net user mohamed amajoutt new_password it gives me a syntax error. pleas help.



  168. avatar
    Mike Milla 6 years ago

    This Comment is for Simo

    It doesnt seem like anyone verified that it works, but I saw a post where someone recommended this syntax.

    net user "mohammad amajoutt" new_password


    net user mohammad_amajoutt new_password

    please let me know if any of these work. I havent had a computer to try this way. But I really cant think of another way to type it.

    I believe if you type

    net help user

    it tells you to use quotes. Please verify if it works!


  169. avatar
    Sarya Taha 5 years ago

    @ Simo
    usually when working with files' and folders' names in DOS you should remove the spaces, so try this
    net user mohammadamajoutt new_password


  170. avatar
    Manvendra 5 years ago

    but we have to know the credential like user name and password of user account..


  171. avatar
    stan 5 years ago

    On step 4 it says my access is denied what do i do


  172. avatar
    Dave 5 years ago


    Just wanted to say thanks. My girlfriend forgot her PW, and I used this trick to change it.
    Worked like a charm. I am now a hero.


  173. avatar
    Merk 5 years ago

    I don't have an install disk because most new laptops come with a recovery partition, which of course cant be accessed without a password. lol so I removed the hard drive and added it to another computer running Vista. The permissions for sethc.exe needed to be changed in order to copy or rename it. Vista and Win7 let you do that easy. You can do this in XP but its not as simple. BAM! I'm in! Great article!


  174. avatar
    Inspectorgadget 5 years ago

    This worked perfectly, but I got confused also when it was time to change the password and user name..type...

    net user doug 12345

    doug is the name of the account on my machine and 12345 is the password I chose...worked perfectly!


  175. avatar
    Nikki 5 years ago

    I tried this on my daughters computer and the sticky keys message comes up after i press shift and not the command prompt what am i doing wrong


  176. avatar
    nishant 5 years ago

    i m using windows 7
    when i wrote that command in command prompt it says that
    access is denied
    o files copied


  177. avatar
    Shahid 5 years ago



  178. avatar
    D3las 5 years ago

    Genious, thank you very much...


  179. avatar
    rhys 5 years ago



  180. avatar
    Sam 5 years ago

    Please help! I've tried putting the first thing in you say in the command box but it says "the system cannot find the file specified". I tried exchanging c with d but still no joy. Any ideas please. Sam


  181. avatar
    flamento 5 years ago

    Hi Michael, i am using Win 7 Professional in a notebook that belongs to my enterprise, and i don´t have administrator´s rights to install my personal programs, so i ask you, doing the steps you posted it, should i be able to log in like and administrator? My enterprise should be able to discover what i did? tks


  182. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 5 years ago

    flamento, yes the admins of your enterprise can detect that you changed the administrator password.


  183. avatar
    mick 5 years ago

    Worked on Win 7 64 bit....like a charm - very easy.
    Thanks very much Michael


  184. avatar
    James 5 years ago

    Nice trick and very easy to follow. Thanks o much.

    I just followed this trick to reset my forgotten admin password on Win7.


  185. avatar
    cathy 5 years ago

    I can not access my computer user name administrator account,. I was able to get into an other account that i was able to remember the password. but can not access any administrator objects with out the password. is there anyway i can access it any other way or clear the password so i can use that account again .


  186. avatar
    Gina 5 years ago

    Thank you so much! I am NOT computer savvy but with your instructions I was able to access my Windows 7. I agree with inspectorgadgets comment earlier...I got a little confused when it was time to change the net user password. Luckily, I was able to figure it out. Thanks again! 🙂


  187. avatar
    Hartwig Anderlik 5 years ago

    Dear Michael
    I use my name as account name with a space between them.
    Hartwig Anxxxxx "one space" and then my new password.
    I'm not successful
    I would like same additional help.

    Thank you for your consideration.


  188. avatar
    Alan 5 years ago

    I couldn't get past the part where you press shift five times - when i do that it brings up a box which says 'Do you want to turn on sticky keys?' There is a Yes or No button but whichever one I press takes me back to the logon screen - I can't get a command prompt.This is Windows 7 home and the logon screen has just the user name already written in and the singl password box underneath. I don't have the ctrl-alt-del option.


  189. avatar
    coolass 5 years ago

    nice thank you, you saved my data which i kept on my desktop thanks a lot 🙂


  190. avatar
    Vikas garg 5 years ago

    access is denied...
    0 file(s) copied...
    such things are shown over the command prompt screen.
    what to do???


  191. avatar
    Bill 5 years ago

    Bravo Michael very Nice!!! I just used this rather than the .iso method, i have used that method for years.


  192. avatar
    stelioc 5 years ago

    if your username is more than one word then you type

    net user "your user name" password


  193. avatar
    DC 92 5 years ago

    Worked after typing in net user to list administrator name, which was spelled differently than the login in name. Thank you for publishing this information, saved me from installing Win 7 again!


  194. avatar
    Jonathan 5 years ago

    Worked like a charm! That is a great trick. Easy and safe for the average user.


  195. avatar
    kuroiyagi 5 years ago

    can anyone help me. After i finished step 4 and reboot my laptop. It just starts running windows repair again and again...but cannot see logon screen.


  196. avatar
    Muhammad Ali 5 years ago

    Thank You Very Much Mr. Michael Pietroforte

    Your Post Help me very much as I was going to loose Some Special Programes Installed in My PC, which I could not afford to loose by Re-installing the Windows.

    Thanks Again


  197. avatar
    Ron Ellis 5 years ago

    Very helpful.... Thank you!


  198. avatar
    atif 5 years ago

    hi ,
    i tried using this command, but when i type >net user administrator newpassword : whatever password i put in it still not let me login and saying about password requirement and policy etc

    please help


  199. avatar
    lazylemur 5 years ago

    Absolutely brilliant. I did the copying under Ubuntu LiveCD, it is really easy. Working well on updated Windows 7 Pro. Thank you!


  200. avatar
    Mustafa 5 years ago

    Awesome. It works for me. Many many thanks.


  201. avatar
    birmaram 5 years ago

    really it is nice method ...................
    i agree your method ..................


  202. avatar
    Andreas 5 years ago


    I tried the above but did not worked; so I just started the command prompt from the windows installation CD ( I have windows 7 Ultimate)
    and typed : net user administrator 1234
    clicked enter and the administrator account then was visible and password was 1234.
    If the above command returns an invalid or unknown user account name, then type : net user
    and the cmd will return the available user names.

    Best Regards

    Andreas from Cyprus


  203. avatar
    April 5 years ago

    I tried this sticky fingers method but i now cant get to a command prompt. I turn off laptop the wrong way and it says start with safemode and command prompt but it simply reboots in safe mode and doesnt take me to the darn c prompt. I got to it once last night this way but i was using someone elses instructions and they didnt work. I suppose i am also a bit confused about the instructions anyway. I believe there is, for us pc for dummies people, a lack of steps or at least explanation of steps in the beginnin with the ctrl+alt+delete thing. Please help me! I am bed ridden and my laptop is my only livelyhood.


  204. avatar
    Tim 5 years ago

    Worked like a charm ! Thanks alot


  205. avatar
    Peter 5 years ago

    I'm another one who can't access the command line in the reboot. Pressing 'shift' 5 times brings up the sticky keys prompt. What's the fix for this?


  206. avatar
    Peter 5 years ago

    Got it! I was in the wrong sector the first time. when all else fails, re-read the directions slowly.


  207. avatar
    Xing 5 years ago

    Omg thank you sooooo much !


  208. avatar
    Imran 4 years ago

    Thanks, it works & not so complicated.


  209. avatar
    thatotherguy 4 years ago

    I guess I'm pretty dense but I don't understand this line

    "Please note that resetting the password from an account other than the corresponding user "

    You haven't logged in, right? So your credentials are always lost this way?


  210. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 4 years ago

    @thatotherguy. Exactly. If you follow the method described here, you will loose data that was encrypted by Windows.


  211. avatar
    David 4 years ago

    Hi All,

    I used this method to get to a prompt, and then issued the "control sysdm.cpl" command in order to bring up the System Properties dialog. I was then able to take my laptop out of the Domain it belonged to. This was required to fix the "The trust relationship between this workstation and the primary domain has failed" error that came up earlier. My specific challenge was that I did not have any knowledge of the local logon's password, and therefore couldn't sign onto the computer either through the Domain or locally.

    Thanks so much for this method.

    Kind Regards,



  212. avatar
    kimberly 4 years ago

    When i try and do this on the other account (not administrator account) it says my access is denied. What should i do? I have windows vista.


  213. avatar
    Ken 4 years ago

    This article saved my life. After losing the pwd on a 2003 box we were looking at reloading a dual os. Thanks to this sticky keys fix we were able to reset it and save countless hours.


  214. avatar
    SR 4 years ago

    Thanks! Definitely worked for me!


  215. avatar
    Jonathan 4 years ago

    When trying either step 3 or 4 I get "the device is not ready." I have tried using all the different USB ports on my computer. Any advice?


  216. avatar
    Patrick 4 years ago

    Freakin Awesome! Worked perfectly. Thanks!


  217. avatar
    Ren 4 years ago

    This is great. Had pictures on the computer I had to save. worked fantastic.


  218. avatar
    sudarshan 4 years ago

    gr8 work, just awesome


  219. avatar
    Harry 4 years ago

    It says access is denied.


  220. avatar
    Melanie 4 years ago

    Yes it says access is denied do you have a work around? We have an old laptop in the office that no one has used in many years. I would like to set it up as a spare but cannot add or update any programs as the passwords I have are for the users who had limited account access. Assistance is appreciated!


  221. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 4 years ago

    If accessed was denied then you probably didn't boot from a Windows DVD and just used the command on the Windows installation where you want to reset the password.


  222. avatar
    Stevep 4 years ago

    Thank you for this - worked brilliantly.


  223. avatar
    Daniel 4 years ago

    thanks Mike..tried with Win 7 Pro 64-bit and really works..!!!


  224. avatar
    shaan 4 years ago

    how to see windows 7 password without clearing password


  225. avatar
    ashley 4 years ago

    i need help connecting to the internet i installed my laptop at my aunts house when i first bought it but i moved back here with my mom. and i cant access to the internet here,.only when i go to my aunt house.


  226. avatar
    Dilipa 4 years ago

    this is unbelivable! it workes!! i have done the same but when click install i selected upgrade...then it ask me to take the CD and start windows normally and then insert the CD. when it restart and display the admin user i did the trick with Shift key and..... WOW i actually reset my admin Password and log on to the PC using it.

    Thanks Mate!!!


  227. avatar
    Chad 4 years ago

    I can't get it to work I have tried several times with the command prompt


  228. avatar
    lisa 4 years ago

    how do you find out the new password


  229. avatar
    fifi 4 years ago

    I seriously am lost... ok I have an administrator account which I have forgotten the password.. I have a standard user account only and I just cant create a password user disk.. its getting on my nerves coz I am not getting any where. Please I need some help and I mean a simple explanations please. Is there any way I can reset my admin password?


  230. avatar
    alisha salgaonkar 4 years ago

    it worked...
    u simply awsmmm
    If I couldn't recover my password...den wld hd in lot f trouble
    as tmrw s my xam n all my data is in my lappy
    thnxx alottt 🙂


  231. avatar
    Ailee 4 years ago

    telling me access is denied?


  232. avatar
    Mikael 4 years ago

    I cannot even begin to tell you how greatful I am for this, you saved my Christmas.
    Works like a charm and no need for shady third-party products.

    Thanks again.


  233. avatar
    Paul G 4 years ago

    Well, that saved me a whole load of work! Great post, keep up the good work.



  234. avatar
    jeremy 4 years ago

    if I was publishing a fix, I'd explain it in precise detail. So that a person like myself is able to understand. These are my problems, do I use a third party software??? Yes, or no? I read CD this CD that. Their is no CD drive in my Acer one. I've read through all the commentary. Others have addressed this issue. The solution still eludes me. I have studied computers for tlhree days now. I could never get a command prompt. 🙁 I just put the OS on a flash drive. And booted from there. At least I stillgot a hard drive. Thanks all of you. very interesting line of work.


  235. avatar
    Chris Wylie 3 years ago

    Just wanted to thanks! This thread lives on. I actually used the "net localgroup administrators you_user_name /add" suggestion because I joined a system to the domain without adding my group to administrators. Doh!


  236. avatar
    Anil 3 years ago

    Thanks mate... you are a STAR!


  237. avatar
    Chris 3 years ago

    Great tip, it saved my life !


  238. avatar
    Cathy 3 years ago

    Thank you! It worked like a champ. My father had messed up his account with admin privileges and luckily I had set up an admin account for myself, but had forgotten the password. I was able to reset mine and then fix his. Now I have setup another Admin account and changed his to standard user.


  239. avatar
    Robert Allen 3 years ago

    I followed the instructions, and everything appeared to copy correctly into the d: partition. When I re-boot, I get to the log-in screen, and press the shift key 5 times, and I get the message “do you want to turn on sticky keys?” I say yes, here a whistle when I press the next key, and nothing happens, no command prompt. I suspect that similar to a comment above, perhaps even though it says the file is copied, maybe I am not overwriting the sethc.exe with cmd.exe? I feel like I am soooo close, but sooo far!

    H E L P !!!!!

    If I can’t get this to work, I am going to have to re-load this machine, and I would prefer not to do so in order to not lose software for which I no longer know the whereabouts of their discs. On the other hand, it is infuriating that I am locked out of basic things as simple as changing the time on my computer clock within the Windows GUI environment, let alone maintenance items and adding miscellaneous shareware programs to make my life simpler.

    (Re-posted this to click on box to get email notifications of future responses, sorry for the duplication)


  240. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    Robert, it appears sethc.exe was not copied correctly. What Windows version do you have? Are you sure that Windows in on drive D?


  241. avatar
    Robert Allen 3 years ago


    While in the command prompt using the Windows RE environment, I confirmed that the sethc.exe file was in the D partition. In the Windows GUI, it shows up at the C drive so I wanted to make sure I had done that correctly.

    When I look in the Windows GUI as the properties of the Sethc.exe file, it shows that users cannot modify the file. When I followed your directions previously, it reported back "file copied successfully" in the command prompt environment. It still seems to me that my machine is not letting me overwrite the sethc.exe command in the System32 directory; or, perhaps when this machine was loaded something was modified to try to frustrate this method? Is there a way to copy either a clean cmd.exe and then overwrite the sethc.exe with it form the setup disk directly?

    As I understand the process you have described, even though we are using the RE disk to access the command prompt, we are still manipulating files already installed on the machine. is there a way to overwrite one of these previously installed files, taking a clean file from the RE disk and replacing the one on the machine,
    to make this method work?




  242. avatar
    Robert Allen 3 years ago

    Hi, sorry, I forgot to answer your question directly:
    1. I have Windows 7 Enterprise, SP1
    2. In the command prompt, if entering from the Windows GUI, it shows up on the C drive. If in the RE command prompt, it shows up as the D drive.


  243. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    Robert, if you booted from the Windows setup CD, you should be able to overwrite any file on the system drive of the machine (if the partition is not encrypted with BitLocker). The way you described it, you didn't overwrite the correct seth.exe. Perhaps there is more than one Windows installation on the computer?

    Perhaps you didn't copy cmd.exe to the correct folder? I recommend comparing the file sizes of cmd.exe and seth.exe. They should be the same now.


  244. avatar
    Robert Allen 3 years ago


    I just went back to the RE command prompt to look at the directories. It has been A LONG TIME since I have used DOS commands but surprisingly, some of it is coming back to me.

    I found cmd.exe in the D drive, with a size of 345,088, but I did not see sethc.exe. I found it: I had copied it to the C drive instead of the D drive where the other windows files reside. The sethce.exe file that I copied has a size of 279,040.


    If I understand correctly, I should do the following:

    a) copy the original (279kb) sethc.exe file back into the D partition where it belongs in the system32 directory.

    b) overwrite this file by copying the (345kb) cmd.exe file to the now correctly located sethce.exe file. When complete, both the cmd.exe and the sethc.exe files will both be the 345.088kb in size.

    It should work at that point, yes?

    Thank you SOOO much for your help



  245. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    Sounds like a good plan. 🙂


  246. avatar
    Robert Allen 3 years ago

    Ok, sorry, accidentally sent that before finished:

    In the D partition, I now find the following:

    sethc.exe (279kb) the original file
    setc.ex (388kb) I assume the copied cmd.exe file?
    sethc.ex (388 kb) also the copied cmd.exe file?

    What should I do, and how do I do it?


  247. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    It is difficult to follow where you copied what. I would try this:
    copy /y d:\windows\system32\cmd.exe d:\windows\system32\sethc.exe


  248. avatar
    Robert Allen 3 years ago


    I must have had a few typos, or put things in the wrong directory, but in fact, WHEN I followed your directions and UNDERSTOOD what I was doing, it all worked! Thank you again for your help.



  249. avatar
    decars 3 years ago

    When I do step 3 it says that "the system cannot the path specified", I am running windows 8 and I have 2 drives, I have tried both of them and it did not work, please help, for the love of gaben


  250. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    declars, after you booted from the setup CD, you have to find the system drive of the installation which you want to modify. It is probably on drive D: and the command in step 3 would then be:
    copy dc:\windows\system32\sethc.exe c:\


  251. Profile gravatar of Linley Sharp
    Linley Sharp 3 years ago

    Michael, 4 years after your first post your advice is still rock solid! Salute to you.


  252. avatar
    Patrick Jackman 3 years ago

    I can't copy the files.

    "Access denied.
    0 files copied.:


  253. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    Linley, thanks. 🙂

    Patrick, did you boot from the Windows DVD?


  254. avatar
    jerry 3 years ago

    Michael. The sticky keys trick worked great on a Windows laptop! I used the trick along with a Knoppix boot disk to reset the admin account of a brother-in-law who died suddenly with a will but without a list of his passwords. Your advice made a tragic situation a little more bearable for a grieving family. Thank you. Jerry S.


  255. avatar
    Jeff Tan 3 years ago

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the guide.
    May i know is there any fix to prevent this?


  256. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    Jeff, there are few things you can do prevent password reset hacks.


  257. avatar
    Jeff Tan 3 years ago

    Hi Michael,
    Thanks for reply!
    Restrict physical access - not suitable, because the machines are for student to access.
    Encrypt the system drive with BitLocker - not suitable, as we aren't trying to protect data in this case.
    Change BIOS settings - This one OK.
    Use the SysKey utility - not suitable, because the machines are for student to access.
    You may add this to one of the preventive measurement, which is disable sticky key, you can refer here: http://blog.duklabs.com/?p=96


  258. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    I worked for a University and we had all our student PCs in cages. No big deal. The cages are cheap. BitLocker is suitable because it is the best protection against password reset hacks. I think your solution doesn't really help because it doesn't protect against other password reset hacks. This one or this one for example.


  259. avatar
    Brittany 3 years ago

    Well for people like myself who are not very tech savvy...this sounds like chinese.. way to confusing..is there an easier step by step you can help me with please? I am so lost...


  260. avatar
    martin macrae 3 years ago

    thanks for the hack,
    re-selling old donated machines here, so it was very useful for one I could not guess the password.


  261. avatar
    martin macrae 3 years ago

    ...and dont forget to revert cmd.exe back afterwards.


  262. avatar
    RACHIT 3 years ago

    The trick which you have told us (ctrl + alt + del) is not working on window 7 home basic.
    I am requesting you please tell me trick for window 7 home basic because you have told the trick for window 7 ultimate.


  263. avatar
    rahul 3 years ago



  264. avatar
    Bedanta Gogoi 3 years ago

    Thank You so much...I have looking for a suitable answer to how to load win 7 coz' after starting it would stuck on the logo but then I restarted and then got the system recovery options, clicked the command prompt and typed copy /y c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe


  265. avatar
    Catherine Benedetto 3 years ago

    how do i do this if i'm forced to log in to a user that is not an administrator? I have to choices upon booting up: cathy and rob . cathy is the administrator but that is the password we forgot. so when i log as rob, i can get to the command prompt but it shows c:Users\Rob>
    if i type in the above commands it doesn't find it. i have original windows 7 o/s disk
    please help . i have hours into this now 🙁


  266. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    Catherine, if you follow the procedure described in the article you don't have to log on at all to reset the password. It sounds as if you didn't really boot from the Windows 7 DVD. Make sure your BIOS / PC setup settings are configured correctly to boot from DVD.


  267. avatar
    Mukesh 3 years ago

    Very awesome trick. Michael you are OS man


  268. avatar
    rebecca 3 years ago

    will I lose everything on the admin account? baby photos! whaaaa! 😉


  269. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    rebecca, if you didn't encrypt them with EFS, your baby photos are safe.


  270. avatar
    rafeeq 3 years ago

    I used 5 times shift key to reset password after resting password here error "the user profile service service failed the logon"
    "User profile can't be loded"


  271. avatar
    Anonymous 3 years ago

    thanks..it works.


  272. avatar
    darth vader 3 years ago

    I got the access to safe command prompt.
    What am i to do after typin'cmd.exe


  273. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    darth vader, you better follow this instructions. I also recommend switching back to the light side of the force. In good light some instructions are easier to read. And I am no sir. I never even met the Queen. 😉


  274. avatar
    arya 3 years ago

    amazzing trick love u guys


  275. avatar
    newbie 3 years ago

    hi sir. nice article. I hv a query. could you please xplain the trick which involves replacing sethc.exe file with cmd.exe . and do these tricks make any permanent changes in pc?


  276. avatar
    suba 3 years ago

    Am totaly zero in computer knowledge..wats a command prompt. I forgot my administrator password. Plz help


  277. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    scuba, if you are zero in computer knowledge, you should find someone who resets the password for you.


  278. avatar
    Ess 3 years ago

    Pls can you give me the format for:
    username; bob joe
    password; 1234

    I tried; net user bob joe 1234 but it is giving me error.


  279. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

    Ess, the user name should be in quotes because it contains a blank. Try this net user "bob joe" 1234

    And you might want to set a better password.


  280. avatar
    ess 3 years ago

    Thanks Michael. Sure I won't use that as my pwd, it was just a sample.


  281. avatar
    Clark ericksen 3 years ago

    OK I Know that I definitely am far from being close to computer smart but I thought until now that at least I thought I was somewhat at least computer literate but after trying to figure out what you are attempting to explain or show me would be so Confusing no offense but for some reason I can't seem for the life of me figure out how to reset my administrative password cause I'm still locked out of my computer that I love so much. I have windows 7 just a copy though that was downloaded onto my computer before our having my desktop computer from p c laptops but is only a copy it let's me know almost every day once or twice at least but most days tons more. any ways I do have windows 8 purchased but not yet downloaded because I was told it wasn't near as good as windows 7 for graphics design and what not. Can anyone please
    take the time to please help me one easy step after one easy step so that I can get back to work and play thanks / Clark ericksen a very frustrated impatient Crazy simple ordinary person and guess I'm somewhat retarded also lol!


  282. avatar
    Neil 3 years ago

    I have tried this "sticky keys" method on my Windows 7 however there is no sethc.exe file in my system32 folder, even if I copy the cmd.ex as sethc.exe and hit shift 5 times at the login I only get the "sticky keys" window not a cmd promt window, is it possible the sethc is residing elsewhere or has a different name?


  283. avatar
    stanley 3 years ago

    hi all,
    i would like to ask, im using window 7 home basic, i cannot enable the administrator account even though i run in safe mode with command prompt. i have tried net user administrator /active:yes, searching for secpol. and 000001F4 but still not find the solution. I'm guiding friends through team viewer and it is hard to solve it.


  284. avatar
    jon 2 years ago

    thanks works a treat win7-32

    Stanley : if still a problem get into control panel, then user accounts (it's probably something in there)

    Clark : if i have a moment later i'll type the above into 'n00b', or 'mother proof' as i tend to prefer.


  285. avatar
    Mike 2 years ago

    trying to put things back
    after typing in copy /y c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe
    it says the process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process.


  286. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte
    Michael Pietroforte 2 years ago

    Mike, you have to boot again from the DVD and the correct command to restore sethc.exe is this: copy /y c:\setchc.exe c:\windows\system32\


  287. avatar
    Anonymous 2 years ago

    My brother has blocked the restart hack


  288. avatar
    shadrack mauta 2 years ago

    Trully amazing!!! It U are the best


  289. avatar
    selina 2 years ago

    please help me...I changed my password and I can't remember it...I use an HP laptop windows 8 with processor being AMD A4-4300M with radeon...system type is 64bit O.S, ×64 based processor..I don't want to loose my stuffs:'(....


  290. avatar
    Vinod, R.V. 2 years ago

    This worked excellently well. It saved a lot of time and loosing the programs. Thank you for the tip


  291. avatar
    wendy 2 years ago

    Hi ive followed these instructions and ive tried c .d. And many more and all it says is message 2221 and nothing more.i carnt find any device.sorry this is all new to me


  292. avatar
    Dinesh 2 years ago

    very nice... useful post.. working


  293. avatar
    beedee 2 years ago

    In user name ,can we name whatever we want??i have tried like this and much more but i does not work
    c:\windows\system22\>net user[beedee]* and it said that this is not found in internal and external


  294. avatar
    Muhammad Kashif 2 years ago

    Hey Michael
    Thank you for sharing helpful post.. It really saved me from big problem.

    Muhammad Kashif
    Electrical Engineer


  295. avatar
    Phil 2 years ago

    Great trick, thx


  296. avatar
    hesham 2 years ago

    Really useful method and I tried before with windows 7, but how I can do this with windows 10, please answer me


  297. Profile gravatar of Michael Pietroforte Author
    Michael Pietroforte 2 years ago

    hesham, the procedure also works in Windows 10. Read this.


  298. avatar
    Natalie 1 year ago

    I went through all the steps, however when I restarted and hit the shift key 5 times at login, nothing happened.  Help


  299. avatar
    F 1 year ago

    Too many years at this Job. This is the best solution. Not Kidding!!

    Thanks for teaching!



  300. avatar
    ShareBahn 10 months ago

    net user does not display the users on my domain pc, only the guest, what's the solution in this case to logon locally on the pc using the domain username but a local password?


  301. avatar
    KaCee Williams 8 months ago

    I did everything right but when I tried to log in it says the user profile service service failed the logon. user profile cannot be loaded. please help me, idk what to do


  302. avatar
    STRONG 7 months ago

    pls what do I do

    I saw user name {password : *} /ADD [options] [DOMAIN]



  303. avatar
    Lew 7 months ago

    Now that I'm do I need to revert it back in case of vulnerability scans, and if so, what are the commands to do so.


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