September 6, 2004
Q: Our computer is running Windows XP and now requires me to log in every time I start it. When I first got it, I didn’t have to log in. How do I put it back to automatically log in like before? — Neil
A: Windows XP is the first home version of Windows that has any real security built into it. Previous versions of Windows could bypass the login screen by pressing the Esc key, but Windows XP requires an actual login for security purposes.
When you first got your computer, it was likely set up with only one "profile," or user name. If you have added any new profiles or activated the Guest profile, then by default, Windows XP will ask you to choose a profile from the Welcome screen at startup.
If you don’t need the multiple profiles, you can return to the "auto login" configuration by removing all but the original username.
To access your user accounts, click on Start then on Control Panel and look for the User Accounts icon.
Once you open the User Accounts interface, all of the current profiles including the Guest profile should be listed. Click on any of the profiles that you want to remove, and then click the Delete the Account option at the bottom.
The original Computer Administrator account will not have a delete option, so it should be the only one remaining (besides the disabled Guest account).
If you want to keep multiple profiles but still want your machine to log in automatically to a specific account, you can download a utility called TweakUI from the Microsoft Web site that will let you do just that.
TweakUI is an unsupported utility that is listed as one of the PowerToys for Windows XP. This means that if you have any questions or problems, Microsoft will not offer any support for it.
Once you have installed TweakUI, double-click the Logon option then click onto the Autologon option. From this screen, you can click the "Log on automatically at system startup" checkbox and provide the username and password required to logon.
In addition to managing login settings, TweakUI gives additional access to setting for your mouse, desktop, taskbar, start menu and much more.
One of my favorite tweaks is the X-mouse setting that changes how the mouse selects a window as the active window. Normally, when you have multiple windows open, you must click on the one that you want to work with to activate it. With the X-Mouse setting activated, you simply float your mouse over the window that you want to work with and it automatically makes it the active window.
If you decide to activate this setting, be sure to also activate the Autoraise option (to make any window that you move the mouse over come to the front) and set an activation delay of at least 200 milliseconds so that activation is not instantaneous.
Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the "Computer Corner" radio show Saturdays at noon on KTAR (620 AM).