How to manage your security questions for a local Windows account

Update security questions and answers for a local Windows account

Choose to set up Windows 10 or 11 with a local account, and you’ll be prompted to select three security questions to answer if you’re ever blocked from accessing. These questions include typical questions, such as your first pet’s name, your older cousin’s first name, and your first school name. But you can always change these questions and their answers if you don’t like the initial questions. This option is easily accessible in Windows 10 but not in Windows 11. Here’s how the process works.

You first see the option to create an account early in Windows setup. Of course, Microsoft wants you to use a Microsoft account so the company doesn’t make it easy to choose a local account instead. But it is doable and works the same way in Windows 10 and 11.

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Create a local account

  1. On the screen asking how you would like to set up Windows, select the Set up for personal use option.
  2. The next screen is where you’ll start heading to a local account. In Windows 10, select an offline account. In Windows 11, select Sign-in options and then select Offline account.
  3. On the next screen, Microsoft does its best to point you away from a local account. But stay strong. In Windows 10, select Limited experience. In Windows 11, select Skip now.
  4. Well, now you can finally enter the name you want to use for your local account. Create a password and then confirm it.

Choose your security questions and answers

And that brings us to the security questions, which Microsoft asks you to prepare at this point.

  1. Choose the first security question and then type an answer. Choose and answer your second question and then do the same for the third and final question.
Set up your questions and answers for a local Windows account

2. Finish the setup reset and after that you will be logged into Windows with your local account.

Switch to a local account

Besides choosing a local account from scratch, you can switch to a local account if you’re already using a Microsoft account to sign in to Windows.

  1. In Windows 10 or 11, go to Settings > Accounts > Your Information.
  2. Click the link to sign in with a local account instead. Of course, you are asked if you are sure you want to switch to a local account. Click Next to confirm.
  3. Enter your Microsoft account PIN. Create a password for your new local account. Sign out and then sign back in with your new local account.

Well, now there are two problems. Note that when you switch to a local account, you will not be prompted to create security questions. This means that you have to choose to do it yourself. Other than that, if you need to reset your password, the only option available is to use a recovery drive, which you probably haven’t set up either.

And even if you choose a local account during the initial Windows setup, what if you have other ideas about your security questions at some point? You probably think it’s too easy to guess at least one answer. Or maybe you want to change one of the questions. Can you update it? Let’s try this in Windows 10 and then in Windows 11.

Update your questions and answers in Windows 10

  1. In Windows 10, go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Click on the password option. Then click Update your security questions.
Reset your security questions and answers in Windows 10

2. In the pop-up window, type your local account password and click OK. You can now choose different questions and answers for each of the three items. When finished, click Finish.

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Update questions and answers

Update your questions and answers in Windows 11

Now, let’s try the same in Windows 11.

  1. go to the Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Click on the password option. Excuse me. There is no option to update your security questions. For whatever reason, whether you forgot or didn’t care about local accounts, Microsoft neglected to provide Windows 11 with an explicit way to change your security questions and answers. But do not worry. There is an unsupported workaround although it is perfectly usable.
  2. Hold the Windows key and press R to launch the Run dialog box. In the Open field, type the following string: ms-cxh: // setsqsalocalonly.
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Reset questions and answers in Windows 11

3. You will then be asked to type in your local account password. You can now update each of the three security questions and their answers. Type finish when done.

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Update questions and answers in Windows 11

Answer the security questions to reset your password

Now let’s say there comes a time when you forget your local Windows account password, either in Windows 10 or 11. You’ve tried several different passwords, but no response. You are stuck at the login screen and there is no way to enter.

  1. Click on the password reset link. Your Security Questions window pops up. Answer each of the three questions. Then click the right arrow next to the third answer.
Answer the security questions

2. Type and retype the new local password, and click the right arrow. And you are now. But this time, try to remember your password.

Create a new password