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Banish that pesky Windows Logon


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 14, 1998

I've been asked many questions in the Solutions column, but without a doubt the one recurring problem that seems to generate more frustration is the Windows Logon -- and how to make it disappear for good.

Despite several answers that explain how to get rid of it, it would just not go away for some people. I'll try to cover all possible angles here -- and with some luck those haunted by this nuisance finally will be liberated. And, if somehow it still won't go away, I'll tell you about a free "add-in" that will absolutely do the trick.

Let's start with what the Windows Logon window is meant to accomplish. Contrary to what some people think, the Windows Logon itself has nothing to do about securing any part of the PC. Remember, you can always boot from a floppy and have free reign on the hard drive. Besides, all you have to do is click the Cancel button on the Logon box and Windows logs you on anyway with the default settings. The Windows Logon serves two purposes: One is to provide a validation to either an NT and/or Novell (among others) server-based network. The other is to allow for personal environment settings (desktop icons, background wallpaper, sounds). That is it.

So if you are the typical home PC user, are not connected to a network and don't need to differentiate the environment settings with other users of your PC, there is no reason to have the Windows Logon. But you already knew that -- you just want it to go away.

Our first stop is the Network Neighborhood. If your PC was once connected to a network (a lot of computer stores do this when they copy your old PC's hard drive to your newly purchased PC) you may be getting the Windows Network Logon box.

Right-click the desktop's Network Neighborhood icon and select Properties (or open the Control Panel and double-click Networks). On the Configuration tab, under Primary Network Logon, click the down arrow and select Windows Logon. Click OK, then click Yes to restart your computer. That should take care of the Network Logon box.

Still getting the Windows Logon box? Here is how to get rid of this one: In the Control Panel, double-click Passwords. Click the User Profiles tab and make sure that the "All users of this PC use the same preference and desktop settings" option is selected. If it is not, all you need to do is select it and reboot.

Sometimes the Logon Window still appears. In this case, double-click the Passwords icon in Control Panel again, click the Change Passwords tab and click the Change Windows Password button. Type the Old password, press Tab to the New password field, then press Enter (leaving it blank).

You'll see a dialog box telling you that the password has been changed successfully. Click OK, click Close, restart Windows 95, the Logon box should now be gone. Still getting the Windows Logon box? Calm down -- maybe it is a corrupt PWL file. Windows stores your password in a file that has the extension PWL. The first part of the file name will be the same as your user name. For example, if your user name is John, then your password will be stored in a file called JOHN.PWL.

You'll find this file in the Windows folder. To remove the password prompt, begin by deleting your PWL file. Next, restart your system, and you'll see the Enter Windows Password dialog box. At this point, simply click OK -- don't type anything in the Password text box. You'll never be prompted for a password again.

What? You're still getting the Windows Logon box? Okay, for those of you whose PC seems to defy all known solutions, here is the sure-fire way of getting that Windows Logon box to disappear.

It requires the Microsoft utility Tweak UI. Once installed, run the utility and from the Network tab specify a log-in name and password to enter upon log-in. Tweak UI then apparently modifies the Registry so that Windows runs a log-in "script" upon startup and enters this information automatically.

You can download Tweak UI for free from Microsoft's Web site (www.microsoft.com/windows95/info/powertoys.htm).

For Windows 98 users, Tweak UI can be found on the Windows 98 CD in the Tools/ResKit/PowerToy folder. Right-click tweakui.inf and click Install.
-- John Torro writes about software and hardware issues for Tech Times. He is a systems engineer for a software company and is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Microsoft Certified Solution Developer.

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