Why grapple with passwords and PINs to sign into Windows when you can more easily turn to facial or fingerprint recognition?
When signing into Windows, a password is the default option. But remembering a strong and complex password can be a hassle. Instead, try biometric technologies through the Windows Hello feature in Windows 10 and Windows 11. Before you can set this up, however, you need to make sure that your hardware supports the ability to scan your face or fingerprint. Here’s how to ditch the password and get started with Windows Hello.
Set Up a PIN
Before you can enable fingerprint or facial recognition, you need to create a PIN to sign into Windows. To do this in Windows 10, go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Select Windows Hello PIN and click Add.
Click Next, then authenticate your account by entering your password (or using another authentication method). You can then enter your PIN. By default, the PIN can only include numbers.
If you wish to use letters or special characters or view the requirements for a PIN, check the box next to Include letters and symbols. You can then click the PIN requirements link, if you wish. Type and confirm your PIN and then click OK. You’re told that your PIN is all set up to sign into Windows, apps, and services.
To set up your PIN in Windows 11, go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options and select PIN (Windows Hello), then click the Set up button. Click Next, then authenticate your account.
Check the box next to Include letters and symbols if you would like to use more than just numbers. You can then click the PIN requirements link, if you wish. Type and then confirm your PIN and click OK.
Set Up Fingerprint Recognition
Many laptops come with fingerprint readers that work with Windows Hello. If you’re purchasing a new laptop, just check the listed features to see if a fingerprint reader is built into the device, and if it’s compatible with Windows Hello. If your laptop has a fingerprint scanner, review the specs in the user guide.
For a desktop computer or a laptop without a built-in fingerprint reader, you can add an external device. Many vendors sell fingerprint scanners that connect to a USB port, or that are built into peripherals like your keyboard. Your best bet is to run a search on an online retail site, such as Amazon, for “fingerprint readers(Opens in a new window),” “fingerprint scanners(Opens in a new window)” or “Windows Hello fingerprint(Opens in a new window).”
Using an internal fingerprint reader is just a matter of making sure it’s activated in the BIOS. Using an external reader with your desktop or laptop is typically a plug-and-play process. In either case, your PC should simply recognize the reader and allow it to work in Windows.
To set up your fingerprint reader in Windows 10, go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options, then choose Windows Hello Fingerprint and click the Set up button. Read the Welcome to Windows Hello screen and click the link for Learn more if you wish to find out more about Windows Hello.
Click the Get started button, then enter your PIN. Now touch the fingerprint scanner. Follow the instructions to lift and rest your finger until the setup is complete.
When done, you’re told that you can use your fingerprint the next time you want to unlock your device. At this point, you can add another fingerprint if you wish.
To set up your fingerprint reader in Windows 11, go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options, then click the Fingerprint recognition (Windows Hello) button.
Click the Set up button, then select Get started and enter your PIN. Follow the steps to lift and rest your finger until the setup is complete. When done, you can then add another fingerprint.
Set Up Facial Recognition
Most laptops come with webcams, but not necessarily ones compatible with Windows Hello. If you’re in the market for a new laptop, check the features to see if the included camera works with Windows Hello.
You can also add a compatible webcam to your existing computer. To find one, run a search online for “Windows Hello webcam(Opens in a new window).” Logitech offers a good series of suitable webcams, including the Logitech Brio 4K Webcam. Other manufacturers make more budget-minded products that will also play nice with Windows Hello.
To set up facial recognition in Windows 10, go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Choose the setting for Windows Hello Face, then click the Set up button.
Click Get started, then type your PIN. Look at your camera while your face is scanned. When done, you’re told that you can use your face the next time you want to unlock your device.
If you wore glasses during the scan and want to take another scan without them, remove your glasses and click the Improve recognition link. A second scan will then be run.
You can set up facial recognition in Windows 11 by going to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Click the setting for Facial Recognition (Windows Hello) and then click Set up.
Click Get started and type your PIN. Position your face to let the scan run. If you need to conduct a second scan, such as if you want to be scanned with our without your glasses, click the Improve recognition link.
Remove Windows Password
Once you have enabled Windows Hello, you can remove the password option completely. Go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Scroll down to the section for Additional settings and enable For improved security, only allow Windows Hello sign-in for Microsoft accounts on this device.
When this setting is enabled, the password option will not appear at the login screen, so you would only be able to sign in with your face, fingerprint, or PIN. This means if someone is able to obtain your password, they would still not be able to log into Windows on your PC
One disadvantage to this option is that if biometric authorization ever fails, you would not be able to use your password as a fallback. However, you could still sign in with your PIN.
How to Sign In With Windows Hello
The next time you’re at the Windows login screen, click the Sign-in options link. Choose the method you wish to use for signing in, such as Face for facial recognition and Fingerprint for fingerprint recognition. Authenticate your identity through your method of choice, and you will be sign into Windows.