HomeWinBuzzer TipsForgot Your Windows Hello PIN? Here's How to Remove and Reset It

Forgot Your Windows Hello PIN? Here’s How to Remove and Reset It

Forgot your Windows 10 PIN? We show you how to remove and reset it from both the login screen and Windows Settings.

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It’s happened to the best of us. You boot up your PC, only to stare blankly at the log-in screen and realize that somewhere, at some point, you forgot your Windows 11 or Windows 10 PIN. Thankfully, this isn’t as big a deal as you might expect. Microsoft is aware that memory is fallible and has provided a way to remove and reset your Windows 11 or Windows 10 PIN. We’re going to guide you through it step-by-step.

How do Windows PINs work?

Windows Hello is Microsoft’s overarching term for its password-less sign-in options, including biometrics, but also the humble PIN. You can have a separate PIN for each device, which in theory makes it better than your Microsoft account password, but also makes it easier to forget.

Unlike a password, the Windows PIN isn’t transmitted anywhere – it instead unlocks an authentication key, and that’s what’s sent for authentication. This security is often backed up by a hardware TPM chip. Unfortunately, all this means that if you forgot your PIN, you won’t be able to recover it and can’t reset it via the web. However, you can reset your Windows 11 or Windows 10 PIN from your local device. We’re going to show you how to remove your Windows PIN and set a new one in just a couple of minutes:

How to Remove and Reset Your Windows PIN from the Login Screen (Windows 11 and Windows 10)

Though it can be easier, there’s no need to sign in to Windows 11 / Windows 10 to reset your PIN. Depending on your account security, you can use your password and a backup phone, email, or authenticator app to verify your identity from the lock screen. You should only use this method if you’ve truly forgotten your PIN. If you just want to change it, go to the second tutorial on this page.

  1. Press “I forgot my PIN”


    The Windows 10 log-in screen always displays the “I forgot my PIN” feature above the Sign-in options. Click it to start the process.

    Windows 10 - Login - I forgot my PIN

  2. Enter your password


    You’ll be prompted to enter your account password. This should be the same as your Microsoft account/Outlook login. Type it and press “Sign in”.

    Windows 10 - Login - I forgot my PIN - Enter Password

  3. Verify your identity


    If you have two-factor authentication enabled for your account (and you really should) verify your identity via your chosen method. For us, it’s a text message, but it could also be an email or from the authenticator app on your phone.

    Windows 10 - Login - I forgot my PIN - Verify your identity

  4. Enter your mobile number


    If you chose to receive a code by mobile number, enter the last four digits of the phone number associated with your account here and click “Send code”.

    Windows 10 - Login - I forgot my PIN - Verify your phone number

  5. Enter the verification code


    Type the code you received via text, email, or app, and press “Verify”.

    Windows 10 - Login - I forgot my PIN - Enter code

  6. Read the small print


    Microsoft will now warn you of the dangers of resetting your PIN. Long story short, you might have to sign in to your account again in various apps and you could lose data if that’s managed by your organization. If you just want to change your PIN to be more memorable, check the tutorial below instead. Once you’re happy, click “Continue”

    Windows 10 - Login - reset PIN - confirmation

  7. Choose a new PIN


    Now that you have removed your Windows 11 / Windows 10 PIN, Microsoft will prompt you to choose another. Though you forgot it last time, it’s still best to avoid anything obvious. Your day and month of birth, 1234, and 1111 are not good choices. For extra security, you can tick the “Include letters and symbols” box. Once you’re happy, click “OK” and log into your account with your new PIN.

    Windows 10 - Login - I forgot my PIN - Enter new PIN

How to Reset or Change Your Windows 10 PIN from Settings

If you can still log in to Windows, resetting or removing it is even easier. As you still have access to your OS via password, it’s as simple as a few buttons in the settings menu. This is also the route you should take if you haven’t forgotten your Windows 11 PIN and want to change it to something more secure and memorable.

  1. Open Account Settings


    Press “Windows + I” to open settings and switch to “Accounts”.
     
    Windows 11 - Settings - open Accounts

  2. Open Sign-in options
     

    Windows 11 - Settings - Accounts - open Sign-in options

  3. Click ‘Forgot’ or ‘Change’


    Expand “PIN (Windows Hello)” and click “I forgot my PIN”. If you still know your old PIN, click “Change” instead.
     
    Windows 11 - Settings - Accounts - Sign-in options

  4. Read the small print


    If you’re resetting your PIN, Windows 11 will now warn you that doing so may log you out of some applications and that you could lose some data managed by your organization. If you’re okay with that, press “Continue”.

    Windows 10 - Settings - Reset PIN - confirmation

  5. Enter your password


    Type the password for your Microsoft account and press “Sign in”.

    Windows 10 - Reset PIN - Enter Password

  6. Enter your new PIN


    Choose a new and secure PIN, ticking “Include letters and symbols” if you’d like some extra security. Then click “OK”.

    Windows 10 - Settings - Set up a PIN

How to Reset or Change Your Windows 10 PIN from Settings

If you can still log in to Windows, resetting or removing it is even easier. As you still have access to your OS via password, it’s as simple as a few buttons in the settings menu. This is also the route you should take if you haven’t forgotten your Windows 10 PIN and want to change it to something more secure and memorable.

  1. Open Account Settings


    Press “Windows + I” to open settings and click on “Accounts”.

    Windows 10 - Settings

  2. Click ‘Forgot’ or ‘Change’


    In the accounts menu, select “Sign-in options” from the sidebar, look for “Windows Hello PIN”, click it, and click “I forgot my PIN”. If you still know your old PIN, click “Change” instead.

    Windows 10 - Settings - Accounts - Sign-in options - I forgot my PIN

  3. Read the small print


    If you’re resetting your PIN, Windows 10 will now warn you that doing so may log you out of some applications and that you could lose some data managed by your organization. If you’re okay with that, press “Continue”.

    Windows 10 - Settings - Reset PIN - confirmation

  4. Enter your password


    Type the password for your Microsoft account and press “Sign in”.

    Windows 10 - Reset PIN - Enter Password

  5. Enter your new PIN


    Choose a new and secure PIN, ticking “Include letters and symbols” if you’d like some extra security. Then click “OK”.

    Windows 10 - Settings - Set up a PIN

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About Resetting The Windows PIN

What should I do if the “I forgot my PIN” option doesn’t appear on the login screen?

If the “I forgot my PIN” option is missing, start by restarting your device, as this can often resolve temporary issues. If the option still doesn’t appear, you may need to use an alternative sign-in method, such as a password or biometric option if set up. In cases where no other sign-in options are available, you might consider using Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) to access recovery options that could help restore access to your account or reset your device. It’s also worth checking for any pending Windows updates in case this is a known issue that has been addressed by Microsoft.

Can I still access my device if I don’t have a backup phone, email, or authenticator app linked to my Microsoft account?

Accessing your device without a backup recovery option can be difficult. Initially, try any other available sign-in methods, such as a security question or a physical security key if you’ve set one up previously. If you’re locked out with no other options, you might need to use another device to visit the Microsoft account recovery page to attempt to update or add new security information, though this may require you to verify your identity in other ways. In extreme cases, a system reset might be necessary, which could result in data loss if you haven’t backed up your files, so it’s recommended to always have a recovery option and regular backups.

How can I enhance the security of my Windows PIN?

Enhancing your Windows PIN security involves creating a PIN that is difficult for others to guess but easy for you to remember. Use a combination of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols to increase complexity. Avoid using personal information such as birthdays, addresses, or sequential numbers. Consider using a passphrase converted into a PIN, where each letter of a memorable phrase corresponds to a number on a phone keypad. Regularly updating your PIN and ensuring it differs from other PINs or passwords you use for banking or online accounts also helps maintain security.

What happens to my encrypted files if I reset my PIN?

Resetting your Windows Hello PIN should not affect encrypted files directly, as file encryption keys are tied to your device and user account, not your PIN specifically. However, if you use features like BitLocker, ensure you have a backup of your recovery key, as you might need it to access the encrypted drive, especially if you’re resetting the PIN due to account access issues. It’s good practice to store your BitLocker recovery key in a secure place separate from your device, such as in a secure cloud storage or printed out and kept in a safe location.

Is there a way to disable the PIN requirement entirely?

To disable the PIN requirement, navigate to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Under the PIN section, you’ll find an option to remove it. Removing the PIN will require you to choose an alternative sign-in method, such as a traditional password or biometric sign-in, if your device supports it. Keep in mind that removing the PIN may reduce the convenience of signing in, especially on devices that do not support biometric authentication. Before removing your PIN, ensure you remember your password or have another sign-in method set up to avoid being locked out of your device.

Can I use a Windows Hello PIN with a local account, or is it only for Microsoft accounts?

Windows Hello PIN is available for both Microsoft and local accounts. For local accounts, the setup process is contained entirely on your device. To set up or change your PIN for a local account, go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options, and under PIN (Windows Hello), you can add, change, or remove your PIN. This makes the PIN a versatile option for enhancing security, whether you’re using a Microsoft account linked to various services or a local account for device-specific access.

What’s the recommended length for a secure Windows PIN?

While the minimum recommended length for a PIN is four digits, for enhanced security, a PIN of 6-8 characters is advisable, especially if you include letters and symbols in addition to numbers. The complexity and length of your PIN should balance security with memorability. Using a passphrase acronym, mixing in numbers and special characters, and avoiding common patterns or repeated characters can all help make your PIN more secure while keeping it manageable.

How often should I change my Windows PIN?

Changing your Windows PIN periodically can help maintain security, but there’s no one-size-fits-all frequency. A good rule of thumb is to change it every 3-6 months or immediately if you suspect it’s been compromised or shared. However, frequent changes can lead to forgetfulness, so ensure you can remember the new PIN or have a secure method to recover your account if needed. In corporate environments, adhere to your organization’s IT security policies, which may dictate specific requirements for PIN changes.

Can resetting my Windows PIN affect auto-login settings for apps and services?

Resetting your Windows PIN can potentially affect auto-login settings for some apps and services, especially those that use Windows credentials for authentication. After resetting your PIN, you may need to re-enter your credentials for these services. This is particularly true for apps and services that rely on single sign-on or have cached your previous sign-in information. To minimize disruptions, check your sign-in settings in critical apps after changing your PIN and update your credentials where necessary.

What should I do if I’ve forgotten both my PIN and Microsoft account password?

If you’ve forgotten both your PIN and Microsoft account password, you’ll need to address the password issue first. Visit the Microsoft password reset page from another device and follow the prompts to recover or reset your password. This process may involve verifying your identity through alternative email addresses, phone numbers, or security questions you’ve set up. Once you’ve regained access to your Microsoft account, you can then proceed to reset your PIN using the options available on your device’s login screen or within the Settings app under Accounts > Sign-in options.

Is it possible to use biometric sign-in options after resetting my PIN?

Yes, after resetting your PIN, you can still set up and use biometric sign-in options, such as facial recognition or fingerprint scanning, provided your device supports these features. In fact, setting up a biometric sign-in can serve as a convenient and secure alternative to using a PIN or password. To set up biometric sign-in, go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options, and under the respective biometric option (e.g., Face, Fingerprint), follow the prompts to configure your biometric data.

How do I update my backup security information for PIN recovery?

To update your backup security information, sign in to your Microsoft account through a web browser. Navigate to the Security section, and under Security basics, you’ll find options to update your security info, including adding or changing backup email addresses, phone numbers, and setting up an authenticator app. Keeping this information up to date is crucial for account recovery processes, including PIN reset scenarios, as it provides alternative methods for verifying your identity.

Can resetting my PIN log me out of linked services or devices?

Resetting your PIN might log you out of certain linked services or devices that rely on Windows credentials for authentication. This is because some services may detect the change in security settings and require re-authentication to ensure the account’s security. After resetting your PIN, it’s a good practice to check the status of your linked services or devices and re-authenticate if necessary to ensure uninterrupted access.

What are the implications of PIN reset in a corporate or enterprise environment?

In a corporate or enterprise environment, resetting your PIN can have broader implications, especially if your device is managed by an IT department and subject to specific security policies. Before attempting a PIN reset, it’s advisable to consult with your IT department or follow the established protocols for such actions. The reset might affect access to corporate resources, require re-authentication on certain services, and could be logged as a security event by your organization’s IT security systems.

How does Windows Hello PIN differ from traditional passwords in terms of security?

Windows Hello PIN offers several security advantages over traditional passwords. Firstly, the PIN is device-specific, meaning it’s only useful on the device it was set up on, reducing the risk associated with compromised passwords that can be used across multiple services. Additionally, the ability to include non-alphanumeric characters and the lack of transmission over the network during the authentication process enhance its security. Furthermore, the PIN works in conjunction with hardware-based security features like TPM (Trusted Platform Module), which securely stores the cryptographic keys associated with the PIN, adding an extra layer of security against attacks.

Extra: How to Change Your Windows Password (Local or Microsoft Account)

It’s good practice to change your Windows password every few months, yet 44% admit to changing passwords once a year or less. As a rule, your Windows account password should be unique, at least 8 characters, and not based around a single word or loved one. In our other guide, we show you how to change a password in Windows for both local and Microsoft accounts and via the Command-line or various in-built apps.
 
How to Change Account Password in Windows 10

Extra: How to Password Protect a Folder in Windows 11 and Windows 10

Protecting your sensitive data in Windows 11 and Windows 10 is crucial, especially if you’re sharing your PC with others or simply want to keep certain information confidential. While Windows 11 and Windows 10 don’t come with a dedicated feature for password-protecting individual folders, there are effective ways to secure your data. In our other guide, We show you how to password-protect a folder in Windows using different methods with built-in and third-party tools.
 

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.