Simple Questions: What is the Guest Account & How to Turn it On?

When someone is visiting for a while and they need access to your Windows computer or tablet, you don't have to create a new user account for them, and you definitely should not give them your user account details. The best solution is to enable the Guest account in Windows and have them use it. This will keep your private files or system settings safe. In this guide we will explain what a Guest account is and how to turn it on in Windows 7 and Windows 8. We will end this guide by also sharing how to turn it off when you no longer need it.

What is the Guest User Account in Windows?

The Guest account in Windows is a local user account with very limited permissions. It has the following restrictions:

  • It doesn't have a password and passwords cannot be set for it.
  • It cannot install apps, desktop programs or hardware devices.
  • It can use only the apps and desktop programs that were installed on your PC or device, when the Guest account was enabled.
  • It cannot change its account type, name or picture.
  • It cannot change the settings of other user accounts.
  • It cannot access the libraries and user folders of other user accounts.
  • It can create files only on the Desktop and its user folders. It cannot create folders and files anywhere else on your PC or device.
  • The Guest user account can be enabled or disabled only by an administrator.

Sounds perfect doesn't it? When guests want to use my computer, the Guest account allows them to browse the web, go to Facebook or YouTube while keeping my settings, work and files private from prying eyes.

How to Enable the Guest Account in Windows 7 & Windows 8

First log in with a user account that is an administrator on your Windows PC or device. Then, open the Control Panel and go to "User Accounts and Family Safety".

Here, click or tap the User Accounts section.

In the User Accounts window you will find lots of options for editing your user account.

To enable the Guest account click or tap the link that says "Manage another account".

Now you see a list with all the user accounts found on your Windows PC or device. Select the Guest account.

You are asked whether you would like to turn on the Guest account. Press the Turn On button.

You are back to the Manage Accounts window. Close it!
Now you can start using the Guest account.

How to Sign In & Use the Guest Account

Sign out from your user account and go to the sign in screen. In Windows 8, you will see the Guest user displayed near all the other user accounts that are available.

In Windows 7, the sign in screen looks different but you will find the Guest account listed there too.

Select Guest to sign in. No password is required. When you sign in for the first time, Windows takes some time to prepare this user account, its apps and settings.

When done, you will see the Start screen in Windows 8 and the Desktop in Windows 7.

You can use the apps and desktop programs that are already installed and you can't install anything new. While the Desktop looks the same in both Windows versions, the Start screen in Windows 8 is very different for the Guest account. It includes only 5 tiles. Luckily, you can customize it and add new tiles to it, for all the apps that are available.

How to Disable the Guest Account

To disable the Guest account, sign out from it and log in with a user account that is administrator on your Windows PC or device.

Go to "Control Panel -> User Accounts and Family Safety -> User Accounts" as shown in the section about enabling the Guest account. Click or tap the link that says "Manage another account" and then select Guest.

You have only one option that says "Turn off the guest account". Click or tap on it.

The Guest account is now disabled and all its data is deleted. You are back to the Manage Accounts window.

Conclusion

Before you close this article, don't hesitate to experiment with using the Guest account in Windows and share your impressions about this type of user accounts. Do you consider it useful? Does it work well?