Hiding an Account from the Welcome Screen

A Windows XP system that isn't part of a domain shows available accounts on its welcome screen which you see at system startup. On the left side of the screen, you see "To begin, click your user name". On the right side of the screen you see the available accounts with a picture next to them. There may be cases where you don't want an account to appear on the welcome screen. For instance, I normally create an administrator account for myself on systems I manage, but there's no need for the user to see that account, so I make it a "hidden" account. I can still log into the account, but it isn't shown on the list of accounts displayed on the welcome screen. If an account is "hidden" you can hit Ctrl-Alt-Del twice in succession to get a window where you can put in the userid and password for the hidden account. Make sure you are hitting all 3 keys at the same time to bring up the window.

You need to edit the registry to make an account a "hidden" account. The registry change is quite simple, but as always when editing the registry, you need to be careful, since mistakes in editing the registry can render a system unbootable. To make the needed registry change for the account, take the following steps:

  1. Click on Start.

  2. Click on Run.

  3. Type regedit and hit enter, which will open the regedit program.

  4. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\SpecialAccounts\Userlist.
  5. Regedit - Before

  6. Right-click on the UserList folder label on the left side of the window and select New and then DWORD value. Note: You can expand a folder that has a plus sign to the left of it by clicking on the plus sign or double-clicking on the folder name.

  7. You'll see the new entry in the right pane of the window, rename this value, which by default will be labelled "New Value #1", to the name of the user account you want hidden. It should be exactly how it is listed on the welcome screen you see when the system starts. Leave the value at 0.
  8. You can then close the registry editor by clicking on File then Exit.

  9. Now when you logoff, you shouldn't see the hidden account on the welcome screen. If you still see it, reboot. You can still log into the account by hitting the Ctrl, Alt, and Del keys simultaneously twice in succession.

One note of warning, make sure that at least one account remains unhidden. If you hide all of the accounts that would appear on the welcome screen, you may find the PC rebooting continually. If that happens, boot into Safe mode. You can do so by hitting the F8 key as the system starts. Be sure to do it before you see the Windows screen, i.e. start hitting F8 after the BIOS or manufacturer's splash screen appears. When the system boots into safe mode, run F8 again and either delete the registry entry you created or change its value from 0 to 1.

If you ever want to unhide the account for any reason, e.g. perhaps to change the password for the account, all you have to do is delete the registry key or change its value to 1.


  1. Tip #229 - Hidden User Account