A PIN is an additional security feature available in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 to protect your user account and all the sensitive data inside it. When enabled, it can be entered instead of the password. Unlike a password, a PIN does not require the user to even press the Enter key and it can be a short 4 digit number. Once you enter the correct PIN, you will be signed in to your Windows 10 account immediately.
The main difference between a PIN and a password is the device on which they can be used.
- While you can use your password to sign in to your Microsoft account from any device and any network, a PIN can only be used with one device where you created it. Think of it as a password for a local (non-Microsoft) account.
- When you are signing in with a password on a device which is online, it is transmitted to Microsoft's servers for verification. A PIN won't be sent anywhere and truly acts like a local password stored on your PC.
- If your device comes with a TPM module, the PIN will be protected and encrypted additionally thanks to the TPM hardware support. For example, it will protect against PIN brute-force attacks. After too many incorrect guesses, the device will become locked.
However, a PIN does not replace the password. To set up a PIN, it is necessary to have a password set for your user account.
Note: if you need to start the computer in Safe Mode, the PIN does not work. Keep this in mind.
Add a PIN to a User Account in Windows 10
Do the following.
- Open Settings.
- Go to Accounts\Sign-in options.
- On the right side, click the Add button under the PIN section. See the following screenshot:
- The account password verification dialog will appear on the screen. There, enter your current password and click the OK button.
- In the next dialog, you can set up your PIN. Enter at least a minimum of 4 digits when prompted:
Enter your PIN and you are done.
Click the key icon to sign in using the password. The icon with multiple dots will switch you back to entering the PIN.