You can setup a local account in Windows 10 during a clean installation, as well as after installing Windows 10 using a Microsoft account. The process is a bit more straightforward than it was with Windows 8.
If you wanted to create a local account in Windows 8.1, Microsoft made you jump through hoops and numerous screens before finally selecting "Sign in without a Microsoft account (not recommended)." Skip down to the second half if you want to know how to create a local account while installing Windows 10.
Create local account after installing Windows 10
Let's say you chose to upgrade to Windows 10 using the "keep personal files and apps" option, and your Microsoft account was connected it, or you entered your Microsoft account along the way during setup. It's not hard to create a local account after you installed Windows 10.
Click on the Start button and select Settings. Open "Accounts." Under "Your account," select the option to "Sign in with a local account instead."
That opens a "Switch to a local account" window that asks you to verify your current Microsoft account password. Then click "Next."
On the next window, enter a user name and password for your local account; you'll start using that user name and password combo when signing into Windows. Click "Next."
The next window has the last step to switch to a local account. By using a local account, you will need to provide your Microsoft account info for any apps that require it later on. Otherwise, from here on out you will use your local account password to sign into Windows. Make sure you saved any work in progress before you "Sign out and finish."
Delete local account in Windows 10
If you later want to delete that local account, go to Settings>Accounts>Your Account and click on "Sign in with a Microsoft account instead." A window will open for you to sign into your Microsoft account.
Then another window will open, asking for your local account password again before deleting that local account.
After clicking "Next," Microsoft prompts you to setup a PIN. You can also choose to skip that step.
Your local account will be deleted. Windows 10 will tell you, "From here on out, you'll unlock this device using the password or PIN you just set up."
If you did install Windows 10 with the option of "keep personal files and apps," then you might like to make a backup copy, as the plan is for it to be automatically removed after 30 days. It's on your Windows 10 drive, most likely on "C" and labeled as "Windows.old." If you don't want it at all because it's taking up too much precious hard drive room, then you can search in the Windows 10 taskbar for "Disk Cleanup" and get rid of it now.
Windows 10 says to verify account due to suspicious activity
According to Control Panel>System and Security>System my "Windows is activated." As you can see in the first screenshot in this article about changing to a local account, there was no request to verify my identity; it had an option to "sign in with a local account instead." After deleting a local account for the purpose of this how-to, Windows 10 account settings said I need to verify my identity on this PC. I wasn't inclined to do so, but I tried it since I'm writing about it.
Detected suspicious activity? Ugh, seriously? Well, in the last 24 hours I've run two clean installs of Windows 10 in Hyper-V, one with "express" settings to see how bad it really is (it's ridiculously bad from a privacy perspective), made numerous screenshots along the way, created local accounts, and made screenshots of all Windows 10 settings for a future article about changing the defaults of "on" and turning almost everything "off." Suspicious? Considering I opted not to share anything more with Microsoft than the minimum that is required by Windows 10, who knows what Microsoft collected that it found "suspicious," as the PC I'm using is the only one I use to sign into Microsoft at all. Grrr.
"Verify" required filling in my email addy on the second line and then entering the security code sent to that address. Then "Verify" went away in Windows 10 account settings.
Create local account while installing Windows 10
If you decide to do a clean install of Windows 10 after using the previous upgrade and "keep files and apps" option, then you need to make sure you have your Windows key. Microsoft hasn't yet provided an easy way to find it yourself, so a third-party app can find it for you; don't be surprised if your security or antivirus software tries to block it as a PUP (potentially unwanted program).
After downloading the Windows 10 media creation tool, running it to create a Windows 10 ISO, and backing up your drivers and possibly programs as well, install Windows 10 by selecting "Custom: Install Windows only."
Eventually, the install screen changes to "It's time to enter the product key" – you can enter it or go down near the bottom left and select "Do this later."
The next important screen urges you to use express settings, but I highly recommend using customize settings and turning almost everything to "off." Keep in mind that by choosing privacy, you will not be able to use about half of Windows 10 features.
In the second screen of customize settings, you can opt to leave SmartScreen on if you don't have another killer security option or you don't want to spend any money to get one. Malwarebytes Premium will also block malicious content and downloads.
The third screen on customize settings will ask, "Who owns this PC?" Let's assume you select "I own it."
"Make it yours" is the next screen, and it's important because this is where you can begin creating a local account during a clean Windows 10 installation. Select "Skip this step."
Now you are given an option to create a local account. Pick a user name and a strong password.
Windows 10 will finish up and you will see your desktop. Like all Windows versions and math problems, there are numerous ways to do things and reach the solution. Clicking on the Start button for the first time after you customized your settings and created a local account looks something like this:
You can see it's a local account in Control Panel>User Accounts.
You can make changes to your local account or add new users. If you create an account for another person on your PC, you should consider not making it an admin account. A standard user account would mean that person can't change your security settings or add software. If you choose to delete your account, then scroll up to the first half of this article to see that process.
If you selected "do this later" instead of putting in your Windows 10 product key, then you will not be able to personalize your machine until you enter a valid key and activate Windows.
Even after you activate Windows, you are by no means done as you should change most Windows 10 settings to preserve as much of your privacy as possible. But that will have to be another article.