Since always, to log in to Windows it is necessary to use a username and a password. Or without a password, if we don’t mind jeopardizing our data. However, with the arrival of Windows 10, things have changed, and instead of creating local users, the system uses our Microsoft Account, with its password, to create the user and log in to our computer. Using a quick and easy password can jeopardize our account, while a strong password is tedious to type every time we log in. And this is where Windows Hello comes into play.
What is Windows Hello
Windows Hello is a security feature that has been included in all editions of Windows 10 since its launch (although it did not reach all the launch regions). What this security function does is allow us to forget the password and use other faster and more comfortable authentication methods to log in to the computer.
Thanks to Windows Hello we are going to be able to use a long, robust and complex password to protect our Microsoft Account while we can quickly log in to Windows 10 , safely, without having to type in that complex password.
This security feature allows us to log into Windows using two types of authentication systems. The first of these is through custom key systems or patterns:
- PIN: allows us to set a numeric PIN to use instead of our password.
- Password: allows you to use the Microsoft account password to log in.
- Image password : Set an image and clicking on a specific point in it will log you in.
The second of the methods to log in to Windows 10 is through biometric or double authentication systems. Here we can choose:
- Face: with a compatible camera we can use our face to log in automatically.
- Fingerprint : if we have a fingerprint reader we can use our finger to log in, as well as to unlock the mobile.
- Security key : with a FIDO or compatible key, we can use it to log in. Without the key connected to the USB port the computer will be locked.
Windows Hello was initially introduced as a feature of Windows, but today many applications make use of it to authenticate the user. Google Chrome, for example, allows us to authenticate with Hello to access our saved passwords or to pay without having to enter any other password or key. Dropbox and OneDrive are also compatible with this security feature.
Requirements to use this security function
Windows Hello is available from the first version of Windows 10, although at first it was only available for the United States. With the following updates of the operating system, this function reached other users until, today, 100% of Windows 10 users have Windows Hello available to use it. Therefore, to be sure, the first thing we must make sure is to have the latest operating system update installed with all the patches published to date.
In addition, Windows Hello what you are looking for is to help us to log in safely without using the password of the Microsoft Account. Therefore, another requirement to use this security feature is to have a Microsoft Account, not a local account.
To use the authentication systems by PIN or image we do not need anything else. However, if we want to use the other biometric authentication systems, it is necessary to have additional hardware. For example, to unlock our computer with the fingerprint we must have a fingerprint reader. Modern laptops usually have one included by default. And if we do not have, we can buy one on Amazon quite well priced.
Likewise, if we want to use facial recognition we will need a webcam that supports this function. Any camera is not useful since, for detection to be accurate and reliable, we need the camera to have an infrared system . These cameras are somewhat more expensive than the fingerprint reader, although some relatively new laptops already usually bring a camera on the screen that supports this technology.
And finally, if we are going to use the security keys to authenticate ourselves to the computer, we also need to have a key with reliable certificates and protocols, such as a FIDO key .
How to set up Windows Hello
Of all the security options that Windows Hello offers us, we can activate all that we want. So we can use at any time the one that is most comfortable or quick. What Windows Hello does require before using any other authentication system is to configure a PIN . Thus, if the other systems (for example, the fingerprint or the webcam) do not work, we can always access the computer using said PIN.
To enter Windows Hello settings, what we must do is open the Windows 10 Settings menu (keyboard shortcut Windows + I), and go to the Accounts > Login options section.
Here we can configure each of the login options that Windows Hello offers us.
PIN is the standard Windows Hello authentication system. It allows us to replace having to enter the password every time we log in with a much faster and more comfortable numeric (or alphanumeric) PIN.
We will select the option to configure a PIN to log in and the wizard will guide us through the steps that we must complete. Basically what we have to do is enter the PIN in the box that appears, and repeat it in the lower box. If we want to use letters or symbols we will have to check the box that appears below the boxes for the PIN.
When we enter the PIN, our Windows 10 will already be protected with it.
Set up facial recognition
In case of having a compatible camera we are going to be able to use this authentication system. All we have to do is select this option in the Windows Hello configuration and start with the wizard that will guide us to implement this security measure.
After asking us for our password (or the PIN if we have already activated it before), the camera will connect and ask us to stare at it for a few seconds. We have to keep our face inside the box that will appear on the screen until it finishes recognizing us. It is essential to have good lighting when configuring this feature to avoid recognition errors.
When we finish we will already have this function configured and Windows will be able to recognize us through its “eye” without having to do anything. If we do not have the PIN configured we will have to configure it before closing the wizard, for security.
The fingerprint is another of the most comfortable authentication systems that we can configure in Windows. If we have a fingerprint reader, all we have to do is select the option to configure it from the Windows Hello options menu.
After authenticating with the PIN (or password, if we have not yet configured the PIN), we simply must follow the steps that appear on the screen to configure our finger. Basically it’s all about putting your finger on and off the reader, and moving it until you fully recognize it.
When finished, just like with the webcam, it will force us to configure a PIN if we have not done so before. And we can already start to log in using the fingerprint reader of Windows 10. Also indicate that we can add the fingerprints we want, something useful if, for example, we share the computer with other trusted people.
Set up security key
If we want to use a security key to log into Windows 10 we can also configure it from this section of Windows Hello. The only thing we have to do for it is to choose this authentication system, connect the security key to a USB port of our PC and follow the steps that the wizard will show us.
When the process ends, we can use this USB key to log in instead of a PIN, password or any other biometric system.
This option is not an authentication method as such, but it allows us to easily change the password of our Microsoft Account, and with it, the Windows user password.
Set image password
Finally, this authentication system allows us to use an image so that, based on patterns, we can unlock the PC without using a password. For this, what we must do is select this option from the Windows Hello menu and configure the pattern that we want to carry out. We can leave the default photo of Windows 10 or choose any image that we have stored on the computer.
This method is not one of the safest, but it is very comfortable if we have a touch screen on our computer.
How to remove Windows 10 PIN (disable Windows Hello)
In case after a while we do not want to continue using these authentication systems and we want to return to the usual username and password, Windows 10 allows us to deactivate all these Windows Hello options easily.
What we must do for this is go back to the login options section (Settings> Accounts> Login options) and choose the item we want to disable.
Windows 10 will ask us to enter the PIN (in the case of deactivating the biometric systems) or the password of the Microsoft Account (in the event that what we are removing is the PIN) to demonstrate that it is us and, very importantly, that we remember her.
When we finish, the PIN, the fingerprint or the element that we have said to remove will be disabled. We can verify it by pressing Windows + L to block the session and checking the available authentication systems.
Thanks to Windows Hello, using Windows 10 safely is much easier than ever.