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How to set an alphanumeric PIN on Windows 10

Windows 10 gives you multiple options for signing into your desktop. You can use the same password that you use for your Microsoft account, you can set a PIN, connect a trusted device, or create a picture password. There’s also Windows Hello though the number of supported devices is small and it isn’t all that secure. In fact, there have been reports that it can be fooled. If you prefer to use a PIN but the four digit one seems too short, and easy to guess, you can set a longer, alphanumeric PIN on Windows 10.

Alphanumeric PIN on Windows 10

You can set an alphanumeric PIN on Windows 10 when you set your system up, and later after you’ve already created your account and booted to your system.

Open the Settings app and go to the Account group of settings. Go to the Sign-in options tab and scroll down to the PIN section. Click the Change button if you’ve already set up a PIN, or click the Set up option to set up a PIN.

On the Change your PIN pop up, you will see an option called ‘Include letters and symbols’. Select it and you will be able to set a PIN that’s longer than four characters and that includes both alphabets, and characters like the hash, asterisk, and ampersand symbols.

A longer PIN is usually harder to guess. The default option that restricts you to four numbers might mean that you use a number that other people can guess e.g., the first or last four digits of your phone number, your birth year, or you birthday. There’s also the fact that if you’ve correctly entered the PIN, it will log in to your desktop without you having to tap Enter. This is odd behavior that you won’t find on other platforms. Normally, users have to tap or click Enter for the PIN to be accepted.

Since the PIN is automatically accepted, it’s sort of like a built-in check for whether or not the PIN is correct. Anyone with malicious intent can try any number of PINs until they get it right and a failed attempt will never be detected. On principal, too many failed attempts ought to force a user to use their account password instead. This is also another good reason to set an alphanumeric PIN on Windows 10. When you have an alphanumeric PIN set up, Windows 10 doesn’t automatically sign you in even if you’ve entered it correctly. You have to tap the Enter key for the PIN to be accepted.

1 Comment

  1. The check box for including letters and symbols isn’t there for me. PIN requirements say “your organization has set the follow PIN requirements: must be at least 4 digits long”. I don’t have an organization on my pc. I removed everything related to my school account, restarted my pc a few times, but the restrictions are still there.

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