I had a relative tonight forget her password to Windows Vista. She hadn’t used her computer in three months, which is a shame because it is a relatively nice one.
Here is a walk-through of what I did. You may want to read through the whole thing before you try it so you don’t repeat the steps that did not work.
Step 1. I downloaded Trinity Resource Kit. I tried to copy it to a USB key and boot from USB, but that didn’t work for some reason. I had to burn the ISO to a physical CD.
Step 2. At the boot menu, I tried several options before it would work. I am guessing it had a conflict with the graphics card. I finally got it to work by choosing the option #14, (Alternate boot 1).
Step 3. Once it booted I got a command-line. I typed:
winpass -u Administrator
Step 4. Then, the command asked me to choose the Windows installation. This computer had two Windows options. Possibly, one of them was the recovery partition. I didn’t know which one to choose, so I guessed the first option. Apparently, this was a wrong guess because it just took me to a command-line registry editor. I hit “q” to quit and it took me back to the command-line without doing anything.
Step 5. I tried the same winpass command again. This time, I chose the second “Windows installation”. This time it gave me a menu. The menu was different than my instructions, and so, I just hit q for quit. I could have reset the administrator account, and that would have solved them problem, but I would have had to logon as the administrator and sorted out the account information.
Step 6. I noticed in the winpass output (before the menu) that it displayed a list of usernames. I knew which one my relative used, and I substituted the actual username for administrator:
winpass -u <username>
Step 7. At the menu, I chose 4 to unlock the account — just in case. I wasn’t sure that it was locked, but they had tried many guesses before I got the computer.
Step 8. I ran the whole winpass command one more time, and at the last menu, I chose option 1 to blank out the password.
Step 9. I typed reboot at the command-line to restart the computer. It ejected the CD before it restarted, and I removed it to let it boot into Windows. When it started, it bypassed the login screen and logged in automatically.