How To Log On and Off A Windows Operating System – Basic Guide To Windows

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In this blog I teach you concepts associated with logging in and out of a Windows operating system, so that you can understand the basics of what happens when you sit down at your computer and start to use it.

The term logging on and off Windows simply refers to the process of sitting down at your computer and having Windows initialize any commands it needs for you to operate the computer properly. Your settings from a previous session are restored, and any networked drives that you were previously working with are also restored to their previous states.

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Logging On And Off Windows

When you log on to Windows, you are instructing Windows to load any services and programs that you need to use on the computer. Multiple users can be setup on the computer through Windows User Accounts option within the control panel, and each user can have a different profile with different settings, and unique file permissions. DIfferent users can setup different shortcuts and wallpapers and the administrator on the computer can setup a quota (or a limit to the amount of file storage that user can take up on the computer).

In this section I walk you through the process of logging in to an older Windows XP based computer but reference in a different section how to login to a more modern version of Windows to give you an idea of how the screens have changed throughout different Windows versions.

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How To Log On To A Windows XP Workstation

The process of logging on to Windows is quite simple to understand. Immediately after your computer finishes booting and you are in the Windows environment, you will see a blue screen with a Windows logo, a welcome logo, as well as any user accounts you have setup on the system. This article makes reference to the Windows XP operating system.

Depending on the setup of your XP based operating system and the number of user accounts you have installed on the system, there may be a chance that this screen does not appear (this is normally the case when there is only one user account setup on the system). If that is the case, you can simply glance over the screenshot illustrated below, and proceed to the next section for details on how to log off Windows.

How To Log On

As you can notice from the illustration below, I have two user accounts setup on my PC and as a result, Windows wants me to choose which account I would like to log on with. I’ve selected the first account, and entered my password. After a successful entry of my password, Windows logs me on so I can begin working with Windows. Network connections are restored, and any customized settings are activated.

Figure 1.1 - Logging On To Windows XP Professional Based Computer
Figure 1.1 – Logging On To Windows XP Professional Based Computer

How To Log Off

The next section will walk you through the process of logging off Windows. The process of logging off Windows is the same process as logging on, except you have to tell Windows that you want to log off.

  1. Left click Start.

    Figure 1.2 - Logging Off Windows - Part 1
    Figure 1.2 – Logging Off Windows – Part 1
  2. Left click Log Off.

Here is what logging off a Windows XP machine will look like when that task is completed:

Figure 1.3 - Logging Off Windows - Part 2
Figure 1.3 – Logging Off Windows – Part 2
  1. Left click the Switch User icon to instruct Windows to keep you logged in, but return you to the Login screen so you can still be logged in with your existing username, but also log in with a secondary user account.
  2. Left click the Log Off icon to instruct Windows to completely log you out of Windows and return you to the Welcome/Login screen.
  3. Left click the Cancel button to abort the operation and return to Windows.

Depending on the option you choose Windows will bring you back to the welcome screen where you can login again, or login with different credentials.

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How to Log On a Windows 7 Based Computer

Again, the process of logging on to a Windows 7 based computer is the same as logging on a Windows XP machine. The only difference is in the graphics that you see. Here’s a screenshot of what first loads when you start up a Windows 7 based computer:

Figure 1.4 - Logging On To A User Account In Windows 7 Professional
Figure 1.4 – Logging On To A User Account In Windows 7 Professional

The same process as in Windows XP, logging into a Windows 7 machine simply requires you to select the user account you want to log on with.

Left click the icon associated with the user account and if a password has been setup for the account Windows will prompt you to input it into the box. Similar to logging into a Windows XP computer, logging into a Windows 7 will load necessary system and program files, and customization settings so that you can begin working with your computer.

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How to Log Off a Windows 7 Based Computer

  1. Left click Start Orb.

    Figure 1.5 - Logging Off A Windows 7 Based Computer
    Figure 1.5 – Logging Off A Windows 7 Based Computer
  2. Left click Log Off.

Windows will not confirm the process, and after a few seconds it will continue to log off the User Account currently logged in with and return you to the login screen.

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How To Log On To A Windows 8.1 Workstation

To finish off this article I will show you how to log on and off a Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 based workstations.

Here’s what you will see when you first boot up a Windows 8.1 workstation.

Figure 1.6 - Logging On To A User Account In Windows 8.1
Figure 1.6 – Logging On To A User Account In Windows 8.1

To proceed with logging in simply left click with the mouse and you will be prompted to enter your password for a user account as shown in Figure 1.7 below:

Figure 1.7 - Logging On To A User Account In Windows 8.1
Figure 1.7 – Logging On To A User Account In Windows 8.1

How to Log Off a Windows 8.1 Based Computer

Here is how to log off a Windows 8.1 based computer.

Figure 1.8 - Logging Off A Windows 8.1 Based Computer
Figure 1.8 – Logging Off A Windows 8.1 Based Computer
  1. Left click Start Orb.
  2. Left click the User Account name.
  3. From the drop-down menu, left click the Sign Out menu item.

After a short delay Windows will log you out of the computer and return you to the sign in screen.

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How To Log Off A Windows 10 Based Computer

Here is how to log off a Windows 10 based computer.

Figure 1.9 - Logging Off a Windows 10 Workstation
Figure 1.9 – Logging Off a Windows 10 Workstation
  1. Left click Start Orb.
  2. Left click the User Account profile picture.

    Figure 1.10 - Logging Off a Windows 10 Workstation - Part 2
    Figure 1.10 – Logging Off a Windows 10 Workstation – Part 2
  3. From the drop-down menu, left click the Sign Out menu item.

So that is the end of the article. It is pretty easy to understand logging in and out of Windows just remember to use a password that’s easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess. Also remember that different user profiles can be setup on a computer so that each person in your family can have their own experience through different settings and configurations, and that you can setup quotas or limit the disk space a user can have on the computer.

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