How-To

How to Create a Complex Alphanumeric PIN for Windows 10 Login

If you want to make it more difficult for a person to access your machine, you might consider setting up a complex alphanumeric PIN with special characters.

To make logging into your Windows 10 PC secure but easier, the company allowed you to create a four-digit PIN to sign in. However, when Windows 10 was first released, you needed to make changes with Group Policy to create a complex PIN. But it only worked with Pro and Enterprise versions because Group Policy is not available with Windows 10 Home.

Since then, however, Windows 10 has received several new security updates and creating an alphanumeric PIN — including special characters is much easier. Here is a look at how to allow the ability to create a complex PIN on either Windows 10 Home or Pro.

Create Complex Alphanumeric PIN on Windows 10

You can set up a PIN when you initially setting Windows 10 up, but you might have only set up a simple four-digit code. To set up a complex PIN for logging into Windows 10, head to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. Then under the PIN section click the “Add” button if you haven’t created a PIN yet, or the “Change” button if you already have one. Note that if this is the first time creating a PIN, you will need to verify your account with your Microsoft account or Local account creds first. If you are changing it, you’ll need to enter the current PIN you’re using first.

change add PIN Windows 10

In the dialog box that pops up, check the “Include letters and symbols” box. Click on the “PIN requirements” link to see all the rules for a PIN when this option is enabled. The rules are broad. Essentially, the PIN needs to be more than four characters but less than 127. It can include upper and lower-case letters, digits, and special characters like #,$, ^, % …etc. Also, it’s not going to let you put in simple patterns such as abcd or 1111 or 12345. Plug in your complex PIN twice for verification and then click on OK.

Special Character PIN Requirements Windows 10

To test it out, just hit Windows Key + L to lock your screen and you should be asked to enter your new PIN code to log back in.

Windows 10 Login Screen PIN

It’s worth noting that this creates an extra security layer to help keep the bad guys out. With a basic PIN, without special characters, Windows logs you in as soon as the correct PIN is entered. And it can seemingly be attempted until the correct PIN is guessed.

Too Many Back Windows 10 Login Attempts

But with the special character PIN feature enabled, you need to click “Submit” or hit Enter after typing it in. If the PIN is entered incorrectly too many times, Windows will force the PC to be restarted to enter a PIN again. Or, force the user to type in their account password instead.


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. PaulG  

    What is the advantage of typing in a PIN over the Microsoft Account password? It’s just one more thing to remember as far as I can see. My account password is long and complicated and I use 2FA so I ‘think’ I’m secure. I’ve read some of Microsoft’s explanations but they don’t convince me – probably because I don’t understand the issues.

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