Windows 7 Switch User

If you have more than one user account on Windows 7, Fast User Switching is an easy way for another person to log on to the computer without logging you off or closing your programs and files. This allows multiple users to use the same computer while keeping each account’s programs and files open and running in the background.

Make sure to save any open files before switching users because Windows doesn’t automatically save files that are open. If you switch to a different user account and that user shuts down the computer, any unsaved changes you made to files that are open on your account will be lost. This tutorial will explain how to use Fast User Switching in Windows 7.

Switch User in Windows 7

Windows 7 support a feature that allows you to switch accounts on the same computer without logging out the first one. To do so, you can select Switch User from Start Menu on Windows 7 computers.

Switch User in Windows 7 from Start Menu

Or, on Windows 7 computers, simple press Ctrl+Alt+Del, and select Switch User from the list.

Switch User from Ctrl Alt Del

But do you know that you can also quickly switch accounts right from a command line?

If you are switching to an account that hasn’t been logged in, press Win + R to bring up the Run dialog box, type tsdiscon, and press Enter. It quickly locks your current account and switches you back to the log in screen readying for you to make the switch.

Switch User from Command Line

If you are switching to an account that’s already logged in, you can use the command tscon instead with the proper syntax.

tscon {sessionid | sessionname}

Or you can specify the password with the switch /password:pw.

Behind the scene, both command lines, tsdiscon and tscon, are used to work with a remote desktop service session but since every user logged in Windows 7 or 8 can be considered a remote session, you can use the command to fulfill our needs descirbed in this post.

Enable “Switch User” Option in Windows 7

Many system administrators might disable Switch User feature to restrict end-users. If you have an administrative account, but "Switch User" option is inactive - you can enable using Group Policy Editor as well as Registry Editor.

Enable "Switch User" Option using Group Policy Editor

  1. Type gpedit.msc in RUN or Start Menu Searchbox and press Enter. It’ll open Group Policy Editor.
  2. Now go to: Local Computer Policy -> Administrative Templates -> System -> Logon.
  3. In right-side pane, double-click on "Hide entry points for Fast User Switching" option and set it to Disabled.
  4. That’s it. Now "Switch User" option will be enabled from Welcome screen as well as from Shutdown menu.
Enable Switch User using Group Policy Editor

Disable "Switch User" Option using Registry Editor

Since Group Policy Editor doesn’t come with some specific Windows 7 editions, here is another method to disable "Switch User" option using Registry Editor:

  1. Type regedit in RUN or Start Menu Searchbox and press Enter. It’ll open Registry Editor.
  2. Now go to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
  3. In right-side pane, create a new DWORD value HideFastUserSwitching and set its value to 0
  4. That’s it. Now "Switch User" option will be enabled from Welcome screen as well as from Shutdown menu.
Enable Switch User using Registry Editor

Windows 7 Desktop Shortcut to Switch User

To create a shortcut allowing you to rapidly switch user:

  1. Right-click on an empty space of your desktop > New > Shortuct
  2. In the "Type the location of the Item" enter "%windir%\System32\tsdiscon.exe"
  3. Click on Next > Give a name to your shortcut and click on the Finish button.

Note that: Under Home and Basic versions of Windows 7 this tip is invalid as they don’t possess the "C:\Windows\System32\tsdiscon.exe" file.