When Windows stops automatically booting up to desktop icons

by Larry Schneider

Dear Larry,

For years, my computer automatically booted up to the Windows desktop and all my icons. All of a sudden, I now have to click my name at the Welcome screen in order to proceed. What happened?

L. O.

Dear L. O.,

This “problem” is actually more common than you might think. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution.

It all stems from Windows’ user account system. When only one user is specified — this is Windows’ default mode — Windows boots to the desktop automatically (unless a password is required). But should additional user accounts be created, Windows must stop at the Welcome screen so that the user can click his or her account and proceed.

Each individual user account can maintain its own Windows preferences (such as the background image and icons shown on the desktop, sound effects, Start Menu, etc.), allowing individual users to maintain their individual tastes. Personally, I think creating multiple users on a computer creates more hassle than it’s worth, but then that’s just me.

Anyway, back to the question at hand. I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, “But I never added a second user account. And only one account is displayed on the Welcome screen!” Well, the explanation behind all of this is that user accounts can, in fact, be hidden. And this is where the mystery lies.

Most likely, a recent program update on your computer required the creation of a temporary user account (which Windows hid from view). Unfortunately, that same update didn’t remove the user account when it was finished. And despite the fact that it’s hidden, Windows still treats it as a regular user and stops at the Welcome screen because it sees that two or more user accounts are active.

The solution lies on the User Accounts apple, which can be run from the Windows Control Panel. Here’s how to proceed:

Click Start, then Control Panel, and select User Accounts. This window lists all of the existing user accounts. If you see a user account named ASP.Net or something very similar, that’s the account the update created and left intact, which caused your problem. In the next step, we’re going to delete that account because it’s no longer needed.

But first, here’s an important warning. If you happen to see an account named “Guest” or an account named “Administrator,” leave them alone. They’re needed for Windows to operate correctly but will not affect whether or not you’re stopped at the Welcome screen.

Click the ASP.Net account, then click Delete the Account, Delete Files, and finally Delete Account. This won’t take long, because this account was created temporarily and doesn’t have many files associated with it.

With that account now missing in action, chances are your computer should boot to the Windows desktop as it used to do. Restart your computer to be sure that it does.

This is Larry Schneider, logging off.

Larry Schneider is the owner of Accent on Computers, a Greenwich-based consulting firm — now in its 16th year of business — catering to individuals, businesses and professional offices. PC and Mac services include computer setup, training, troubleshooting, virus resolution, networking, Internet, database, and programming. Call 203-625-7575, visit Accentoncomputers.com or send email to [email protected]

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