Are you unlocking your Windows 10 device with a password? You could be compromising your security. Your password can be used to get access to your account on any device, or via the Internet on any computer. But using a PIN to unlock your Windows 10 device can be much safer. Unlike your usual account password, a PIN is associated only with one device, and it has to be physically typed in.

That makes using a PIN an effective way to reduce the chances that hacking or malware might compromise your account – especially if you take added precautions such as creating and using a non-administrator account for everyday use. Between using a PIN and a non-admin account, you’ll be able to significantly reduce your risk and limit your losses to information on just one device if your account is hacked and your device gets stolen.

PINs are typically easier than passwords to use, too – especially on a mobile device with an onscreen keyboard.  To enter your PIN, you only need to use the numbers keyboard. PINs can be as short as 4 digits, but Windows 10 allows for more if you like.

To set up a PIN on your device, open the START menu and type “pin.”  That should open a list of suggestions that includes the option to Set up PIN sign-in.  Click to open the Settings >Sign-in Options page.

Windows 10 set up pin number setting

Under Require sign-in, in the PIN section, click Add.

Windows 10 add PIN feature

You will first be prompted to enter your password, then the 4 (or more) digits you’ve chosen for your PIN. Verify it by entering it a second time, then click OK.  For added security, set your computer to require a sign-in when waking from sleep as well as on startup.

Now wherever a sign in is required, you can use your new PIN instead of a password. Even if others see your PIN, it’s of very little use. And without the device the PIN is associated with, it’s of no use whatsoever. Remember, though, to use a different PIN on each of your devices.