How To: Setup a Picture Password or PIN

Picture PasswordMicrosoft allows you to setup a Picture Password or a 4 digit PIN to simplify logging into your Surface Pro or Surface RT tablet.

If you don’t know about picture passwords, they’re a mechanism to let you draw a pattern on the screen to act as the password to unlock or log in to your Surface. A PIN is just a 4 digit Personal Identification Number (if you ever wondered what PIN stood for) like you use for your ATM card.

Both options a lot more convenient than typing out a long password but have some security ramifications. I’m not going to go into those in this post but you can read up a little about them at Security Nirvana.

For this post, I’m assuming you’re a big boy or girl and can make the convenience vs. security call yourself. I’m just going to show you how to setup a picture password or PIN.

Cool? OK, let’s get started with setting up a picture password then we’ll cover setting up a PIN as well.

Setup a Picture Password

  • Find a nice picture that you want to use for your picture password
  • Make sure it’s in your Pictures folder on your Surface
  • Go to the Charms bar (swipe in from the right side of the screen)
  • Click the Settings charm
  • Select Change PC Settings
  • Select Users

Setup picture password

  • Under Sign-in options select Create a picture password
  • You will be prompted for your password, enter it

Setup picture password

  • Now, you’ll get a screen with a Choose picture button. Tap it

Setup picture password

  • Browse to the picture you selected in step 1 and select it

Setup picture password

  • Click the Use this picture button when the How’s this look? screen appears

Setup picture password

  • Draw your gestures on the screen. You will have to have 3 different gestures
  • Confirm those gestures. If you make a mistake, click Start over to try again

Setup picture password

  • Click Finish

Setup picture password

Pretty easy. Now let’s go over how to setup a PIN instead. It’s pretty much the same thing but not quite as many steps.

Setup a PIN

  • Pick a 4 digit PIN to use
  • Go to the Charms bar (swipe in from the right side of the screen)
  • Click the Settings charm
  • Select Change PC Settings
  • Select Users

Setup picture password

  • Under Sign-in options select Create a PIN
  • You will be prompted for your password, enter it

Setup PIN

  • Next you’ll be asked for your PIN (remember step 1), enter and confirm it

Setup PIN

That’s it. Simple, huh? So now instead of needing to enter a long password, you’ll just have to punch in a 4 digit PIN to access your device. It’s a lot quicker than entering a long alphanumeric password but has the previously mentioned security concerns.

It’s up to you to decide which is more important; security or convenience.

Oh, in case you’re wondering; yes you can have both a picture password and a PIN. You can switch between them via the sign-in options item below the password or PIN fields. If you’re using a picture password, you’ll have to click the Switch to password button first to see it.


3 thoughts on “How To: Setup a Picture Password or PIN

  1. I’ve got a Surface Pro and love the picture password thing, but I’m wondering if you can bypass the splash screen on boot-up and go directly to the picture password screen. On mine, the default splash screen is the Seattle Space Needle (or the Toronto CNN Tower) and serves no particular purpose. Any answers?

  2. Pingback: 10 Cool things to do with your Surface | Sun Behind the Clouds

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