These methods apply to both Windows XP Home and Windows XP Pro.
There are several ways to lock your Windows XP computer, but all of them use
the same command line. The method you choose is a matter of personal preference.
- via the keyboard
The easiest way to lock Windows XP is by simply pressing the Windows logo
key and the letter L (for Lock) on a Microsoft Natural Keyboard
or any other compatible keyboard that includes the Window key. Doing
so will pop up the Unlock Computer Password box.
- via a Shortcut.
If you don't have a keyboard with a Window key or simply don't like
the keyboard method, then here's how you can make a desktop shortcut to lock
Right click an empty area of your desktop, choose New/Shortcut
and enter this line as the command line:
Click Next. Name the shortcut whatever you prefer and click Finish.
If you'd like to change the icon, just right click the shortcut and
go to Properties/Shortcut/Change Icon.
- via the command line
The above command line can also be used at a DOS prompt to lock your
computer. One simple way you can do it would be by clicking Start/Run,
typing CMD and then entering the command and pressing Enter.
- via a bat file
This is similar to a Windows shortcut method. But it's a DOS version. If you've
never created a bat (batch) file, but would like to try this method, simply
open a new text file (such as with Notepad) and type the following
Save the file with a .bat extension, such as Lock.bat, and you're
done. Double click to make the file run.
Those are the basic methods to lock XP, but there are some other relating factors
of which you should be aware.
It should go without saying that if you don't use a password to log on
to your computer, then anyone can access your computer and unlock it. If you
want to use the lock feature, then set a password by going to User Accounts
in the Control Panel and then click Create Password.
Fast User Switching
Fast User Switching allows multiple login sessions at the same time. Whether
you have this feature enabled or disabled will make a big difference
in how your locked computer can be accessed and on the behavior of your shortcuts
If enabled, executing any of the above locking methods will bring up
the Welcome screen and other users will be able to log on to the computer,
as is the norm for Fast User Switching. So, you really don't get much security
at all this way, if your intention is to lock your machine. With Fast User Switching,
only your profile is locked, not the ability for other users to log into
your system. Any other user can just log on to your computer and use it.
If Fast User Switching is disabled, you will have to enter a password
to unlock the computer. Double clicking your shortcut will bring
up the Unlock Computer password dialog box. This is the same lock method
that Windows NT and 2000 uses.
If you're not sure whether or not you have Fast User Switching enabled or disabled,
go to User Accounts in the Control Panel and click the Change
the way users log on or off tab. There you will see your status for Fast
Whether the Welcome screen is enabled or disabled also
has an effect on the way your computer can be locked.
If the Welcome screen is enabled, you can also lock your computer in
Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Delete) by clicking the Lock Computer
option in the Shutdown menu list. This option will only appear
if the Welcome screen is enabledwithout Fast User Switching
Note! In order to use Fast User Switching, the Welcome screen
must be enabled. You cannot select Fast User Switching if the
Welcome screen option is unchecked.
If the Welcome screen is disabled, you can lock the computer
by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete and then clicking the Lock Computer tab
in the Windows Security dialog box that comes up.
For more information on Windows security, check out my ABC article, "Windows
File and Folder Security"