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A tip for working with accounts on Windows 7 Home Premium

I have two HTPCs at home, one in my bedroom and one in my living room (*cough*, the living room HTPC is coming soon), as well as another notebook that my lady uses. These machines are a perfect candidate for the Windows 7 family pack that Microsoft is offering for $150, which is good news for me as far as licensing goes.

Since these machines will are simply for entertainment purposes, and web browsing, they don’t need any features other than the ones offered by Home Premium, unfortunately, the RDP host is not available for Home Premium, so I will likely end up using VNC (though I have seen that Windows 7 and VNC aren’t the best of buddies yet), LogMeIn or another remote control technology for management, but we will see, in the meantime I have my rubber keyboard and small USB mouse handy for plugging into the front USB ports on my HTPCs and using my TV as a monitor. But I digress, while the HTPCs will be auto logging into their accounts and starting up XBMC on boot, that leaves me with the third PC in the house that has a local admin account, as well as a service account granting it access to media files on my workstation. Since my workstation is domain joined, it can join a HomeGroup, it cannot serve files to a HomeGroup (for security purposes I assume), so I am stuck using a service account. This leaves me with an extra account showing up in my Welcome screen (and the welcome screen of the other machine) that I do not care to see, so I set out looking for a way to hide the service account.

The following registry hack (place usual registry editing warning here), will get the job done, and as an added bonus, I have also included the name of the user account applet for those of us that dislike the new user account control panel fluff.

Without further ado, the registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\SpecialAccounts\UserList

Inside this registry key, create a new DWORD value with the account name to hide, leave the DWORD with a value of 0.

Log off or reboot and voila, the account should no longer appear in the Welcome screen, but you should still be able to authenticate to the machine using this account. This is useful in scenarios where you cannot have a HomeGroup, or choose not to use a HomeGroup and would like to share resources between machines using good old fashioned service accounts without having the account name lingering in the Welcome screen.

Also, as promised, from the Run dialog, typing netplwiz will bring up the old school user accounts applet, this is very useful in the case of Windows 7 Home Premium, since there is no Local Users & Groups applet in “Computer Management” as in Windows 7 Professional and above.

Give it a try!

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