How to Use Windows 11 With a Local Account


Windows 11 is notoriously picky about how it is installed. Among other things, Windows 11 requires that you use a Microsoft account when you install it. Here’s how you can avoid using a Microsoft account while installing Windows 11 or convert an existing Microsoft account into a local one.

How to Install Windows 11 Without a Microsoft Account

Typically, you would use the Windows Media Creation tool to create a bootable DVD or USB drive, then install Windows 11 that way. Unfortunately, you’ll be stuck logging in with a Microsoft account if you do that.

Windows 10 lets you use a local account if you disconnect from the internet. The latest version of Windows 11, however, will not — if you try the same trick, you’ll just get an error message. Even the Professional version of Windows 11 requires a Microsoft account now.

The "No Internet" error message the Windows 11 installer gives you.
A dropped ice cream cone is much sadder than no Microsoft account.

Rufus is a tool that can create bootable media from an ISO. It does everything the Windows Media Creation tool does, except it has additional options and works with almost any operating system out there.

Newer versions of Rufus have a few extra features designed specifically to streamline installing Windows 11: It can disable the TPM, RAM, and Secure Boot requirements, and it can also disable the Microsoft account requirement. You only need a few things to use Rufus:

The first thing you need to do is download Rufus and install it.

RELATED: Where Are My Downloads on Windows?

Then you have two choices: You can manually download a Windows 11 ISO, or you can let Rufus download the latest ISO for you. It is often useful to have ISOs of your operating system on hand, so we’ll download it manually in this example.

Head over to Microsoft’s Windows 11 download page, select “Windows 11 (multi-edition ISO)” from the dropdown list, then click “Download.” You’ll need to pick your language, then hit “Confirm.” The ISO is about 5 gigabytes, so don’t expect it to be done instantly.

Warning: Using Rufus to create a bootable USB drive will completely erase the contents of that drive. Make sure you save any important files on it before you proceed.

Open Rufus after the Windows 11 ISO has finished downloading, click “Select,” then navigate to wherever you saved it. If you’re using an external SSD as your bootable media, you’ll need to tick “List USB Hard Drives” first.

Rufus will handle most of the important options, like the partition scheme and file system, automatically; you don’t need to worry about them. Just click “Start.”

Pick out what Windows 11 requirements you want disabled. The only one you must select is “Remove Requirement For An Online Microsoft Account.” The others are handy too, especially if you’re upgrading an older PC that might not support TPM 2.0.

Click “OK” when you are done choosing what requirements you want disabled.

Disable certain Windows 11 installation requirements. The second option, "Remove Requirement For An Online Microsoft Account," is essential.

After that you just need to wait for Rufus to actually make the bootable media. It will take a few minutes at least, especially if you’re using an older flash drive.

Next, you need to restart your computer and change the boot order. Typically, your computer boots from the hard drive or solid-state drive that Windows is installed on.

RELATED: How to Boot Your Computer From a Disc or USB Drive

You need to change it from that drive to the new, bootable USB drive you just created with Rufus. This process varies between computers and motherboard manufacturers. Generally, tapping the F2, Del, or F8 key will bring up a screen that’ll let you pick your boot device, but it could be a different key. If you don’t know what key to press, and you aren’t told which key when your computer is booting up, consult the manual for your computer or motherboard. If you’ve lost your manual, that isn’t a significant problem — you can easily check what motherboard you have and then find the manual on the manufacturer’s website.

RELATED: How to Boot Your Computer From a Disc or USB Drive

It is smooth sailing after you change the boot order. Windows 11 will walk you through the rest of the installation process.

How to Convert an Existing Microsoft Login to a Local Login

The easy workaround using Rufus to install Windows 11 without a Microsoft account only appeared a few months prior to the release of Windows 11’s 2022 Update, so most people currently using Windows 11 will have Microsoft logins.

Warning: If you’re using BitLocker and switch to a local account without backing up your recovery key, it is possible that you will permanently lose access to your data. We’ll explain how to do that.

Fortunately, Microsoft has included a feature that lets you quickly convert a Microsoft-based login to a local login. Open up the Settings app, click on the “Accounts” tab, then click on “Your Info.”

Tip: You can open the Settings app by hitting the Windows+i hotkey.

Scroll towards the bottom and click “Sign In With A Local Account Instead.” If you get a huge popup warning you about backing up your BitLocker key, do not ignore it. Your drive is encrypted, and if something happens, you could lose access to all of your files without the recovery key.

A warning message. If you're using device encryption or BitLocker, you must back up your recovery key first.

Make sure you back up your BitLocker encryption key before proceeding, then click through the next few prompts. You’ll need to pick a username, password, and password hint, then go to the next page and click “Sign Out And Finish.”

RELATED: How to Back Up Your BitLocker Recovery Key on Windows 11

Pick a username, password, and password hint when creating your local account.

You should probably restart your PC even after you sign out just to fix any weird bugs that crop up. You also need to be careful now. Your account is a local-only account, which means that Microsoft won’t be able to help you regain access if you forget something.

Additionally, if you attempt to encrypt your drive on a local account, you’ll be told you need to sign in to a Microsoft account to finish the process. That is not accurate — your drive will be encrypted even if you do not sign in, so be sure to make a copy of your recovery key.

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