Does anyone know a (verified) method to cause a specific user to auto-login after a system reboot, that works on Server 2008?

I've tried tweaking some registry values (I don't have the link right now) and we've also tried a couple of programs (one free program didn't work, another one costs money).

Edit Since several people have asked for my reasons - I need to run Selenium web tests on a TeamCity build agent, and they don't work well when the build runs as a windows service. Running them in a user session solves the problem.

  • What is the reason for wanting this? Perhaps it can be resolved by doing whatever needs doing as a service or a scheduled task? – Oskar Duveborn Oct 12 '09 at 10:31

For a Windows 2008 domain member, add AutoAdminLogon as a string value (REG_SZ) with a value of 1 to the key

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

Next, run the User Accounts control panel by typing control userpasswords2 in the Run command.

On the Users tab, uncheck the box "Users must enter a username..." and then add the username and password to autologon with.

  • 2
    It is not until you give up on the last step (where do I type in the user name and password, oh I give up and press ok), that you are prompted for the user name and password. – ctrl-alt-delor Feb 23 '12 at 14:30
  • 4
    Must check and uncheck users must enter a user name and password ..., then press ok. – ctrl-alt-delor Feb 23 '12 at 16:01
  • How can this be used to login multiple users? – LifeH2O Mar 31 '16 at 9:59

You may try autologon form sysinternals. It permits you to make windows logon automaticaly under a specified account with the credentials encrypted.


Helpful Tip on Windows autologin: Any Legal Notice that pops up before Windows prompts for user name and password will stop autologin. There may be a way to click passed the prompt automatically, but it was easier to just delete the annoying keys in the registry:

Open regedit, delete the string values in the two keys: * LegalNoticeCaption ** LegalNoticeText in HKLM\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\WinLogon

source for the registry edits: http://www.annoyances.org/exec/forum/winxp/t1107277811

In Server 2008 these same keys are also found in: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policy\System

Be sure to check in both locations to be certain the values have been deleted.

The legal notice issue was causing our autologin to hang. Since this was on a remote 2008 Server in the Verizon cloud it was impossible to watch the autologin after a reboot.

The sysinternals autologin tool works very well to get autologin to work. It is already referenced earlier in this post.


Have a look at http://sourceforge.net/projects/runasservice/. It's a tool to run an existing application as a service. This service should use your desired user account. This should solve your problem.


You say you need the program to run in a specific user session. Can't you just schedule a task for that program and use that user's credentials? You'll get the whole user settings: my documents, settings, etc, just as if the user was present.

  • I don't want to schedule it, I want to raise the entire build agent process (that should run always) when the machine starts. – ripper234 Oct 12 '09 at 12:11
  • Schedule task for Windows 2003 allows you to schedule a task to run at system startup. I'm sure 2008 has that choice as well. – Knox Oct 12 '09 at 18:22
  • Still, I want a proper session, the user credentials are not enough. When I tried running it as a service (under the same user credentials), it didn't work. – ripper234 Oct 13 '09 at 7:45
  • Running as a service is not the same as running as a scheduled task. I really believe that an exe running under a scheduled task is a proper session. The only thing I'm not sure about is if the process insisted on displaying stuff on a real CRT. Since I've done this with vanilla apps, their display stuff goes into the bit bucket. Give it a shot; it's such a cleaner solution than some of the other suggested. – Knox Oct 13 '09 at 10:21

Are you absolutely sure you need to do that? It's always a security risk to have a user (or administrator) logged in locally to a server. If you need to start a program or something that is not available as service, have a look at Group Policy (Active Directory) or the Local Security Policy (if not in a domain). You can define scripts that will be run after boot (or before shutdown, after login/logout, etc) without user interaction.

  • 1
    I need a program to run in a specific user session. I don't really care about security, it's in the company intranet. – ripper234 Oct 12 '09 at 11:03
  • I am running in virtual-box. – ctrl-alt-delor Feb 23 '12 at 14:33

This should work-or at least it always has for me. I know it says for XP but it should apply:

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.