Suppose you would like a user to use only one application on Windows OS. This could be particularly useful if you have to present an office demo and want viewers to only access PowerPoint, for example. If this is a requirement for you, then the first thing which should come to your mind is the Assigned Access feature, offered built-in by Windows.
Assigned Access in Windows 10 is a great feature which allows an user to easily lock a Windows PC to a single application. Common use cases of a PC with this feature enabled would be as point-of-sale or other kiosk systems.
This feature was added in Windows 8.1, but it’s still around in Windows 10, with improvements. You will need a Professional, Enterprise, or Education version of Windows to do this–this feature unfortunately isn’t available in Windows 10 Home or the core versions of Windows 8.1.
Step 1: Create a User Account for Assigned Access
Assigned access allows you to create a separate user account that can only launch one application, rather than turning your entire system into a locked kiosk system. To set this up, you must be logged in as a user with administrator permissions.
On Windows 10, open the Settings app and navigate to Accounts > Family & Other People. Click “Add Someone Else to This PC”.
On Windows 8.1, open the PC Settings app and head to Accounts > Other Accounts > Add an Account.
Decide whether or not you want to sign in to your Microsoft account. If you set locked web browsing mode, you will not want to use a Microsoft account. But, if you want to install apps from the Windows Store to use in assigned access mode, you need to set up a Microsoft account instead of the local account. The local account will still allow access to the global applications included with Windows 10.
Windows 10 will guide you to create a Microsoft account by default. If you want to create a local user account, click “I Don’t Have This Person’s Sign In Information” to create a new local user account and then “Add a user without a Microsoft account.” Enter a name like “kiosk” and the password you want.
In Windows 8.1, click “Sign In Without a Microsoft Account” and then “Local Account” to create a local user account.
Enter a name for the user account, such as “kiosk”. You may want to create a user account with a blank password. This makes it easy for anyone to access kiosk mode, even if the system is locked or needs to be restarted.
The account will be created as a standard user account with limited system permissions. Leave this as a default user account – do not turn it into an administrator account.
Step Two: Set Up Assigned Access
You can now set up Assigned Access. On Windows 10, look under the “Other People” section at Settings > Family & Other People. You’ll see a “Set Up Assigned Access” link. Click it.
Don’t see this link? You’re probably using Windows 10 Home, which doesn’t have the Assigned Access feature. You’ll need to upgrade to Windows 10 Professional to get this feature.
On Windows 8.1, head to PC Settings > Accounts > Other Accounts and click “Set Up an Account for Assigned Access”. You may need to sign into the account a single time so the first-time setup process runs before you configure Assigned Access, although this step isn’t necessary on Windows 10.
Select the user account you created and select the app you want to limit the account to. Here are the limitations:
- Windows 10 Professional: Only new “Universal Windows Platform” apps bundled with Windows 10 or installed from the Windows Store can be selected. Unfortunately, you can’t choose the Microsoft Edge web browser.
- Windows 10 Enterprise or Education: In addition to Universal Windows Platform apps, you can choose an installed desktop applications to limit a user account to.
- Windows 8.1: You may only select Store apps, also known as Modern apps or Metro apps, including the “Modern” version of the Internet Explorer web browser.
When you are done, sign out of your current user account and log in to your assigned access account. Windows will automatically open the application of your choice in full screen mode and will not allow the user to leave the application. Fixed features like taskbar and start menu do not appear, and in Windows 8.1 the charms bar and application switcher do not appear. Nothing happens when you press the Windows key or Alt + Tab.
To exit the assigned access mode in Windows 10, press Ctrl + Alt + Delete. In Windows 8.1, quickly press the Windows key five times. The account will still be signed in, and the application continues to run – this method just “locks” the screen and allows another user to sign in.
If You Have Other Accounts, Keep Them Secure
If you are using this feature to turn a Windows 10 or 8.1 system to a kiosk and open it to the public, consider security. Anyone can come to the computer, press Ctrl + Alt + Delete or the Windows key five times and try logging in to your default administrator user account. Make sure the administrator user account has a strong password so that people can not access the rest of the system beyond the limits of the kiosk system.