Tip o’ the Week 431 – Hiding your name

clip_image002If you use your laptop on a train or in other public spaces, there’s always the concern that someone might be looking over your shoulder and reading what’s on your screen. With the GDPR bogeyman about to be unleashed, there’s never been more concern and focus on not leaking information.

clip_image004You could invest in a screen filter to stop snooping, but a simple step to make you immediately more comfortable, is to not show your own name – have you ever felt self-conscious that random people in the wild can see your name, and maybe even recognise you?

Paranoid Microsoftie Andrew Brook-Holmes went digging to see how to stop this behaviour, and thus inspired this tip.

To switch off the display of your name on the login clip_image006or lock screen, first go into the Local policy of your machine – the quickest way is to press WindowsKey+R then enter gpedit.msc, then expand out the local policy to Security Options as shown on the right.

In the right-hand pane, you’ll see a long list of policy items, many of which won’t be configured but could conceivably be; there are options to hide or show elements on the login screen, but in this case we’re going to try not showing the last named user at all.


Double-clock on the Interactive logon: Don’t display last signed-in, and you’ll have a simple Enable/Disable choice – in this case, we want to use a double negative – enable the fact that we’re not displaying. If you’d like a more detailed explanation of what it does, there’s another tab on the dialog showing exactly that.

Now if you lock your screen (WindowsKey+L), you’ll see tclip_image010hat it’s already in effect. It might be annoying depending on how you’ve got the machine set up, as you’ll probably need to enter your username as well as PIN/password etc every time.

If you use Windows Hello to sign in with your face, then you won’t need to do anything except present your boat race to the camera. If you decide you’d rather go back to normal for easier sign-in, just reverse the process you’ve done above.

clip_image012If you can’t find Local Computer Policy (as home edition doesn’t have that capability, for example), you may need to use the Registry instead…

Press WindowsKey+R – enter regedit – navigate to…


…and set the value of dontdisplaylastusername to 1. Log out to apply the change.

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