How to Fix ‘System Error 8646’ when Resetting Microsoft Account Password

Some Windows users are reporting that they end up seeing the ‘System Error 8646‘ (The system is not authoritative for the specified account and therefore cannot complete the operation) error code when attempting to use a net user command to reset the password of a Microsoft account.

System Error 8646

After investigating this particular issue, it turns out that there are a couple of different scenarios with the potential of causing this issue. Here’s a shortlist of problems that might trigger the System Error 8646:

  • You’re attempting to change the password of a local account – As it turns out, you can expect to see this particular issue in those instances where you don’t actually have enough permissions on the CMD prompt to trigger a password change via the net user command. In this case, you can probably work around the issue by changing the password via Control Panel or by using the Settings app on Windows 10.
  • You’re attempting to change the password of a Microsoft account – You can also expect to encounter this error code if you are attempting to change the password of a Microsoft account via a net user command. This will not work regardless of your method of choice – The only way to do it is by using the official password reset infrastructure hosted on Microsoft Live.

Now that you are intimately familiar with every scenario that might end up producing this error, here’s a list of verified methods that other affected Windows users have successfully used to get to the bottom of the System Error 8646:

Method 1: Change the Password via the GUI menu of Windows

If you’re only encountering this issue while attempting to use a net user CMD command to reset your password, keep in mind that you have several workarounds at your disposal if you can actually get past the sign-in menu of your Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 OS.

Depending on your OS of choice, you can expect to be able to get around this issue Several affected users have reported that they managed to get around this issue by using the Settings app or the classic control panel interface to change the password of their local account.

Important: These methods will only work as long as you are able to log in and if you are using a local account.

Depending on your preferred way of doing things, follow one of the sub-guides below to change the password of the Settings app via the classic control panel interface or via the settings app:

A. Changing the password via Control panel (Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10)

If you’re not using Windows 10 or you’d prefer to stay away from the Settings interface, you can also change your current password for the local account via the Control Panel menu.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘control’ inside the text box, then press Enter to open up the Classic Control panel interface.
    Accessing the classic Control Panel interface

    Note: If you’re prompted by the UAC (User Account Control), click Yes to grant admin access.

  2. Once you’re inside the classic control panel menu, use the search function to search for ‘user accounts‘, then click on User Accounts from the list of results.
    Accessing the User Accounts menu
  3. Once you’re inside the User Accounts menu, click on Manage another account and click Yes when prompted by the UAC (User Account Control) menu.
    Accessing the Manage Another account menu
  4. Inside the Manage Accounts menu, click on the account that you’re actively using, then click on Change the password from the list of available options.
  5. Enter a new password as well as your old one in the correct boxes, then click on Change password and restart your computer to complete the operation.

B. Changing the Password via the Settings app of Windows 10

If what you’re attempting to achieve via this net user command is to change your password on your Windows 10 computer and you know your current password, follow the instructions below to change it via the Settings app:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Inside the text box, type ‘ ms-settings:signinoptions’ and press Enter to open up the Sign-in options of the Settings menu.

    Opening the Sign-in Options menu of the Settings app

    Note: If you’re prompted by the UAC (User Account Control), click Yes to grant admin access.

  2. Once you’re inside the Sign-in options menu, move over to the right-hand section of the Settings menu, click on Password (under Manage how you sign in to your device), then click on Change from the context menu that just appeared.
    Changing the password of your Windows Local account
  3. Next, follow the on-screen prompts to enter the current password, then add the new one before finally hitting Next and restarting the computer.
    Changing the current Windows Local Account password

In case this method was not applicable in your particular scenario or there’s no way for you to access the Settings screen of Windows 10 conventionally, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 2: Reset the Microsoft Account password online

If you’re encountering the System Error 8646 when attempting to use the ‘net user USERNAME NEWPASSWORD‘ CMD command to reset the password of a Microsoft account, this is to be expected since the only way to reset MS account password is by going online.

Important: The ‘net user’ command will only be effective in resetting your login password as long as the user you’re trying to access is not tied up to a Microsoft account.

If you want to reset the password of a Microsoft account, the only way to do it is from the account.live.com infrastructure. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open any browser and visit the Recover your account Microsoft page
  2. Once you’re inside the Recover your account page, enter the phone number or email associated with your account, then click Next to advance to the next menu.
    Recovering your Microsoft account password
  3. At the next screen, you will be prompted to select from a list of different ways to reset your password (depending on your account type). If you opted to reset your code via email, you will need to open your inbox to fetch the code, then paste the code to verify the identity and click on Next.
    Verifying your identity
  4. At the next screen, you will be presented with a screen where you can reset the password. When you see it, follow the remaining on-screen prompts to complete the reset of your password.
Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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