How To run Multiple Versions of the Same Program on your PC

I was asked in the comments of a previous post how I managed to run multiple versions of Skype at the same time and while answering him, I thought it was worth turning my answer into a post. It isn’t just Skype that this can be used for. You can also use this method to run multiple versions of your favourite instant messaging program (if you have more than one ID) or multiple versions of your internet browser if you have more than one email account with the same provider. For instance, using this tip you can access multiple gmail accounts at the same time.

With the Windows operating system, everything runs under a user account which you log into when you boot up the computer. Say for the purposes of this discussion, my main default user account on my PC is MARK_1. Well when I boot up the PC in the morning, MARK_1 will load and all programs I subsequently use will run under MARK_1.

But I sometimes help out a friend who runs a virtual telephone answering service through Skype. So obviously only one Skype line isn’t going to cut it. To open more Skype lines (without having to log in and out of Windows all the time), here’s what you do :

newwindowsaccount   How To run Multiple Versions of the Same Program on your PC

First, you need to set up more Windows user accounts. To make this simple, I’ll name them MARK_2, MARK_3 and so on. Since I have a German language computer, I can’t really post too many screenshots and I am unsure of the terminology on an English language computer so I will describe it to you in general terms and perhaps you can tell me the exact wording. In the Windows start menu, you have a “System Setup” option and in there is an option called “User Accounts”. This is where you maintain your Windows accounts, including the main administrator account.

Just open that option up, choose the new account option and set up as many new accounts as you need. YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOG OUT OF YOUR CURRENT USER ACCOUNT TO DO THIS! Plus you need to have administrator privileges to set up new accounts. So trying this at work is probably not a good idea as your IT department will probably not appreciate it.

runas   How To run Multiple Versions of the Same Program on your PCOnce the accounts are set up, go to the desktop icon (or the start menu link) of the program you want to start again and choose “run as”. This will open up a sign-in box with a drop-down list of your user accounts (which by now should contain the new ones you have just created). Just choose another account, enter the password (if you set one up during the account creation process) and the program will instantly open again under that new windows user account.

Using this method, I have run up to five Skype lines simultaneously and the ICQ chat program three times (although I am sure more is possible if you have the CPU capacity to support them all). As I said before, you can also use this method to run more than one Firefox browser to check email accounts or perhaps you want to be logged in as two different users in a social network? The possibilities for running more than one Windows user account is endless.

Can you think of other scenarios where running more than one user account would be beneficial? Let’s hear it in the comments!

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thank you for the nice tip, it’s going to my bookmarks. ;-)


Can this be used for windows Vista ultimate? I am planning to use WVU soon and can I have 2-3 instances of Microsoft Outlook running at the same time? And without any problem? And does it provide any more security? For example if User One is using Outlook to send / receive customer emails and User 2 is using Outlook to send / receive supplier emails. So for the purpose of not sending original supplier data to customer, isn’t running multiple version of the same program an excellent idea??? What about firewalls and antivirus software, will they have to be installed for each user separately.

Thanks for your time and sorry for many questions.

Bob Goh

This tips is brilliant! How come I never thought of this before?


This is a great idea, but it doesnt seem to work with Windows Live Messenger.


This is a great idea, but it doesn’t seem to work with Windows Live Messenger..?


Ken : Since I don’t have Vista (and I don’t plan to get it either), I can’t help you out with the Vista question. Plus I don’t use Outlook so I can’t help you out there either. However, from a security point of view, I can assure you that everything is 100% secure. You don’t need to make any adjustments to your firewall or anti-virus software if all the versions of the software are on the same computer. Everything will be protected.

As for people mentioning it doesn’t work with MSN Messenger, well that’s news to me. I don’t use MSN Messenger either but it’s good to know this nevertheless. I wonder why this doesn’t work?

I’m sure you’ve worked this out already but in the article, I forgot to say that when you have your user accounts set up, you go to the link / icon of the program you want to run again and you RIGHT-CLICK on the link /icon to get the “run as” option. Somebody asked me how you got that little menu to pop up….

Ann Addison



Good tip … for Windows Live Messenger, there isn’t any “run as” option when right-clicked on the program shortcut/link … hmmm, wonder why, too.


Nice tip! But creating too many users may create lots of folders in Document and settings. But this is certainly a good hack that does not require any additional software or complicated hacks.

By the way, let me correct you, in English version Windows, instead of “System Setup”, it’s “Control Panel”.


Mark: Thanks. I also am having second thoughts about using vista. Anyway, I guess, we should be able to use your recommendation on xp without a glitch and it’s actually a news that it does not work on msn, so if anyone has a workaround, then that will be great.

Just TOL (thinking out loud), what if someone is using those programs which help us to use all IM programs at once, like you open one program (i am not sure if it is called Trilian) and then u can use, msn, yahoo, etc, etc… so has anyone given it a try? if using multiple instances of such a program, then can you also actually use the 2 instances of the msn at the same time, through the use of such programs.

anyone given it a try? will be nice to know.


I don’t use Windows Live Messenger, but generally you can get the “run as” option by holding down the shift button while right-clicking the program’s icon. Also, you can create shortcuts that will automatically start as another user. You will only be prompted for the password. I’ve done this at work. The instructions for doing this can be easily found with a Google search. Sometimes the syntax for the command can be tricky, but it’s not too hard to do. Just practice your “run as” command from the run box until you figure out what works.

Isaac G

Its called “Control Panel” instead of “System Setup”


Well it may not so obvious when you have non-English windows.


In German, the control panel is “systemsteuerung” which is “system setup”


I can’t get this to work and I’m not sure why. I have two logins on my laptop, Owner, with full admin access, guest, and another one I just created, called James. When I try the Run As command however, it only shows me the one called Owner. Also, I tried to rename the Owner login, to Administrator, but it told me I couldn’t as there was already one called that. It doesn’t show up in the User Accounts box though.

Can anyone shed any light on this for me please?


James : if it only shows one account (when there are more accounts on your PC) then it can only mean that you don’t have full administrator privileges on your Windows user account (an administrator can see everything). You need to be using a Windows account with full admin privileges. Try bringing the administrator account back to life by using the tutorial here –

Once you’ve done that, run Windows under the adminstrator account. You should now be able to see the other accounts under “run as”


how can you run multiple lines simultaneously off skype for a small business we would like to buy the linksys system that you plug into the router…thanks


Clarification – This MAY help James.
I had a few issues setting this up. However, I found that, once you have created the account, (say Mark2) it is necessary to enter the account forst to ‘propogate’ it. THEN it’s ‘real’ on your system and you can follow Mark’s instructions.

On the OUTLOOK side of things – I can confirm that NO, you cannot run multilple Outlooks using this method. I REALLY need to as I run 2 business and we are forever sending emails with the wrong signature or from the account. Never mind – back to the drawing board…


David : I hate to disagree with you but it is not necessary to “enter” the new account first (I assume you mean log into the account?). I have the main admin account and four extra accounts and I have never in the 8 months that I have had them set up, ever had to go into the four extra accounts. I just set them up on the Windows User Accounts screen and they were immediately good to go.

Ali Shehab

i need to open two emails on same massenger


im tryin to run a game on my machine twice… silkroadonline to p lvl my own chars… do you know if this method will work for that, if not do you know a way to get it to work

Mark O’Neill

I’m not a games expert so someone else will have to answer this. But a basic question would have to be how can you run two simultaneous games on the computer at the same time? Split monitor? Two monitors?

Dan Schafer

The simple answer for Windows gaming is No. The reason is slightly complex, and a possible solution is even more-so complex.

I’m guessing you are referring to full screen games, not windowed games like solitaire. Unfortunately this is basically impossible to do with Windows.

Here is a little more detailed explanation.

Technical Background: Windows handles multi-monitors like so. In WindowsXP there is a Primary monitor, and additional monitors may be enabled by extending the desktop to include these additional monitors. With a proprietary video card control panel and driver, these additional monitors can also be “clones” of the primary monitor, but there is still only one Primary monitor.

Problem #1: Games are generally programmed to run only on the Primary monitor. If the game does support multi-monitor (think flight sims), it usually spans across all the monitors. Say you have a Flight Sim running and subsequently load Madden. Madden will minimize the Flight Sim, and only run itself on the Primary monitor, blanking out the other monitors. The game has to be programmed to enable monitor mapping; this is not easy to accomplish, rarely do people want this functionality, so subsequently no one ever programs for it.

Problem #2: Windows only allows for one active Session at a time to interact with the graphics subsystem. The “Run As” feature runs a program for you using another user’s permissions, but still in your active Session. If you would try to do a “Switch User”, that program would not be active in their Session, only yours. So you cannot load the Flight Sim with your account and then do a Run As command to load Madden as a workaround. Since it is a process active in your Session, and it still has to obey problem #1.

Problem #3: One input device focus point. Since Windows only allows one active Session (think one user), there is no reason to have multiple cursors on the screen. Think of a laptop. You can have a touchpad, a nub mouse, a bunch of USB mice, and a few Bluetooth mice all connected, but you will only have one cursor/arrow. What about gamepads you say? Yes there are multiple input paths, but they always interact with one process at a time. If the Windows input handler doesn’t notice any reserved keystroke like “CTRL-ALT-DEL” or a globally registered hotkey, it passes the input to the window that has focus. So there is no way to interact with both games at the same time.

Solution: You need to have an operating system that will concurrently allow multiple input devices mapped to multiple Sessions, that are mapped to different Monitors, and have those different Sessions interact with your multiple game instances. This isn’t Windows.

Cheviot. I know about Remote Desktop Connection and Terminal Services and how it allows multiple users to have multiple Sessions on one Windows computer, but this is not what the question deals with. RDC and TS allow multiple computers or thin clients to run and view a session remotely, but the current user on the server machine still cannot view all of those sessions individually on that machine, only their active one.


Hum, this tip doesn’t work for me (XPSP2), even with logging into the newly created accounts to “propagate” them as said in another post.
Both accounts have administrator rights and I can’t get any of my VoIP clients to run more than once (SJPhone, X-Lite, 3CX Phone). Even if I begin with the “Run as…” and then try to launch the program normally.
Any idea?

Mark O’Neill

You don’t have to “propagate” them first – I have four extra accounts and I have never had to log into them first.

Without seeing your computer, I couldn’t begin to suggest what the problem might be. One possible problem though – maybe the program you are trying to launch doesn’t allow more than one instance at a time to be run? Maybe there is something in the code that prevents this hack from being carried out? Just a thought. If you have Skype, try that and see if it works.

Also you could check the accounts one more time to make sure that administrator rights really have been granted.

I have XP service pack 2 also and it works fine for me. But from a distance, I can’t begin to properly analyse your problem.


I’m facing the same issue with BroqueW, but while using X-lite application. I have tried all of your suggestions, for Skype,X-lite,Outlook,WMplayer etc, without any success. Do you think that it has to do with the registry or any service that is not enabled?



for gaming i usually go into properties from the desktop icon and in the target line at the end add this …. -multiple …. it will only open multiple instances if you access from desktop icon =) have fun!


I have been googling for this for last 2 hours and my search ends with this finest article. Many thanks its working with charm.


hi, this doesn’t seem to work with vista. right click menu only has ‘run as administrator’ no option to run program as another user. i tried loggin in as regular user and then running the prog as administrator but that didn’t work either. anyone?



Can u run multiple instance of VPN on same machin??
Try it out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I’ve been using this to run multiple instances of the windows timershot powertoy to record time lapse pictures from multiple webcams on the same computer. Works like a charm.


thank u darling..up to now im thinking installing a virtual box os like that something..

i have only 40gb ,,u saved me 2gb of space ..thank you


for none vista 64bit users JUST USE SANDBOXIE


Ya, for gaming you definitely need to run vmware so you can have truly individual instances. Otherwise you’ll get a hell of a lot of other problems.

The original account suggestion helped me boatloads in running multiple instances of autoit though. Thanks man!



I use this to run Two Instances of Google Calendar Sync.

One syncs my work account 1-way (googleCal to Outlook)
Two syncs my personal gmail account 2ways.

Then I use NemuSync to sync my iphone with my online google personal account.

I do this because I don’t work to see all my personal entries, and the iphone has no “private” entry capabilities, ++ I don I don’t necessarily need or want my work calendar to reflect my personal entries since I manage the conflicts manually and I’m always shuffling with work appointments being Priority number 1.


An other solution:

Instead of making many accounts, download program named sandbox on

Once sandbox is installed, all you have to do is right-click on any programs you want and then select “Run Sandboxed”

Twizt3d RaZr

worked perfectly for running multiple instances of a video chat program

thx for the tip!

Spencer Wallsworth

MSN windows live messenger might worked, I still didn’t get Guild Wars to show up more than once. Go to start > All Programs > windows live > windows live messenger. Right click it, you will see run as.


If you want to use multiple msn accounts at the same time just go to



hey i have a idea, but we need a pro in programming people. we can use autoit and make it can block some thing that block us open the same window.. but i no pro in programming autoit anyone can send me the command??


This can’t be use in windows vista.. I tried million times on how to run two or more same programs at the same time. I often to this in my old pc with XP OS. However, when I got new PC, I tried vista as it’s OS.. Damn! I’m really having hard time now doing the usual stuffs I know about when I still had the XP. I guess, I made a wrong choice for OS. It’s as if now, I’m a novice and computer illiterate.

Can somebody help me how to run two same programs at the same time with Vista?

Rob K

This looks like something I’m trying. Has anyone got a program to run two sessions simultaneously with each session looking at a dedicated USB port? I am trying to run a voice recording program to look after two phones via USB but only want to use a single PC.


for vista its so easy…just creat another account or activate your guest account..then after that go to your start up…and cho0s the switch user botton…their you go..wahahaha

i was able to open 2 wc3 wahahaha!!!!

remember to njot log out your real account!


taro ,thanks very good programe that Sandboxie ,i can now run the same program twice and play my games with 2 acounts at teh same time,i recomend it .lol


on windowa xp :)


mine just says: run as administrator

how do u do it???


it seems to doesnt work on xp sp3 :(


how i can tell you … you just save my ass :)


but i have to put all time run as i need shortcut that easy for me to he auto loc wich user have to run if you know



Thank You very much for the easy tip, i googled the net for 1 week searching for a way to run Multiple Versions of the Same Program but most articles sugest to install the Virtual machine software from microsoft and some other complications till i came to your post, i had my second version of the software running in less than a minute. Brilliant ! Thanks a lot for sharing.


get a patch called – APatch

sachin shrivas