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Windows accounts are separated into Administrator and Standard levels. Standard accounts can make changes that only affect them on the computer, like making changes to the personalization options 10 Quick Ways to Customize & Personalize Windows 10 10 Quick Ways to Customize & Personalize Windows 10 Not all of Windows 10's default settings will float your boat. We show you all the possible ways to customize Windows 10 in a simple, step-by-step guide. Read More or installing software for themselves, but you need an Administrator account to change the clock, access protected system files, add users, and more.

Perhaps you’ve just tried to access something and were told you don’t have administrator rights. If you need to get admin privileges, here are several scenarios and what you can do about them.

Make Sure You’re Allowed Admin Rights

It sounds obvious, but perhaps you don’t have administrative privileges on a computer because the person managing it doesn’t want you to. On a corporate computer or one owned by your parents, friends, etc. you’ve probably been restricted to a Standard account so you can’t make major changes.

If you need admin access on someone else’s computer, ask them to make you a new account with admin rights. The following tips shouldn’t be used to break into a computer. Only use them to recover admin access should you lose it.

User Account Control: Know Your Rights

Windows uses the blue and yellow User Account Control (UAC) shield icon to designate computer functions that require admin privileges. If you try to take an action, you’ll see two different prompts depending on whether you’re an administrator or not.

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windows uac settings

Admins simply have to click Yes when asked if they want to allow a program to make changes. Standard accounts must type an Admin’s password to proceed. This lets you perform administrative functions without staying logged into one — a smart account management strategy 5 Tips for Managing Windows User Accounts Like a Pro 5 Tips for Managing Windows User Accounts Like a Pro Windows user accounts have evolved from isolated local accounts to online accounts with various privacy challenges. We help you sort out your accounts and find the settings that work for you. Read More . As long as you know an admin password, you can get through UAC prompts at any time.

If you want to elevate your Standard account to an admin account, first log in to another Admin account and open Settings. Visit Accounts and click the Family & other people tab. Select your account under Other People and click the Change account type button. Change it from Standard User to Administrator and you’ll have full privileges.

change user type windows

Make sure you haven’t disabled UAC The 6 Most Annoying Windows Features and How to Fix Them The 6 Most Annoying Windows Features and How to Fix Them Windows has plenty of issues. Here are annoyances every Windows users has to live with, and how to make them better. Read More , either. Doing so will prevent Standard accounts from even seeing UAC prompts, so trying to take admin actions will fail with no notification. Type UAC into the Start Menu and click Change User Account Control settings. Make sure the slider is not set to the bottom option of Never Notify. The second option from the top is the default and should work fine.

If You’ve Forgotten the Account Password

One situation where you can’t log in to an admin account occurs when you lose your password. Thankfully, all is not lost if the password has slipped your mind.

We’ve covered how to reset a Windows admin password 4 Simple Ways to Reset Your Windows Admin Password 4 Simple Ways to Reset Your Windows Admin Password Locked out because you've forgotten your Windows administrator password? Follow these tips to get back in. Read More . If you use a Microsoft account for the admin account, it’s easy to reset your password via Microsoft’s portal Why You Can’t Access Your Locked Microsoft Account Why You Can’t Access Your Locked Microsoft Account We attempt to help you to work out why your attempts to unlock your Microsoft account have failed. Read More . Local accounts have several other methods for resetting a password 3 Ways to Reset a Forgotten Windows Administrator Password 3 Ways to Reset a Forgotten Windows Administrator Password Forgetting your computer password is scary, but you still have options. Here are three easy methods to reset your Windows administrator password and get back into your computer. Read More , but they take some work. Once you recover your account password, you’ll be back in with full admin rights, just like before.

Temporarily Access the Windows Administrator Account

Since Windows Vista and the advent of UAC, Windows ships with the built-in Administrator account disabled. This is to protect your PC, as the default Administrator account can take any action on your computer without boundaries. Needless to say, malware getting ahold of this would be catastrophic.

You can visit a few utilities to give admin access back to your own account, but none of them will work if you’re not an administrator yourself. Depending on what your exact problem is with admin rights (maybe you can accept UAC prompts but not access other user’s files), you might still be able to enable the built-in admin account.

In our guide to the Windows Administrator account Windows Administrator Account: Everything You Need to Know Windows Administrator Account: Everything You Need to Know Starting with Windows Vista, the built-in Windows Administrator account is disabled by default. You can enable it, but do so at your own risk! We show you how. Read More , we covered the easiest method for enabling it.

Give it a try by typing cmd into the Start Menu, then right-clicking it and choose Run as administrator. If you’re able to accept the UAC prompt, great! Enter this line to enable the built-in Admin account:

net user administrator /active:yes

Now, just log out of your account and you’ll see Administrator as an option. It has no password, so you’re free to log in and perform any function you like.

Built-In Account Workaround

If you try to open an elevated Command Prompt as above and can’t due to a lack of admin rights, you’ll have to enable the Administrator account using a workaround.

Refer to our in-depth guide on resetting your Windows password How to Reset Your Lost Windows 10 Password How to Reset Your Lost Windows 10 Password You forgot your Windows 10 login password? Don't despair! We'll show you how to reset your password and recover your account. Read More , as it contains instructions on a workaround for enabling the Admin account if you can’t do so normally How to Unlock the Secret Administrator Account in Windows How to Unlock the Secret Administrator Account in Windows Administration rights are now handled by User Account Control in Windows, but the hidden Administrator account is powerful. Here's how to enable it. Read More .

Fixing Your Own Account

Once you’ve logged in with the Administrator account, you can use Windows tools to fix the problems 13 Troubleshooting Tools to Fix Windows 10 13 Troubleshooting Tools to Fix Windows 10 For every Windows issue, there's a tool you can use to fix it. Find your problem in this list and pick one of the 13 troubleshooting and repair tools for Windows 10. Read More on your own admin account. Start by visiting the same accounts page as before in Settings to make sure your account is indeed an admin.

Go to Settings > Accounts > Family & other people. Click your account name under Other People and then hit the Change account type button. Change the drop-down box from Standard User to Administrator if it’s not already.

Another way of doing this works via the User Accounts page. Type netplwiz into the Start Menu to access it. Here, you’ll see a list of every user on your machine. Click one and hit the Properties button, then select the Group Membership tab. You can change an account from Standard to Administrator. The Other option contains lots of other account types that aren’t common outside of business use.

windows user accounts panel

There’s one other place you should check to make sure you aren’t missing any rights. Open a File Explorer window to This PC (the Windows key + E shortcut does it instantly). Under Devices and drives, right-click on your primary hard drive and choose Properties. This is likely the one labeled C:.

In this window, switch to the Security tab. Next, click the Advanced button near the bottom. You’ll see the full list of permissions for each group of users on your PC. This will vary if you’ve made changes, but here’s an idea of what a normal permissions list should look like:

windows disk advanced security settings

Make sure that the Administrators group has Full Control listed for Access. If it doesn’t, that’s what’s preventing you from viewing files. Click the Change permissions button first to make changes, then double-click on a group to modify it. Make sure to tick the Full control box for the Administrators group. Remember, you shouldn’t change anything here you’re not sure about.

Congrats, You’re an Admin!

We’ve covered the most common solutions for gaining administrative rights. Whether you’ve disabled UAC, forgotten your password, or are suffering from strange file settings, these methods let you recover admin rights and control your PC again.

If you continue to have issues, we recommend starting fresh with a new account Fix Windows Issues by Creating a New User Account Fix Windows Issues by Creating a New User Account Have you been troubleshooting a Windows issue to no avail? Creating a new user account could be your last resort. It's tricky, but we'll show you how to do it right. Read More . And make sure that other users on your PC can’t access admin features by locking them down How to Lock Down Windows User Accounts How to Lock Down Windows User Accounts Letting people use your computer while you're gone could lead to problems. We show you how to restrict Windows features on standard or child accounts so others can't access sensitive info. Read More .

What scenario applied to your lack of admin rights? Was your problem fixed with one of the above solutions? Let us know if you had a different issue by leaving a comment!

Image Credits: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock

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  1. Jamookie
    September 6, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Awesome. Use these same tips for when you lock yourself out of your house. Like: If you lock yourself out, go to your bedroom and grab your spare keys. If you can't get to your bedroom because your locked out, take your spare keys from the bedroom to the general store and make a spare key, then use the copy to get your spare keys from your bedroom.

    • Sam Sung
      September 6, 2017 at 10:29 pm

      Summarizes the article accurately. Bonus: the above-mentioned tricks should not be used to break into somebody else's house.

    • Sam Sung
      September 6, 2017 at 10:31 pm

      An accurate summary of the article. Also added tip, the above-mentioned tricks should not be used to break into someone else's house.