As you know, the User Account Control (UAC) system is the heart and soul of the security system in Microsoft Windows 7. It is designed to protect your system from inadvertent or malicious incidents that could compromise stability or security while you are logged on using an account with administrative privileges, where you have full access to the system. Of course, you can perform administrative operations simply by working through the UAC prompt. Or, if you totally dislike the UAC system, you can also easily disable it. For example, you can select the Never Notify setting on the User Account Control Setting window.
However, there certainly are times when it would just be nice to log on to your Windows 7 system with a good old-fashioned, full-fledged Administrator account. When you do, you'll never encounter a UAC prompt.
In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll explain how you can activate and use the real Administrator account in Windows 7.This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery and TechRepublic download.
Now keep in mind that Microsoft has gone to great lengths to prevent you from using the real Administrator account and, as you can imagine, strongly discourages the technique I'm about to show you here. As such, I must emphasize that you should use the real Administrator account very sparingly -- never make it your default modus operandi! With that being said, I also have to warn you that you use this technique at your own risk.
Activating the account
While you might think that since Microsoft discourages the use of Windows 7's Administrator account, it is hidden deep within the bowels of the operating system. However, that's not the case at all. In fact, to find the Administrator account you have to look no further than the Local Users and Groups tool.To begin, open the Start menu, right-click the Computer icon, and select Manage from the context menu. When you see the Computer Management console, go to the navigation panel on the left and click the arrow next to Local Users and Groups to expand the branch. Then, click the Users folder. At this point you can see and select the Administrator account, as shown in Figure A.
Select the Administrator account.With the Administrator account selected, click More Actions under Administrator in the Actions panel on the right and select Properties from the menu, as shown in Figure B.
Use the More Actions menu to access the Properties command.When you see the Administrator Properties dialog box, just clear the Account Is Disabled check box, as shown in Figure C, and click OK.
The Administrator account is disabled by default.
Keep in mind that now that the Administrator Account is activated you can also work with the account in the User Accounts tool in the Control Panel.
Setting the password
By default, the Administrator account has a blank password, so the first order of business after activating the account is to set a password -- preferably a complex password consisting of at least eight characters and using uppercase, lowercase, and numbers or special symbols.With the Administrator account selected, click More Actions under Administrator in the Actions panel and select the Set Password command. You will be shown a warning that explains that resetting a password from outside the account itself can cause irreversible loss of information, as shown in Figure D.
When you select the Set Password command, you will see this warning.However, since the Administrator Account has never been used, you can click Proceed with impunity. When you do, you'll see the Set Password for Administrator dialog box, shown in Figure E, and can type the new password in both text boxes. Then, click OK.
You will be prompted to type the password for the Administrator account.
Stay on top of the latest Microsoft Windows tips and tricks with TechRepublic's Windows Desktop newsletter, delivered every Monday and Thursday. Automatically sign up today!
Logging in as the AdministratorNow that you've activated the Administrator Account and set the password, using the account is as simple as logging off. When the Log Off operation completes, you'll see the Welcome screen and a user icon for the Administrator Account, as shown in Figure F. To log on as the Administrator, just click the icon and provide the correct password.
You will now see the Administrator account on the Welcome page.
When you do, you'll never encounter a UAC prompt. Again, I must emphasize that you should use the real Administrator account sparingly and never make it your default mode of operation!
What's your take?
As you can see, it's a relatively easy operation to activate the real Administrator account in Windows 7 once you know the technique. Now that you know how it's done, are you likely to use the Administrator account? Have you disabled UAC? If so, do you think that you'll re-enable it and use this technique instead? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.