Microsoft

Will the real Windows Vista Administrator account please stand up?

The Windows Vista User Account Control (UAC) system, the heart of Vista's security system, is designed to protect your OS from inadvertent or malicious incidents that could compromise stability or security while you are logged on as the Administrator with full access to the system. You can perform administrative operations in Vista simply by working through the UAC prompt. If you dislike the UAC system, you can easily disable it through the Disable command on the Tools menu of the System Configuration tool. However, there are times when it would be nice to log on to your Vista system with a good old-fashioned Administrator account. Here's how you can activate and use the real Administrator account in Vista.

Caveats

Remember that Microsoft has gone to great lengths to prevent you from using the real Administrator account in Vista and, in fact, strongly discourages the technique I'm about to show you. You should use the real Administrator account very sparingly — never make it your default modus operandi! Please note that you use this technique at your own risk.

Activating the account

You might think that because Microsoft discourages the use of Vista's Administrator account that it would be hidden deep within the bowels of the operating system, but that's not the case. In fact, to find the Administrator account, you have to look no further than the Local Users And Groups tool. Follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the Computer icon on the Start menu and select Manage from the context menu. When you do, you'll encounter a UAC, and you will need to respond accordingly.
  2. Once you see the Computer Management console, go to the navigation pane and click the arrow next to Local Users And Groups to expand the branch. Then, click the Users folder and select the Administrator Account.
  3. With the Administrator Account selected, click More Actions under Administrator in the Actions panel and select Properties from the context menu. When you see the Administrator Properties dialog box, clear the Account Is Disabled check box and click OK.

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. When you do so, you will see a warning that explains that resetting a password from outside the account can cause irreversible loss of information. However, since the Administrator account has never been used, you can click Proceed with impunity. When you do, you will need to fill in the blanks in the Set Password dialog box and then click OK.

Logging in as the Administrator

Now 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. To log on as the Administrator, click the icon and enter the password.

Again, I must emphasize that you should only use the real Administrator account sparingly and never make it your default modus operandi!

What's your take?

It's a relatively easy operation to activate the real Administrator account in Vista once you know the technique. Now that you know how it's done, are you likely to use the Vista Administrator account? Have you disabled UAC? If so, do you think that you'll re-enable it and use this technique instead? Please drop by the discussion area and share your thoughts on the Administrator account technique and UAC in general.

About

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.

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