Launch Windows Explorer with administrative privileges on Windows XP Pro

Do you ever need to perform an on-the-fly administrative task, but you're not on your computer? If the computer runs Internet Explorer 6 or 7, here's how you can launch Windows Explorer with administrative privileges on a Windows XP Pro limited user machine.

When you're working on a user's computer and need to perform an administrative task from within her Windows XP Pro limited user account, you can use the Run As command to launch certain utilities with administrative account privileges.

However, if you try to use Run As to launch Windows Explorer with administrative privileges, nothing happens. This is because Explorer.exe is already running and only one instance of Explorer can run at a time. More specifically, when you launch Explorer.exe, the first thing it does is check to see if it is already running. When the second instance of Explorer.exe sees that the first instance of Explorer.exe is already running, the second instance of Explorer.exe closes without any outward notification. Here's how you can work around it.

Internet Explorer 6

Internet Explorer 6 will work with Run As and will allow you to tap into Windows Explorer. Here's how:

  1. Right-click the Internet Explorer icon in the Quick Launch toolbar and choose Run As. (Keep in mind that you cannot access Run As from the Internet Explorer icon that appears on the desktop or on the Start menu.)
  2. Fill in the appropriate administrative account credentials in the Run As dialog box.
  3. When Internet Explorer launches, type C:\ in the Address bar.

After you follow these steps, Windows Explorer will appear in the same window, and it will be running with administrative privileges.

Internet Explorer 7

If you're using Internet Explorer 7, the steps for Internet Explorer 6 won't work because, as part of the new security features in version 7, Internet Explorer is no longer integrated with Windows Explorer. You must use the standard method for launching Windows Explorer with administrative privileges. Here's how:

  1. Log on to the computer with the Administrator account.
  2. Access the Control Panel and launch Folder Options.
  3. When you see the Folder Options dialog box, select the View tab.
  4. Scroll down the Advanced Settings list and select the Launch Folder Windows In A Separate Process check box, click OK, and then log off.

The next time you work on that user's computer and need to perform an administrative task from within her limited user account, you can use Run As to launch Windows Explorer with administrative privileges.

Note: This tip only applies to Windows XP Professional.

Miss a tip?

Check out the Windows XP archive, and catch up on our most recent Windows XP tips.

Stay on top of the latest XP tips and tricks with our free Windows XP newsletter, delivered each Thursday. Automatically sign up today!