How to enable the Administrator account in Windows 7


Updated: September 13, 2010

There are very few occasions where you may want or need to do this. But if you're a software developer or a security enthusiast, elevating privileges via UAC or using the Administrator mode may just not be enough.

In Windows 7, the Administrator account is hidden from view, to prevent ordinary users from ruining their machines. Unlike Windows XP, where you could boot into Safe mode and logon as the Administrator, no such function is present in Windows 7. Seemingly, there is no way to get the Administrator to show as an available user in the logon screen. Luckily, there is a very easy way to fix this. Let me show you.

Local policies

Do you remember my Group Policies tutorial for Windows XP? Well, it started there, the exploration into the powerful world of super-practical, cost-free security and system hardening, allowing you to customize your system to just about anything you want, at precisely zero system resource usage. Then in my Windows 7 security tutorial, part two, we discussed security policies once more. So you're familiar with the concept and know your way around.

To unhide the Administrator account, you will need to start the Group Policy editor, by running gpedit.msc from the command line. Or by running secpol.msc.

secpol.msc

And then, in the Local Security Policy window, navigate to Local Policies, Security Options and double click on Accounts: Administrator account status to toggle its state from Disabled to Enabled.

Admin account

Command line use

You can also execute this from the command line:

net user administrator /active:yes

cmd

You will have to run cmd.exe as Administrator:

Run as

Log off and you will see a new account present in the logon screen:

Welcome

Welcome, zoomed

Extras: for Windows XP users

I realized I've never discussed this .. So here it is:

http://windowsxp.mvps.org/admins.htm

Furthermore, if you're using a solution like SuRun, then you will have the Administrator account enabled in the welcome screen.

Important note

Remember! Using the administrator account should be done sparingly, like when running Windows Debugger against BSOD memory dumps or when initiating one for the sake of testing, like I did in my extensive Windows BSOD tutorial.

You are much better off with limited privileges, either via UAC or a genuine limited account. Clicking Yes when prompted should get the work done in 99% of cases. And when this does not work, starting the program as Administrator via right-click should be enough to cover the remaining 1%. That would be all.

Conclusion

There you go, a very short, very simple tutorial. Enabling the Administrator account is a very simple, quick deal. Plus, it has its merits, but you should not use it as your day-to-day account. Make sure you know what you're doing.

I hope you liked it.

Cheers.

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