If you are using Windows 10, you have no doubt ever seen the phrase “Run as administrator”. But what does it mean? This is why it matters, how it works and when to use it.
Administrators have full system access
There are two types of accounts in Windows: standard user accounts and administrator accounts. Administrator accounts can configure system settings and access normally restricted areas of the operating system. (There is also a hidden account called ̵
The purpose of an administrator role is to allow changes to certain aspects of your operating system that could otherwise be accidentally (or through malicious action) damaged by a normal user account.
If you have your own PC and it is not managed by your workplace, you are probably using an administrator account. (You can check your administrator status by going to Settings> Accounts> Your details. If you are an administrator, you will see ‘Administrator’ under your name here. If you have other accounts set up on your Windows 10 PC, you can go to Settings> Accounts> Family & other users to see if they are administrators.)
But even if you are using an administrator account on Windows, not every application needs full administrator permissions. In fact, that’s bad for security: your web browser should not have full access to your entire operating system. User Account Control (UAC) limits the permissions that applications have, even when you start them from an administrator account.
Using “Run as Administrator” gets rid of UAC and runs the application with full administrative access to everything on your system.
So when you run an app as an administrator, it means you are giving the app special permissions to access restricted areas of your Windows 10 system that would otherwise be prohibited. This presents potential dangers, but it is also sometimes necessary for certain programs to work correctly.
(If you want to read more about the technical aspects of how the administrator account works, this Stack Overflow thread is very useful.)
RELATED: Enable the (hidden) administrator account on Windows 7, 8 or 10
When should I run apps as an administrator?
If an app isn’t working as you’d expect, you may want to run it as an administrator and see if that fixes the problem. This is especially the case with utilities that may require deep access to run diagnostics on your file system, configure storage devices, or change the settings of certain devices installed on your system.
Which apps can run as an administrator?
Only apps programmed for the old Win32 and Win64 APIs can run as an administrator. Traditionally, this means apps made for Windows 7 and earlier, but many modern Windows apps are still maintained that way. Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps – such as apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store – cannot run as an administrator.
RELATED: Why (most) desktop apps are not available in the Windows Store
How do I run apps as an administrator?
To use a Windows 10 app as an administrator, open the Start menu and find the app in the list. Right-click on the app’s icon and select “More” from the menu that appears. From the ‘More’ menu, select ‘Run as administrator’.
To always use an app as an administrator, create a shortcut to the app on your desktop or taskbar, or in File Explorer. Right-click on the shortcut and select ‘Properties’. In the properties window that appears, click the “Compatibility” tab and place a check next to “Run this program as an administrator”.
Then close the Properties window. Anytime you launch the app from that shortcut, always run it with administrator privileges.
You can also run a program as an administrator from the “Run” box (accessed by pressing Windows + R) if you press Ctrl + Shift + Enter while running the app. Good luck!
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