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What Are Windows 7 Administrator Privileges and How Do I Use Them Safely?

written by: Nicholas•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 3/29/2010

Trying to do something in Windows 7 that asks for administrative privileges? This is a security precaution used to make sure that specific files, apps, processes, and other system changing tasks are only done safely.

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    Although Windows 7 administrator privileges are designed to keep Windows 7 more secure, they can be somewhat annoying for computer experts, software developers, or anyone who uses their PC a lot. For the less technical computer user, Windows 7 administrator privileges are designed as a security measure to prevent the changing of certain system files, apps, processes, and more.

    Windows 7 administrator privileges could mean one of several different things. Below you will find some common solutions that involve administrator privileges.

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    Administrator Accounts

    Windows 7 uses three basic account types that all have specific access, privileges, and features. These account types are: administrator, standard user, and guest.

    The administrator account is the most permissible of all the account types. With an administrator account, users can change or modify all files within Windows, adjust system defaults and Windows settings, and even manage other users.

    A standard user account is a basic account type that is more restricted than an administrator account. Standard users cannot adjust some files within Windows, cannot change deep system values, and cannot manage other users.

    The guest account is the most restricted of all account types and is normally used for public computers that have several users on a frequent basis.

    As mentioned above, you may need to be logged in as the administrator to perform certain tasks within Windows. If you only have one account on your PC, there is a heavy chance that it is the administrator account. The exception to this is if you have somehow disabled the administrator account. To check to see if you are logged in with the administrator account, click Start > Control Panel. From there, click the icon labeled User Accounts. You should now be on the Make changes to your user account screen. On the right hand side of this screen, there should be an account login picture and account name. If you are logged in as an administrator, the word Administrator will appear directly below the account name.

    You can create a new administrator account from with an existing administrator account. From this screen, click the Manage another account button. On the next screen, click the Create a new account button. Here, you will be able to enter an account name, and choose whether to give the account administrator privileges or standard privileges.

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    Run as Administrator

    In certain cases, you may need to run an application as the administrator for changes to take effect or other things to work. This is a very easy and straightforward process. To run as administrator, simply right-click on a program and select Run as administrator from the right-click menu. Please note, that this does not work for programs that are pinned to the taskbar, as right clicking on those items will not bring up the standard secondary menu. To try this out, open up Start Menu, select All Programs, open the Accessories folder, and right-click on notepad. Simply select Run as administrator from the menu, and Notepad should open. Very simple, and this will work for other programs as well.

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