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Access a hidden administrator account in Windows Vista

For security reasons, administrator accounts in a Windows Vista operating system are hidden by default. It is however possible to access hidden administrator accounts. The hidden administrator account needs to be accessed in order for the user to be able change settings. Once these changes are made, it is advisable to disable the administrator account for safety reasons. There are three ways to access the hidden administrator account. The administrator account can be activated through User Account Control, or through the Command Prompt. The administrator account can also be activated by using safe mode when booting the PC.

This article explains why an administrator account in Microsoft Vista is disabled, and provides ways of activating it. It also discusses the differences between activating the account the Pro and the Home versions.

This article provides three ways of activating the account, as well as ways of deactivating or disabling the account once all the necessary changes have been made. With screenshots, it illustrates the disabling of an account in both Pro and the Home versions. It also explains why having two administrator accounts can pose a problem.

Access a hidden administrator account in Windows Vista

If you are used to the built-in administrator account in the previous versions of Windows, you may be surprised to find it missing in your Control Panel under the User Accounts section in Windows Vista. This option does exist, but has been hidden by default.

How to activate the administrator account

Solution 1: Through User Account Control

  • 1. Go to your Start menu and right-click on the My Computer icon.
  • 2. Choosing Manage from the list will prompt a User Account Control (UAC).
  • 3. When you have finished, the Computer Management console will appear. Expand the Local Users and Groups option with the use of the arrow next to it and select the Users folder.
  • 4. Select Administrator Account and go to the Actions panel, then select More Actions.
  • 5. Choose Properties to open the Administrator Properties dialogue box and untick the option labeled Account is Disabled.
  • 6. When done, click OK to confirm the changes.
  • 7. The administrator account should now be present on your log in-screen.

Solution 2: With Command Prompt

  • 1. Go to your Start menu and in Accessories list, open Command Prompt by right-clicking on its icon and choosing Run as Administrator
  • 2. When the Command Prompt window appears, enter the command net user administrator /active:yes
  • 3. When you have finished, log out from your current account.
  • 4. The administrator account should now be present on your log-in screen.

Solution 3: With Safe Mode

  • 1. You need to restart your computer to be able to boot in Safe Mode .
  • 2. When the Windows screen appears, press the F8 key.
  • 3. Go to Microsoft Windows using your keyboard arrows.
  • 4. Instead of pressing the Enter key, press the F8 key again to display the Safe Mode boot screen.
  • 5. Choose Safe Mode from the list and press the Enter key.
  • 6. You will be taken to the log-in screen that will display the Administrator account icon among your other current account/s.

How to disable the administrator account

Once you have made the necessary changes with the administrator account, it is advisable to deactivate this option again. To do so:
  • 1. Log out from the administrator account and log in with another user account.
  • 2. Go to the Start menu and in the Accessories list, select Command Prompt.
  • 3. In the window that appears, enter the command net user administrator /active:no
  • 4. Your log-in screen should now display only your common user accounts.

For Pro versions (or integrals), Local Users and Groups is the easiest option

  • In the search bar in the Start menu, type lusrmgr.msc and validate.
  • Click Users.
  • In the right-side window, go to Administrator Properties and untick the box "Account is disabled"

Two steps to follow for Home versions

  • Create the Administrator key in the registry.
  • Enable the administrator account.

Problem encountered

Upon activating the hidden administrator account, it is recommended that this account be used as the primary one (there's no point in keeping two admin accounts if you are the sole user).

It may happen that upon installing a particular application on the other admin account, you are unable to launch it. If you try to uninstall it or try to launch it again, the system will prompt you with error messages such as:
  • Please quit xxx before uninstalling.
  • Unable to launch a second copy of xxx.

This simply means that the application is already running.

In this case, simply switch users and run the application on the hidden administrator account.

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