Starting with Windows Vista back in 2007, Microsoft made the very smart decision to limit the ability of applications to make key changes to a user’s PC. Only applications with administrator privileges could access important parts of Windows, and users had to specifically enable these apps to “run as administrator.”
This new policy, which continues today in Windows 8.1, wasn’t perfect, but it greatly increased the security of Windows as a whole. Unfortunately, it also caused problems with many software applications, especially older apps that were written at a time when administrator privileges could be assumed in most cases.
As a result, some applications require that users employ the “run as administrator” option in order to function properly, or at all. This is easy enough to do on an ad hoc basis with a simple right-click on an application’s executable, and a selection of the “run as administrator” command.
But if you frequently run a certain application that requires administrator privileges, it can be annoying to launch it with a right-click every time. Here are two ways to enable an application to always run with administrator privileges (or in “administrator mode”) in Windows. We’ll be using Windows 8.1 in our screenshots, but this tip applies to Windows Vista and Windows 7 as well.
Always Start an Application with Administrator Privileges
If you want all instances of a particular app to run in administrator mode, you can change the app’s compatibility settings. Navigate to the location on your hard drive where the application is installed (usually located in the applicable subfolder of the Program Files directory). Find the app’s primary executable. In our example, we’re using the video conversion software RipBot264, and its executable is RipBot264.exe.
Right-click on the app’s executable and select Properties, then click on the Compatibility tab. Here, you’ll find a number of options that may enable older software to run on modern versions of Windows. The feature we’re interested in, however, is Run this program as an administrator. This produces the same result as the option found in the right-click menu, but it makes the setting permanent, so that the app will always run in administrator mode regardless of how it’s launched.
Check the box and then click Apply. Click OK to close the properties window. Note that this change will only be enabled for the current user. If you have multiple users on your PC and want all of them to be able to run the application in administrator mode by default, click the Change settings for all users button before closing the properties window.
Start an Application with Administrator Privileges Only with a Special Shortcut
The steps above enable administrator mode across the board. But what if you want to enable it only in certain situations? For this scenario, you can create a unique shortcut that will launch an application with administrator privileges, but have the app launch with default privileges in every other instance.
To create a custom administrator mode shortcut, once again navigate to the application’s executable. Right-click and select Create shortcut. By default, the new shortcut will appear in the same directory as the source executable. Now right-click on the shortcut and select Properties.
In the Properties window, make sure you’re on the Shortcut tab and click the Advanced button. In the Advanced Properties window that pops up, check the box labeled Run as administrator. Click OK to close the Advanced Properties window, and OK again to close the shortcut Properties window. Now copy your shortcut to a convenient place and give it an appropriate name, which in our case might be “RipBot264 Admin.”
Whenever you run this shortcut, the application will run with administrator privileges, but if you launch the application through another shortcut that hasn’t been modified, or via the app’s executable itself, it will only run with standard privileges.
While these tips can make running apps that require administrator privileges easier, they can also expose your PC to greater risk. Applications with administrator privileges gain access to critical Windows locations and settings. If you allow a malicious application to run as administrator, you risk infecting your computer with malware, losing your data, or both. So, in short, be careful and only apply the tips above to applications that you know and trust.
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