How to Set Your Windows Account for Administrator Access

By Dan Gookin

If you tire of typing the administrator’s password, you can reset your account level to a higher one. Technically, you’re resetting the account level from Standard or Limited to Administrator. This can be done in Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

Here’s how to set your account to Administrator level in Windows 7 and Windows Vista:

  1. Display the User Accounts window.

    • In Windows 7, choose the heading User Accounts and Family Safety and then choose User Accounts.

    • In Windows Vista, choose the heading User Accounts and then choose User Accounts.

  2. Choose Change Your Account Type.

  3. Type the administrator’s password (for the last time) to continue.

  4. Choose Administrator.

  5. Click Change Account Type.

  6. Close the User Accounts window when you’re done.

In Windows XP, follow these steps for the Administrator account upgrade:

  1. Open the Control Panel’s User Accounts icon.

  2. Click your account’s icon, found at the bottom of the window.

    The window changes to display detailed information about your account.

  3. Choose Change My Account Type.

  4. Choose Computer Administrator.

  5. Click Change Account Type.

  6. Close the User Accounts window.

Microsoft recommends that you run the computer as a Standard or Limited user. But that is not necessary or even desirable, especially when you’re the only one using the computer. In Windows Vista specifically, using a Limited account adds a level of complexity that is utterly unnecessary for a typical user.

On the other hand, when other people use your computer, you should set their accounts to Standard or Limited. The level of security offered by making their accounts non-administrator-level may be enough to protect your PC from being accidentally infected with malware and helps prevents others from unintentionally changing basic computer settings.

  • You cannot downgrade your account from Administrator. To do that, you have to create a new Standard or Limited account, copy over your files, and then delete your original Administrator account.

  • The whole idea behind account levels is to limit access to key computer functions to only authorized users. The history of DOS and then Windows demonstrates that Microsoft doesn’t understand how necessary the function is. Rather than have a key, superuser account, as with the root account in Unix, you have Standard/Limited and Administrator accounts in Windows.