You’ve probably encountered the term “Run as administrator” at some time if you use Windows 10. But what exactly does this mean? Here’s why it matters, how it works, and when you should use it.
Administrators have complete access to the system
In Windows, there are two kinds of accounts: standard user accounts and administrator user accounts. Administrator accounts can alter system settings and get access to elements of the operating system that is generally prohibited. (Although there is a secret account called “Administrator,” any account can be an administrator.)
The goal of an administrator position is to allow modifications to specific components of your operating system that might otherwise be harmed by a normal user account by accident (or malicious activity).
If you have your own PC and it is not handled by your employer, you are most likely using an administrator account. (To verify your administrator status, go to Settings > Accounts > Your Info; if you’re an administrator, you’ll see “Administrator” underneath your name here; if you have additional accounts set up on your Windows 10 PC, go to Settings > Accounts > Family & other users to see whether they’re administrators.)
However, even if you have an administrator account on Windows, not every application requires full administrator privileges. In reality, this is dangerous for security—your web browser should not have complete access to your operating system. Even when launched from an administrator account, User Account Control (UAC) limits the capabilities that apps have.
When you select “Run as Administrator,” UAC is bypassed, and the application is launched with full administrator access to the whole system.
When you launch an app as an administrator, you are granting the program unique capabilities to access restricted areas of your Windows 10 system that would otherwise be inaccessible. This poses significant risks, but it is also occasionally required for certain apps to function properly.
When Do I Need to Run Apps as an Administrator?
If a program isn’t operating as it should, you should try running it as an administrator to see if it solves the problem. This is especially true for utility programs that may require deep access to perform file system diagnostics, set up storage devices, or alter the settings of specific devices present in your system.
Which Apps Have the Ability to Run as an Administrator?
Administrator privileges are only available to programs written for the traditional Win32 and Win64 APIs. Traditionally, this refers to programs written for Windows 7 and older, however, many newer Windows apps are still supported in this manner. UWP (Universal Windows Platform) programs, such as those available via the Microsoft Store—cannot be run as administrator.
How Do I Run Applications as an Administrator?
To start a Windows 10 program as an administrator, go to the Start menu and choose the app from the list. Select “More” from the menu that appears after right-clicking the app’s icon. Select “Run as administrator” from the “More” option.
Create a shortcut to the program on your desktop, taskbar, or in File Explorer if you want to constantly launch it as an administrator. Right-click the shortcut and choose “Properties.” In the Properties window that appears, navigate to the “Compatibility” tab and check the box next to “Run this application as an administrator.”
Finally, shut the Properties window. Now, whenever you start the app from that shortcut, it will always run with administrator capabilities.
If you hit Ctrl+Shift+Enter while executing the software, you may also execute it as an administrator through the “Run” box (accessible by typing Windows+R).