One of the most confusing aspects of using a modern version of Windows is distinguishing between the administrator account and an account with administrative privileges. Starting with Windows Vista and progressing to Windows 7, the operating system treats running applications as administrator very differently than in previous versions.
One of the problems with Windows XP was that standard users had their hands tied when it came to doing things that were reserved only for administrators. However, accounts with administrator privileges had unrestricted access to everything on the PC. This created two security vulnerabilities.
First, the standard user account was so restricted that most people put all their accounts on an XP computer with administrator privileges. Second, a hijacked account with administrator privileges had no way of protecting itself from running unauthorized programs or accessing private folders. However, with Windows Vista and 7, Microsoft has made an ingenious trade-off between too many and too few restrictions.
Admin Approval Mode
To combat the privilege problem of previous operating systems, the software giant only gave the administrator account full, unrestricted access to all aspects of the PC. An account with administrative privileges technically acts like a standard user account until an action is required that requires administrative privileges. At that point, the account will temporarily go into admin approval mode and revert to the default user mode after the action is completed.
This method of standard user versus user with administrator privileges increases security and prevents unauthorized applications from being launched. Unfortunately, Microsoft went a bit overboard in Windows Vista by requiring just about everything to have administrative privileges. With Windows 7, Microsoft put an end to the annoying messages and created a balanced experience for users of accounts with administrative privileges.
However, if security isn’t a big issue for your PC, you can disable the administrator approval mode and let your accounts with administrator privileges act as if they were the administrator account. By sacrificing security for convenience, you can make an administrator account work in Windows 7 as freely as it does in Windows XP.
Disable Administrator Approval Mode
Log in to Windows with an account with administrator privileges. Then click Start>All Programs>Administrative Tools>Local Security Policy†
This opens the Local Security Policy options window where you can change many functions of Windows operation.
In the left pane of the Local Security Policy window, click on the Local Policies folder and then the Security options folder. Now you should see numerous options available to you in the right pane.
In the right pane, find an option titled User Account Control: Run all admins in admin approval mode†
Right click on this option and select Properties from the menu. Note that the default is: Switched on† Choose the Handicapped option and then click Okay†
Windows 7 tells you that you need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect. Restart your PC and the next time you log in with an administrator account, the administrator approval mode will be disabled.
When it comes to administrator accounts, Microsoft’s trade-off between security and usability is much better in Windows 7 than in previous versions of the operating system. However, by disabling the administrator approval mode, you can force Windows 7 to keep all accounts belonging to the administrator group at the administrator level.
They will no longer sink into standard user mode, where the administrator must approve all actions that require higher-level permissions.