Tip: Configure Applications to Always Run as an Administrator

Windows 7 also allows you to mark an application so that it always runs with administrator privileges. This is useful for resolving compatibility issues with legacy applications that require administrator privileges. For instance, say you have an application written for Windows XP that requires administrator privileges. Because this program is configured to use standard mode by default under Windows 7, the program isn’t running properly and is generating numerous errors. As a temporary solution, you can mark the application to always run as an administrator. This is also handy if, say, you have a UAC-compliant application that normally runs in standard mode but that you use to perform administration tasks.

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To mark an application to always run as an administrator, do the following:
1. On the Start menu, locate the program that you want to always run as an administrator.
2. Right-click the application’s shortcut, and then click Properties.
3. In the Properties dialog box, click the Compatibility tab.
4. Do one of the following:

  • To apply the setting to the currently logged-on user, select the Run This Program As An Administrator check box, and then click OK.
  • To apply the setting to all users on the computer and regardless of which shortcut is used to start the application, click Change Setting For All Users to display the Properties dialog box for the application’s .exe file, select the Run This Program As An Administrator check box, and then click OK twice.

The application will now always run using an administrator access token. Keep in mind that if you are using a standard account and prompting is disabled, the application will fail to run.

NOTE that you cannot mark system applications or processes to always run with administrator privileges. Only non-system applications and processes can be marked to always run at this level. And if the Run This Program As An Administrator option is not available, it means the application is blocked from always running at an elevated level, the application does not require administrator credentials to run, or you are not logged on as an administrator.

For the sample given above—an application written for Windows XP that requires administrator privileges—you could also resolve the compatibility problem using the Windows Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) version 5.5 or later to create an application compatibility shim. ACT is a solution for administrators that requires no reprogramming of an application and can help you resolve common compatibility problems. For example, you can create a shim that responds to an application inquiry about the operating system or user level with a True statement, which allows the application to run. ACT also can help you create more in-depth solutions for applications that try to write to protected areas of the operating system or use elevated privileges when they don’t need to. You can download the latest version of ACT from the Microsoft Download Center.

From the Microsoft Press book Windows 7 Administrator’s Pocket Consultant by William R. Stanek.

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