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How to Enable the Hidden Windows 7 Admin Account Using the Registry

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Imagine you have a Windows PC with a single user account, and you just lost your password. Here’s how to enable the hidden Administrator account with nothing more than the install CD and some registry hacking magic so you can reset your password.

Normally if you wanted to enable the hidden administrator account from within Windows, you’d need access to an Administrator mode command prompt, but that won’t work if you don’t have access, right? This is a great way to quickly enable the hidden admin account so you can reset the password on your main account.

Note: This will require editing the registry which is risky. Proceed only if you know what you are doing and at your own risk.

Enabling the Hidden Administrator Account

Now prepare your Windows 7/Vista DVD and restart the computer with the DVD in the DVD Drive—you’ll want to boot from the DVD so you may need to change the boot order in the BIOS. Depending on your system you will need to press Del, F2, or F12.

After you’ve successfully booted from the DVD you’ll be presented with the language setting of the Windows setup. Click next.

Language Sellection

In the next screen click “Repair your computer” from the bottom left corner of the window. Now the setup will search for Windows installations then display them, choose the Windows you want and click next. The setup may try to search for problems and may ask you if you want to restore your computer, just click no. Finally you’ll arrive at the System Recovery Options window that looks like this:

System Recovery Options

Click Command Prompt. This will open up a command prompt window where you’ll have to type “regedit” and press enter. From this point on you have to be extra careful as one mistake might ruin your Windows and render it unusable. In the left side of the Registry Editor click “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” then in File menu click “Load Hive”.

Load the Hive

In the file name field type the following and hit enter.

%windir%\system32\config\SAM

Enter the file name

The hive needs a name, give it a name and remember it. For the purpose of this article we will name it “test” so replace it with the name you chose for the next steps. What you just did is load the SAM file into the Registry Editor so we can edit it. The SAM file is the Security Accounts Manager and contains encrypted information about the account names and passwords. Now that it’s loaded into the registry, navigate to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\test\SAM\Domains\Account\Users”. Click on “000001F4” and from the right side pane double-click the “F” entry.

Click on 000001F4 then F

A new window will open allowing you to edit the “F” entry. The line that starts with “0038” is what you want to edit. The value next to “0038” is “11”, replace it with “10”. Be careful not to change anything else. Just double click the “11” and type “10” then hit the OK button. “11” is for disabled and “10” for enabled.

Replace the 11 with 10

Back in the Registry Editor, from the left side click on the name you gave to the hive you loaded earlier and click “Unload Hive” from the File menu, restart the computer and you are done. The Administrator account is now enabled.

 


Have a question or a suggestion? Sound off in the comments.

Omar Hafiz is a geeky Linux user who loves customizing Ubuntu to fit his personal style. Whether it's the login screen or his Gnome panels, he's got them tweaked to perfection.

  • Published 09/28/11

Comments (40)

  1. MJ

    Great article as always. This could be useful for helping grand people who may forget their passwords easily.

  2. Flladi

    Perfect article. I will surely save it for my personal needs. Thanks!

  3. win

    It is great.

  4. mrhhug

    archive this one, easier than trinity – and thats saying something!

  5. Thane

    Awesome, this will help me break into my brother’s computer when he’s not around.

  6. Ntoms2468

    OMG!! Just open cmd on your pc OR in boot disc and type:
    net user administrator /active:yes
    straight away activate!

  7. Wadi Naw

    If the Administrator account already had a password? Just like the Windows XP.

  8. Vrymel

    Is this possible on Windows XP?

  9. Nathan

    I may be missing something here, but once you have access to the command prompt from the DVD, could you not just change the password of the user thats has forgotten their password using the ‘net user’ options?

    Im guessing that if you need to go and play around with the registry editor I am missing something big style lol!

  10. nova1

    excellent! this is why i come here every day!

  11. Omar Hafiz

    @Ntoms2468 and @Nathan

    Usin “net user” in CMD from the DVD won’t work.

    @Vrymel

    I never tried it in XP. You can try but make sure you backup SAM first and tell me your results.

  12. HackToHell

    You can do this via ubuntu also … :)

  13. Donald Mitchell

    why would a single user account on a pc need a password???? for safety??? a 357 work for me.

  14. New B

    Command ‘%windir%\system32\config\SAM’ not work for me b’cus it navigate to X:\Window\system32\config\SAM

    C:\windows\system32\config\SAM [This work for me]

    And one more important thing i found you can remove User’s(Administrator) password from this ;; i tried on VM and it works FINE :D

    Cheers

  15. Connor

    My favorite method is replacing sticky keys.exe with cmd.exe using Ubuntu live. Then when you boot up all you have to do is hit shift 5 times and net user into your account.

  16. Jun Sophea

    Perfect, I like that!! it is the interesting one that I never met.

  17. Deepak

    @Ntoms2468 : Agree with you !

    Run the command in administrative mode : “net user administrator /active:yes”

  18. rohit

    @Ntoms2468 :I too Agree with you ..

    but how do you again disable the account.. is it just by replacing the “yes” with “no” or what??

  19. A.R.C.

    gr8 article! was luking for this since many days…..in xp it’s by default enabled….Ctrl+Delete+Delete during startup and typing in administrator will give u access….(in XP)…..

  20. A.R.C.

    oh sorry, it’s ctrl+alt+delete (2)

  21. marc

    computercontrol -> local users and groups -> Administrator -> properties -> remove checkbox from “accout is disabled”

  22. Nkakawamba

    No Ctrl +Alt +Delete does not work in Windows XP .
    There is no way to use CMD b’cause you have no access !

  23. Marshall Neill

    Why go thru all that when all you have to do is open up the Command prompt with prompt as Administrator and enter net user administrator /active:yes
    Done.

  24. SpiroGyra

    Hmmm ….. HP Netbook i5 (Windows 7) with network access set up.
    Local user has admin access to machine.(not network admin rights)
    Password needs to be changed every 30 days.
    Time for PW change and screen with old PW and blocks for new PW and new PW confirm is shown.
    PW plus new PW and confirmation typed in.
    Access denied displayed.

    Any ideas before I have the dept IT folks check it out?

    Replies direct (copied to) to email would really be appreciated.

    Thanks.

    AAZ.

  25. Ron

    I’m not a computer tech but I work on computers for friends because, well not everyone is as curious as me.
    So many of them something seem to have a hard time remembering their own name much less a password. (my wife is the worst one)
    anyways, none of them call me for their password anymore since I changed all their passwords to “iforgot”

    This is very informative article. Thanks

  26. Rahul

    must say ..a nice trick … thankz for sharing

  27. Amila Udana Kalinga

    :D Why bother ? Follow these

    1. go to
    control panel -> administrative tools – > Computer Management -> Local Users and Groups -> Users

    2. Select Administrator , select properties and Un check Account is disabled.

    3. Now restart.

    :D simple

  28. Omar Hafiz

    @SpiroGyra

    I don’t understand your problem is and I can’t help you much here in the comments. Please use the forums and sure you will get much better help.

  29. abhinav

    is there anyway to do this without the install CD?? i have access to the admin account now n i know its password .. so how do i enable this account when logged on? please help

  30. Omar Hafiz

    @abhinav

  31. Omar Hafiz

    @abhinav

    You can enable the account from any command prompt. Right-click it and choose “Run as Administrator” and enter net user administrator /active:yes

  32. me

    Computer Management>(on left bar)Local Users and Groups>Users>Admin>enable. that simple. No cmd/regedit needed

  33. Ashok

    hello room !

    {METHOD APPLIES ONLY FOR WINDOWS 7}

    you can also hide the admin account although its enabled , u can do it like this !

    {AUTOMATIC METHOD}

    1. open run and type cmd (in admin mode)

    2. copy and paste this command :
    —————————–
    REG ADD “HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\SpecialAccounts\UserList” /v Administrator /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
    ———————————-
    3. hit enter and u should see a “Command Completed Successfully” message , thats it u r done !
    ——————————————————————————————————————————————–
    {MANUAL METHOD}

    1. open run and type : regedit (in administrator mode)

    2. navigate to :

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]

    3. u have to create a sub key “SpecialAccounts”

    4. now create another sub key UNDER “SpecialAccounts” , name this sub key as “UserList”

    5. now create a new DWORD called as “Administrator” and enter its value as “0″ ,

    6. now the account is enabled but u cant view it at the logon screen !

    ————————————————————-

    NOTE : U CAN ALSO HIDE ANY USER ON THE LOGON SCREEN , JUST REPLACE THE VALUE “Adminstrator” WITH THE ACCOUNT NAME U WANT TO DISABLE TO !

  34. Nat

    RE: Enabling the Hidden Administrator Account

    You said; In the file name field type the following and hit enter.

    %windir%\system32\config\SAM

    The hive needs a name, give it a name and remember it. For the purpose of this article we will name it “test” so replace it with the name you chose for the next steps.

    AGGGH! Me dummy…got lost! You didn’t show where “test” came up to be changed with my name.

  35. yonaz

    Nice article!

  36. Matt

    This little tip really saved me. I had tried OPH Crack and the Trinity pack and was unable to reset my password. The Trinity Rescue Kit could not enable the Admin account. I have used OPH Crack in the past, but this time neither could help me out. This is a brand new laptop and for some reason even though I had never set a password, I had gone through the initial Windows Update process, which downloaded a bunch of new software updates, then upon rebooting, was locked out of a brand new laptop. Using this process, I was able to enable the Admin account, logged into it, and cleared whatever password had been on my account. Several hours of trial and error resulted in this article, which saved the day. Thanks!

  37. Adrian

    Does this work with any windows 7 dvd around or it has to be done with the dvd which was used to install windows in first place?

    Since manufacturers don´t include a dvd nowadays I don´t have the one used to install windows in my computer but a friend of mine has a windows 7 dvd, can I use that one?

    Thanks

  38. Not Telling

    Weird when i load the hives it says it is in use or something. Help me!!!!! argh hmphgh !!! @! how do you do it in vista anyway? is it the same?

  39. Zach

    quick question, how did you take the screenshot of the windows install? plz answer!

  40. hey zach

    do you know about digital cameras ?

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