Sometimes you want or need a program to automatically run with elevated privileges as soon as you sign into Windows, but how do you set something like this up? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has some helpful advice for a frustrated reader.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

Screenshot courtesy of Acid Pix (Flickr).

The Question

SuperUser reader Frederick Zhang wants to know how to automatically run a program with administrator privileges upon user login:

I am using Windows 8.1 (64-bit) and I would like to automatically run a program with administrator privileges upon user login.

I tried to make a shortcut of the program and ticked the run as administrator check box in the properties of the program shortcut itself, then tried placing the shortcut in the two locations shown below, but ticking the box just made it invalid.

  • C:\Users\MyUser\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
  • C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp

Then I edited the program using Resource Hacker to modify its manifest so that administrator privileges were required to run this program. This also made shortcuts under start up directories invalid. After that, I tried to add the program to the following location as well, but it did not work, either.

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

How can I automatically run a program with administrator privileges on user login?

How would you automatically run a program with administrator privileges upon user login?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Syberdoor has the answer for us:

The best way to do this (and the only simple way if you not only want this to run with administrator privileges, but also without UAC prompts) is by creating a scheduled task. With a scheduled task, you can specify which user you want to run it under and that it should run with the highest privileges.

This is probably what you really want because the check box button run as administrator in shortcut properties does trigger UAC prompts rather than really using an administrative user. If you also specify a trigger as on user logon, it should have the same effect as using the startup or run key.

Alternatively, you can use run as with the save credentials option to store the password of another user once and have it cached forever, but it does not work around UAC prompts as far as I know.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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