How-To Geek

4 Ways to Make UAC Less Annoying on Windows 7 / Vista

The single biggest irritation in Windows 7 and Vista is the UAC (User Account Control) system, especially for people that do a lot of tweaking. When you are trying to make configuration changes, it seems like every couple of seconds you are hitting another UAC prompt. Sure, it’s more secure… but what options do we have to make it less annoying?

There are at least 4 different ways that we can tweak UAC to be less annoying, most of which I’ve written about before.

Note: Disabling or modifying UAC is a security risk. If you want to be as secure as possible, you should likely leave things alone.

1) Disable UAC Entirelyimage

The first thing that you can always do is completely disable UAC… the only problem with this is that you’ll end up making the system less secure if you are also the type of person that downloads and tests a lot of software. I can’t recommend that you do this, but at least you know that you have the option to.


2) Auto-Accept UAC Prompts for Administrators Only image

If you want to leave UAC enabled, but disable the prompts from showing up under your administrator account, you  can tweak a setting that will “Elevate without prompting”, so you never see the prompt show up. This is more secure than disabling UAC entirely, because an application started as a regular user can’t perform an action that is meant for administrators. For instance, Internet Explorer can still run in protected mode this way.

Disable UAC Prompts for Administrators Only


3) Disable the Blackout Screen (Secure Desktop)image

The most annoying part of UAC for me is the screen that blacks out everything other than the UAC prompt… because it usually takes forever to show up, and depending on your video card it can do weird things with your desktop. You can disable the secure desktop feature but leave the UAC prompts the way they are… of course this is potentially a security hole as well, since an application could fraudulently “click” the prompt for you. (Secure desktop prevents applications from doing this)

Make UAC Stop Blacking Out the Screen in Windows Vista


4) Create Administrator Mode Shortcuts Without UAC Promptsimage

Instead of disabling UAC in any way, what we can do is setup a few shortcuts that bypass UAC entirely. This is especially useful if you open a particular administrator-mode application a dozen times per day. The trick to this is using task scheduler to launch the applications, and then telling task scheduler to run the task. This is more secure than the other options, since only our special shortcut will bypass UAC.

Create Administrator Mode Shortcuts Without UAC Prompts


Extra: Make sure to Install (at least) Vista Service Pack 1

If you haven’t already installed Service Pack 1 or later, you should make sure that you install it… one of the fixes included will limit the number of UAC prompts you have to click through to modify system files.

I’m curious what percentage of our readers have actually disabled UAC. I personally am using method #4, since it’s the best in terms of security, but also eliminating the annoyance for the couple of applications I launch a dozen times per day.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/15/08

Comments (62)

  1. Bytes

    #4 is dangerous. The Black screen is because Vista loads a secure desktop. This way an application can’t do this:
    “Send keyboard key left”
    “Send Keyboard key ENTER”
    And bypass the dialog box, and has fun on your system.
    Doing such thick would just as bad as disabling UAC. So far since UAC, attacks from executable files that has an identity crisis and is a picture, type of attack that screw with your system, doesn’t effect people that run Vista, as they see something is wrong when opening that file (you get that UAC prompt). Granted WE are smart enough for such attacks, but I already got on of these files on my computer, and when I knew it was that kind of files, I of course wanted to delete it. So to delete it, I single click on it and press delete, but once by accident I doubled click. If I has WinXP I would have to get my WinXP and perform a re-installation (I mean it would take for me the same time to remove it than re-installing Windows). So UAC actually saved me, and I am really happy.

    Granted that UAC needs some code optimization, but it’s worth having it turn on normally.
    Moreover, if you have the latest drivers from the chipset manufacture of the video card, Vista should not cause such problem in drawing the screen. If Vista interface runs fine on my test computer (PIII 800Mhz 512MB of RAM, with an Nvidia TNT2, (of course I disabled about everything in Vista to a point to drop it back down to XP… it’s just a test computer, I never actually use it.) I don’t see the problem.

  2. The Geek


    I think you are referring to #3 instead? I should probably put a bigger disclaimer on this article. (doing so now)

  3. ScopeCreep

    I use method #2, which is what I need to get MS Live Mesh to run.

  4. Mark Schneider

    I had tried #2 a while ago. I ended up going back to the default settings because I felt naked to attacks. I’ve gotten used to UAC and find it a useful component of Vista. I operate most of the time as a limited user, and if I need administrative privileges I type in a password. I don’t find UAC much more of a burden than Unix style administrator or root access type features.

  5. beep54

    I completely turned off UAC which, for me, is completely secure seeing as how neither I nor techs from my ISP haven’t ever been able to get my d$%&* Vista machine online. I use an XP machine for the net. :)

  6. Derek C. F. Pegritz

    I flatout disable UAC entirely. It is FAR too annoying, and Vista is virtually unusable with it enabled. Anyone with a decent antivirus/firewall setup and an ounce of common sense doesn’t need a software nanny shaking a finger at you every damn time you try to install a font or copy a file.

  7. raphoenix

    Having been around since punch cards and Dos 1.0, I don’t use any of the above methods as I think Vista is a total disaster. Prefer Linux and XP-3. Not opposed to change however by the time one configures the Vista comic book interface and tweaks the annoying O/S to actually do some work, days can be wasted. And Yes, I run my machines as Administrator however machines which have sensitive data on them Do Not have network connections to the outside world at all. Admittedly, my solution would not be practical if I were in a business environment. Regards.

  8. ben

    I disabled it entirely. When I had it. I downgraded to XP.

  9. beep54

    Ben: I don’t think that moving from Vista to XP is considered a ‘downgrade’. ;-)

  10. Urichhai

    True unless you are a gamer XP3 isnt really a down grade but I am using Vista 64 and I totally disabled UAC but it does have its advantages in the buisness world I suppose. But the networks I work on I have disabled it because my users get crabby with it so I limit them thru the servers.

  11. ML2

    Vista’s UAC is the main reason why I switched to using Ubuntu only. However when I do support people using Vista, it will be nice to use these tricks.

    Thanks geek.

  12. lou

    You should attach a warning about the Service Pack 1 upgrade crash, letting folks know about the “prerequisite” upgrades that MUST be installed prior to Service Pack 1. For those who don’t know, the SP1 upgrade can crash your computer permanently if you fail to install the prereqs first.

  13. ShadowFlare

    There is a setting that is very useful but rarely ever mentioned by anyone. UAC by default has this “installer detection” enabled that attempts to make sure you always get the elevation prompt when you run an installer. However, there are often times it detects a program as an installer that has nothing to do with anything of the sort, or that you are installing a program that either specifically allows installing it for a non-admin, or the installer can by chance install as a non-admin even though they didn’t specifically design it to.

    There are some programs I like to install just for the current user and not system-wide, so I install them somewhere in my user folder instead of Program Files, and often the installer doesn’t need to be run as admin in such a case.

    The installer detection is one of the things that can make UAC annoying, especially because of falsely detecting programs as installers. I have it disabled on both my desktop and laptop (though you have to find out what to change in the registry if you don’t have Vista Business or higher). Disabling installer detection doesn’t make it any less secure. It does mean I have to specifically right click some installers and select run as administrator, but I consider that a good thing, because as stated above, sometimes that’s what I want to do.

    I remember reading somewhere that installer detection is only a temporary feature and will be removed in the future.

  14. fsr

    Actually what triggers UAC is:

    * Changes to system-wide settings or to files in %SystemRoot% or %ProgramFiles%
    * Installing and uninstalling applications
    * Installing device drivers
    * Installing ActiveX controls
    * Changing settings for Windows Firewall
    * Changing UAC settings
    * Configuring Windows Update
    * Adding or removing user accounts
    * Changing a users account type
    * Configuring Parental Controls
    * Running Task Scheduler
    * Restoring backed-up system files
    * Viewing or changing another users folders and files

    Good behaviour blockers – like Threatfire or Defense+ – are also triggered by this and a lot more. Regardless of what Vista you’re using, they also have proper – not to say decent – policy editors, so I would say that if you use a good HIPS, you don’t need UAC. Personally I turned UAC off because of it’s miserable – at best – application compatibility. Vista is ‘selling like hotcakes’, so MS doesn’t care on users.

    See here:

  15. Brian

    I have disabled UAC completely. However I’m still getting extremely annoying messages that UAC is disabled and I should turn it back on. Before I disabled UAC, the only time I got the extremely annoying messages is when I was working from the keyboard and had to confirm two or three times that I wanted to do something (delete a file, install a program). If UAC really wanted to be useful it would detect when a person was working from the keyboard and detect when a program from outside was trying to change something.

  16. Chris

    Yeah Step 2 is the way to go b/c its partially working but all the annoying stuff is gone. Also, doing step 2 also elimates step 3 (the desktop thing)

    so thanks alot Geek for the registry keys it really saves the time finding folders or w/e and not evaluating stuff.

  17. Craig Matthews

    Please note that option 1 (disable UAC completely) also turns off two other key security and compatibility features of Vista:

    1) Internet Explorer Protected Mode. With UAC enabled, IE runs in a low privilege user context (below even regular user), meaning that malicious web sites cannot interact with anything outside of Internet Explorer. If you disable UAC, IE runs with the permissions of the user running the application, meaning it is possible for malicious websites to access personal data. If your user account is an administrator, it can do even more (and you won’t even know about it since you have UAC off).

    2) File and Registry Virtualization. When UAC is enabled, attempts to overwrite secure locations in the registry or file system are redirected to protect the registry and file system. This acts both as a compatibility feature (allowing misbehaved older applications to “think” they’re overwriting system files, when they really aren’t, yet the application continues to work fine), and as a security feature (system files cannot be replaced by malicious applications). If UAC is disabled, and you install an application which requires the replacement of system files or the modification of system wide settings in the registry that it shouldn’t be touching, this leads to system instability.

    UAC directly addresses both compatibility with misbehaved applications that assume end-users have full administrator control over the system, and malicious software attempting to run from a web browser.

    UAC is not just an annoying box that comes up when you’re trying to change your firewall setting to ask you if you’re sure. It is comprised of many parts of Vista’s security architecture.

  18. DemoGeek

    I’d prefer the #2 way instead of all the others because I mostly tend to click on “Allow” or that “Continue” button anyway.

  19. John

    This is much better then Windows UAC


  20. beep54

    Thank you John. It is about time SOMEONE came up with some sort of usable replacement for Windows very poorly though out UAC.

  21. Mike

    The UAC “black screen” time lag was my biggest source of frustration; otherwise, the occasional pop-up wasn’t that annoying. I found some info on another forum that referred to my graphics card driver. I uninstalled the driver update, and the time lag isn’t there anymore. My graphics are still stable. Just a thought…

  22. James

    I used to have UAC disabled completely but, after reading about there are other security features disabled under UAC but, not if its switched off.
    For example under CMD type – net user [account name] *
    That will change that accounts password without requiring the current password if UAC disabled. As I believe this will work under another account on that computer or a script running before anyone logs in could change your password without you knowing allowing anyone access.
    I don’t know what other security features are disabled if UAC disabled but I wouldn’t risk it.

  23. John

    Hey James, seriously try the replacement Nortonlabs created….

    It allows you to have UAC, but gives you options like “remember this” and also explains exactly what program and what it would like to do instead of having you guess what you are “continuing” on with the MS UAC.

    The remember this is useful for things like changing screen resolution, etc.

  24. ShadowFlare

    Changing screen resolution? You must not be a Vista user if you don’t know that the prompt never comes up for changing the screen resolution (or you have some wierd program installed that is causing it). The screen resolution has always been a per-user setting since Windows 95.

    While a “remember this” option might be useful, it can still be a risk to use it, though still better than some options mentioned here, I suppose. On that note, I also consider it a risk using similar options in the prompts on GNU/Linux distributions that have them.

    In the case of either OS, automatically elevating to admin/root status for even the most innocent of programs just adds one more way that the system can be compromised. If you tell it to always become admin/root for a certain action through a certain program, it will likely always do it, regardless of whether it was the user or a malicious program that initiated the action through that program. It may not know the difference, so it will likely be allowed in both cases.

  25. Spacegold

    As a stand-alone computer user who has no desire to be an administrator, but being forced to so become by the Vista OS that came with my Walmart Special, I find UAC a good crutch whose frequent popups are small annoyance price to pay for the protection they offer. When I know what I am downloading and/or installing, I don’t mind a few extra clicks. And the day it catches some intruder trying to do something I don’t want done, it will be worth it. I am far more concerned that a hacker will find a way to masquarade as Microsoft or some other provider to whom I have granted automatic update prilileges.

  26. James

    @ John

    I gave your link a try and I have to admit, I’m liking it a lot! It gives you that bit more information and allows you to see which program has asked for admin privilages.

    Thanks for your comment that program has been very useful and I cam honestly say I using it for some time to come.

  27. dinesh

    Thanks Geek for the great idea. The 4th method is superb. I use it for apps like msconfig, regedit, services.msc, device mngr, etc..
    Great info. Thanks

  28. theLiterator

    I disabled UAC on my machine the moment I figured out how.

    Then, I installed Ubuntu on the same machine and figured a couple of things out: 1) UAC is less protective in that it doesn’t make me type in my password for every prompt. 2) It may be slightly less convenient in that I can’t disable it for whole sessions, but this is a proprietary OS, I expect a lot fewer of my actions to need administrative privileges, especially since unlike Ubuntu, I don’t see the prompt during Windows Update.

    I actaully blame the inconvenience of UAC on applications and third party software demanding access to parts of the system they shouldn’t need to access.

    That said, I installed the Norton UAC from the link above, and proceeded to install my Christmas loot. I have to say I like it a tad better for its flexibility, but am not sure I’ll keep it installed, because it doesn’t block out my desktop every time ( I have yet to discover a pattern). And not making a choice (ie. exiting the box) might default to “yes”, not “no”. Which, while it only happened once today during my install binge, still makes me a little wary.

  29. ShadowFlare

    If you want UAC to make you type your password for every prompt instead of just clicking a button, there are two different ways. One is to demote your user account to a standard user and make a separate passworded admin account just for the UAC prompts. Another way is to change a certain group policy that makes it so that even admins need to type in their password in the prompt.

    The former of those is something you can easily do on any version of Vista. For the latter, you either need to use the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc – Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise only) or change a certain setting with the registry editor. Refer to #2 above in the article, except selecting “Prompt for credentials” If you need to use the registry file, put in 1 for the value in the file, like this:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


  30. Mark

    I disabled as soon as I figured out how to. I run under an admin account all the time.

    I’ve had to rebuild once in the last year and a half, but I play around with a lot of crap off the net.
    I use Norton 360 already, so I’ll be interested in trying out their UAC…I might even turn it back on then.

  31. geek in training

    i think #1 is the best since it speeds the computer

  32. Graham641

    The best way is to switch to linux or back to xp, with Linux yiu can tell it to remember your admin password if you need to run things like antivirus or changing system settings, but i prefer XP so i can run my games and stuff. I also recomend against Norton 360 as if that goes wrong it breaks your pc and stops it from booting correctly.

  33. John

    First, I wasn’t referring to Norton 360 is a different product then what I suggested. Now that I got that out of the way.

    XP will not run all your games nor will Linux, please don’t make this a my OS is better then your OS thread thats not how it was designed. Linux, OSX and Windows all have different features and different reasons for existence. Halo 2, for example will not run properly on XP… You can use flyleaf to run it, but it runs like crap. Some games you simply need Vista, since it has support for Directx10. That said there is nothing wrong dual booting ubuntu etc. Since that is off topic, lets get back on topic.

    The only concern with the Norton tool is that its beta, I have been using it for awhile now, and it has done nothing but help me. In fact you could have MS UAC go awry as any other. Windows 7 will make the need for any additional tools for the UAC unnecessary, and the SP2 of Vista *might* implement the same in the coming months. There is a beta of SP2 out, and RC1 coming out in April so we will see if they do add it at the last minute.

  34. ELF

    I use an admin account and disabled UAC as fast as I knew how.
    Why UAC? It didn’t excist in XP and there where no problems for me. I use Comodo (Firewall+Defense+Antivirus). When UAC can remember what to allow as defence does in Comodo, then it’s a useful application for normal users. Else it’s just worth beeing disabled…
    Is there any difference in security between disabling UAC completely or enable it but dissable all the messages?

    By the way. Great guide…

  35. AeroSabre

    I personally just disabled UAC right away. The only insecure aspect of any computer system is the user his or her self. Sudo annoyed me in Linux just as much as UAC did, and I’m just glad it’s easily disabled. Since I am the only one with access to my computer and generally know what I am doing (plus I have multiple backups of important files and images of the Windows partition from a clean install), I usually just bypass security stuff. As long as I have a good firewall, and do routine scans with SBS&D and ClamWin, I’m good. I have yet to get a virus. And besides, a lot of my stuff causes false positives with virus scanners anyway…

  36. reckless rk

    thats very nice but user should be more alert since vista doesn’t confirms ur action after this…. but it makes system really faster and friendly

  37. cathos

    disabled uac. probably shouldn’t, but I am the only one using the computer, and it has everything password-protected otherwise for login and bios

  38. Major

    All sounds good – i would just like to be able to keep a list of ‘safe’ apps that UAC references and therefor knows it is safe and runs it without prompt.

    i am surprised there is not something for this?


  39. John

    See the Norton’s Lab link above, it kinda keeps a list by giving you a remember this option. It also lets you see the exact command that wants to run so you can have a better idea if you should run it or not.

  40. ShadowFlare

    As far as I know, there is only the workaround mentioned in #4.

  41. peter

    i completely agree with derek, and i completely turn it off. i have fine antivirus and a touch of common sense, so why should i need mommy vista saying uh uh uh! every time i download, rename, install, change settings, move…

  42. Sam

    Brian wrote a while back ….
    I have disabled UAC completely. However I’m still getting extremely annoying messages that UAC is disabled and I should turn it back on

    I find this extrememly annoying also since I am using option one. is there a way to turn off this re-occuring message?

  43. ShadowFlare

    You could try option two. UAC will still be enabled, but it will automatically accept/allow instead of showing prompts when they would normally be shown.

  44. AlanWade

    I turned it off completely. I cannot stand all them ‘Are You Sure’ warnings.

    @ Sam
    Turn off the warnings in the security center.

  45. Spencer

    Ya I completely disabled UAC from my Vista Home Premium laptop. I find it just a speed bump because I have some fair good nolage on what I’m doing with my computer. BTW Geek (your real name) do you think you can show how to get rid of the notification on boot up saying your computer is at risk because UAC if off? if would be nice.

  46. Craig Hedrick

    Isnt there any way to get this thing to stop giving me the secure HTTPS warning over and over for the same website? There are one or two that I use often that have some content delivered secure and some otherwise, apparently. For certian websites, cant I just tell it to automatically accept all the content?

  47. Nick

    #5 Don’t install Vista.

    No, but seriously, I run the barest minimum of system protect, including a hand-coded firewall.

    Why? Because I use common sense. If I want to *cough* purchase *cough* a program, I will not pick the first result, I will look for the result that is proven to work.

    I don’t mind spending an extra night or two downloading. The peace of mind from knowing it’s close to safe is much better.

  48. xInToxiic

    Disabled… Just Too Fustrating And Annoying and Ive Got:
    Avast! Pro Edition
    Windows Firewall (Behind Router So I Don’t Need A Powerful One)
    Kaspersky Anti Vir 2009 So Im AOK.. :)

  49. awgie

    Not that I am saying that Vista is the ideal OS for everything I do – in fact, there are times I would like to go all the way back to DOS – but there is the time honored axiom “you can’t please all the people all the time.” Back when XP came out, people hated it and called it ‘poorly thought out.’ Over time, a lot of those people switched over to it and discovered to their shock and shame that it was indeed superior to Windows 98. Then MS released Vista, and once again people hated it. While it does have its drawbacks and annoyances, to call it ‘poorly thought out’ or use some similar remark would be to assume that it should have been designed to make everyone happy all the time, and that’s just not feasible. If it were indeed poorly thought out, Windows would not still be one of the biggest selling items in the world, let alone in the IT realm alone.

    The last (and only) time I was ever victim to an attack, it was the day before I installed my anti-virus software. That was back on Win98, and was one of the previously mentioned sneaky little attachments that comes through with an image extension, but is really an executable. Since I installed my anti-virus, I have had no troubles, and yet I leave UAC on because of the added protection it provides.

  50. Tom Hall

    UAC used or not, Vista has proved itself to be one of the worst ‘serious’ operating systems from MS. It is claimed to be ‘stable’ yet it crashes/freezes/louses-up an order of magnitude more times than XP. Yes, it’s additional features seemed to make it an improvement over XP initially, but as time wears on and it gets more use,there are no end of ‘corruptions’ that occur – sound card disabled, mouse/usb ports disabled, IE failures, Win Explorer failures, to list just those that occur EVERy day and ignoring the occasional failures of Vista I have to contend with. MS should be forced to make sure their operating systems are FULLY tested and fit-for-purpose before inflicting them on a long-suffering public. No amount of UAC tweaking can compensate for the rubbish we have to contend weith under the guise of ‘Vista’

  51. John Doe

    You must be an Administrator to use Norton’s UAC control.

    You don’t have to disable UAC. Use TweakUAC en you won’t be bothered by it. Only for Administrators.

    I have a question. I am the only user on my computer. Should I log on as Administrator or Standard user?

  52. Phred

    Hell, John Doe – just think Security. The Russian Mafia now knows that easy OSs are a money source par excellence. There’s money, big money, in insecurity. Yep, there’s certain personality types that security measures can’t save but for the sake of your system, via accidental keypresses, malformed grpahics.. whatever, log in as a standard user. Only when you do administrative things do you need to be an admin. See, it’s in the name.. :)

  53. ed

    Oh, and also I was attempting to do #4, and when i start task sceduler i get this message; “An error has occurred for task Reminders – Laptop. Error message: The specified account name is not valid.” I realize that i brought this on myself by trying all sorts of options for getting around uac including running in that hidden administrator mode, (when i did i deleted the Laptop account, when i “undid” i made a new account called Lappie)… :( im still sorta “feeling” my way around vista and fear that a complete OS reinstall is in order anyhow as it may be the shortest answer to fixing all the issues i caused myself. Luckily, i pre-planned for this with back-ups etc, PHEW! OH, and I decided not to run in that administrator mode because of the security issues involved. UAC is a powerfull security idea, it just needs some revisions.

  54. Roger

    I have disabled UAC ,I’m still getting extremely annoying messages that UAC is disabled and I should turn it back on. Before I disabled UAC, the only time I got the extremely annoying messages is when I was working from the keyboard (delete a file, install a program).

  55. Hariharan

    I am using the Disable Blackout mode.

    It is the best in terms of security.

  56. Midnight

    A total nuisance, so…..Disabled!

  57. Uewd

    I like UAC if I opened a program accidentally. So I click no If I chose the wrong program :D
    I think it is designed to protect viruses from gaining access to the pc, is that right? If it’s right, how it protects us?

  58. This-is-not-my-name

    I couldn’t imagine NOT using UAC. It is not annoying for me and I actually enjoy Vista– some of it. Last time I didn’t use UAC, I got two viruses on my system somehow. It’s not a nuisance for me, even with Blackout Mode on.

  59. Need Norton UAC for Win7

    Norton UAC tool is fantastic on Vista because you can check the box to not remind you about particular alerts, and it tells you who created the program, etc. However, it will not install at all on 7. Norton: You MUST update it for 7, it’s an excellent program! Everyone should contact Symantec and request they update it.

  60. Hate the UAC

    I turned the annoying UAC off and have never had a problem.I download and tryout alot of software,never had a problem.Since i have everything stored on other drives, i’d rather do a factory reset of the main drive if it came to that,due to a virus.In my opinion,better that than putting up with that annoying UAC window popping up everytime you want to do something.

  61. Road Dog777

    Killed off my UAC alert slow-down alert, figure running only progs approved for use by Windows software checker URL , downloading to a single file (using DAP 9.7) where I can use my arsenal of mouse-click malware scans on it before I even think about installing it helps ID/shred an infected install file or clears it for install.
    Also turned off all auto-updates, which keep another SVCHOST port open every time I go online, and do manual u/d checks on a prog when I get around to using it.


  62. Samir

    As always, great articles! Thanks for sharing!

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