Changing How User Account Control Works

by Barry Dysert
(last updated January 18, 2016)


One of the settings you can adjust for User Account Control (UAC) is when an administrator is to be notified when system-level changes (e.g., program installations or system-wide changes that affect all users) occur. How you adjust this notification level depends on the version of Windows you are using:

  1. Display the Control Panel.
  2. Click on the User Accounts and Family Safety link (Windows 7 and Windows 8) or the User Accounts link (Windows 10). Windows displays the User Accounts page.
  3. Click the User Accounts link. (Same wording as step 2, but a different link entirely.)
  4. Click the Change User Account Control Settings link. Windows displays the User Account Control Settings dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The User Account Control Settings dialog box.

There are four levels of UAC notification. If the slider is all the way down then all notifications from UAC are turned off. The next notch up causes you to be notified only when programs try to make changes to the system, and you are not notified when you (as the user) make changes to Windows settings. The next notch up (second from the top) is the default setting. It provides the same notification level as the third notch from the top, plus your desktop is dimmed when you are notified. If you move the slider all the way to the top, you will always be notified when programs try to install software or make changes to the system as well as when you make changes to Windows settings.

If you're interested in making changes to UAC settings beyond the notification level, you can provide finer detail by setting local security policies on your system. If you are using Windows 7, you can get to the policy editor by choosing Start | Administrative Tools | Local Security Policy. If you are using a later version of Windows, use the Search box to find "Local Security Policy." (You will need to run the editor while logged in as Administrator on your system.)

When the editor is running, it looks similar to the Windows 7 editor shown here as the Local Security Policy dialog box. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The Local Security Policy dialog box.

In the left pane, click the Local Policies item, then in the right pane, double-click the Security Options item. The expanded screen includes settings that can control how UAC works. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Changing UAC settings in the Local Security Policy dialog box.

There are ten UAC-related policy settings that you can change. While the details of all these settings are too much for this tip, you can learn about each setting by right-clicking the policy, selecting Properties, and clicking the Explain tab. The two policies that are circled in the figure, for example, dictate the behavior of the elevation prompt for administrators and for standard users.

For administrators, having the Security Setting set to "Elevate without prompting" means that privileged accounts can perform operations that require elevation without requiring the user to enter credentials.

For standard users, having the Security Setting set to "Prompt for credentials" means that the non-privileged user is prompted to enter administrator credentials when an operation requires elevation of privilege.

Assuming you have administrator privileges, you can change any or all of the policy settings by right-clicking the policy, selecting Properties, and making the change. Click OK to have the change take effect.

 This tip (3602) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 35 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer. He is currently a software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. When not working with Windows or writing Tips, Barry is an amateur writer. His first non-fiction book is titled "A Chronological Commentary of Revelation." ...


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What is five more than 3?

2016-01-19 12:43:55

Dave H.

If you're like me, Barry's instructions: "...choosing Start | Administrative Tools | Local Security Policy." could not be followed. After spending some time googling I learned that the "Administrative Tools" menu is not displayed by default in Windows 7.

To enable it:
1. Right-click Start, and then click Properties. The Taskbar And Start Menu Properties dialog box is displayed with the Start Menu tab selected by default.
2. Click Customize.Scroll down the list until you can see the System Administrative Tools heading.
3. At this point, you have two options:
If you want to display the Administrative Tools menu as a submenu of the All Programs menu, select "Display On The All Programs Menu".
If you want to display the Administrative Tools menu directly on the Start menu and as a submenu of the All Programs menu, select "Display On The All Programs Menu And The Start Menu".

Okay, so I did that and got the Administrative Tools Menu item to appear after choosing "Start" but no "Local Security Policy" option was visible.

Back to more googling! I finally learned that the "Local Security Policy" option is only available in the Professional, Ultimate, and Enterpise editions. (I have home premium.)

I just thought I'd mention this to save others some time!

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