This article applies equally to Windows Vista and Windows 7. Logging in as the hidden Admin account lets you troubleshoot problems that require full administrator access e.g. if you have just one user account and its user profile becomes corrupt, you can’t log into Windows. But enabling the Admin account would let you log in as Admin in order to diagnose and fix the issue.
Warning: for security reasons it is a very bad idea to use the Admin account in Windows 7 permanently – enable it only if you need it and then disable it again afterwards. The bottom section of this article explains how to disable it.
How To Enable The Admin Account In Windows 7 – The actual user name of the hidden Admin account is Administrator. There are 2 common methods of enabling the Admin account – depending on whether you can still log into Windows or not…
Method 1 – can log into Windows (Easy)
- Click the ‘Start’ button then type CMD in the search box – the icon for ‘Command Prompt’ appears in the search results above.
- Right click on the ‘Command Prompt’ icon and choose ‘Run as administrator’ to open a Command Prompt window.
- In the Command Prompt window type the following command: net user administrator /active:yes
- Now press the Return/ENTER key – you should see a message saying ‘the command completed successfully’. Close the Command Prompt window and log out of Windows.
At the login screen you should now see the Administrator account icon in the choice of users. Click the Administrator account to log into it. It has no password so (for security) you should create a password for it but do not forget this password!
Method 2 – can’t log into Windows (Advanced, requires editing the registry)
You first need to boot to a command prompt using one of the following methods:
1. Windows 7 – as your computer starts up, keep pressing the F8 key until you see the Advanced Boot Options screen (includes Safe Mode options)
Select ‘Repair Your Computer’ at the top of options and press the Enter key then follow the prompts through to the System Recovery Options menu
On this menu, select ‘Command Prompt’ to open a Command Prompt window
Skip to the ‘Enable In Registry’ section below
2. Vista and Windows 7 – boot from a Windows Recovery CD or installation DVD.
When prompted, press any key to boot from the DVD
Select your language options and click Next
Click on ‘Repair Your Computer’ then choose your operating system (Windows) to repair
Click ‘Next’ to display the Recovery Options menu – on this menu, select ‘Command Prompt’ to open a Command Prompt window
Enable in Registry
1. Now you are in the Command Prompt window type the command regedit then press Enter.
2. Click on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
3. Click the File menu and select ‘Load hive’
4. In the Load Hive window, browse to the C:\Windows\System32\Config folder
5. In this Config folder, double click on the SAM file to open it – a ‘Load Hive’ window appears
6. In the Load Hive window, type the Key Name NEW_SAM then press OK
7. Browse to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ NEW_SAM \ SAM \ Domains \ Account \ Users \ 000001F4 key then double click on the string called ‘F’ in the right hand panel. This opens a table with lots of binary values in it
8. In the 8th row (starting 0038) of the table, locate the number 11 (in the first of the 2 digit columns)
9. Click to the right of the 11 so the cursor appears between 11 and the next 2 digit number and then press Backspace once to delete the 11
10. Now type the number 10 in place of where the 11 was and press OK (i.e. the number 10 is now in the place that the 11 was before)
11. Close the Regedit window, close Command Prompt, remove the CD/DVD and click on Restart
When the computer restarts, at the login screen you will now see the Administrator account icon in the choice of users.
Click the Administrator account to log into it – it has no password so (for security) you should create a password for it but do not forget this password!
How To Disable The Admin Account In Windows 7
Log into Windows as your usual account (i.e. NOT as Administrator)
Follow the first 3 steps in the ‘Method 1 – Can log into Windows’ section above to open an elevated (with admin rights) Command Prompt but this time, in step 3, type in the following command instead:
net user administrator /active:no
Now press the Return/ENTER key – you should see a message saying ‘the command completed successfully’.
This disables the admin account again – restart the computer and it should no longer appear in the login screen.