Dec 062011
 

XP users can log into the built-in Admin account in Safe Mode but in Vista and Windows 7 the built-in Admin account is disabled – so you can’t log into it. This is good for security but a royal pain if you do need it for full administrator access.

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

OR

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.

  11 Responses to “How To Enable The Hidden Admin Account In Windows 7”

  1. very useful if you have forgotten your Windows password and haven’t got another user account to reset it!

  2. my friend and I tried to create a hidden account and accidentally hid the administrator this made it possible to log on THANK YOU<333

  3. Thank god for your skills. I just booted and my Account was locked which is very strange. With your process I was able to unlock it. However the 2 digits in my registry were 15, not 11. I changed them to 10 and my account got unlocked. THANKS!

  4. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!
    This works for Windows 8 as well. I completely messed up my user account and this was the only way THAT REALLY WORKS to get back into my PC.
    I am forever in your debt 🙂

  5. THANKS A LOT..

  6. This site is fantastic. I am kicking myself for not knowing about it sooner.

    On this subject, I see that someone states it works on W8. Nevertheless I am a little confused over the statement that Admin accounts need to be released from Vista onwards.

    My home machine is an XP system. However I am currently helping a friend get her new laptop (W8) how she likes it.

    Naturally I followed the general ‘Welcome to your new computer’ setup. This involved creating a login account in her name. Your article implies this will be a Standard account. Yet I have had no trouble downloading and installing new software using her account, so I had presumed it to be an Admin account.

    Is it?

    • @TB – thanks for the feedback 🙂 When you create a new user account in Windows (XP to W8) it has admin rights by default. Therefore your friend’s new W8 account does have admin rights and can do anything.

      However, there is also a user account called ‘administrator’ in Vista to W8 which is hidden (not displayed on the login screen) and it also has admin rights. It should only ever be enabled and used in an emergency.

      Typical usage – your friend’s user account gets corrupted and she can’t login to Windows. If she could login as another user (with admin rights) she could fix her a/c or just create a new one and copy her docs to it, then delete her old one. Enabling the hidden administrator user a/c lets her login to do that (then disable it again once fixed).

  7. You beauty!!!
    You dont know how long I spent scouring the internet for solutions til I came upon this.
    You just saved me from wiping everything from the PC for a restore to factory settings.

    Thanks thanks thanks thanks!

  8. This site is fantastic.
    Thank you very much

  9. When my Windows 7 PC goes into the System Recovery Options, it requires a password to access the option to get to the command prompt.

    • @will – perhaps it is asking for the administrator password which is usually blank (i.e. just press Enter) unless you have set one up before