Disable Vista UAC

Category: Vista

I'm getting popups on Vista saying Windows needs your permission to continue. Is this spyware or something I need to deal with? If it's part of Vista, can I turn this annoying 'feature' off?

Disable Vista UAC

Vista UAC - Annoying on Purpose

There is a fine line between feeling secure and feeling imprisoned. Some Microsoft Vista users are beginning to discover this. Vista comes with enhanced security features, but one feature in particular has been trying the patience of many.

The feature is called User Account Control or UAC for short. UAC is a feature that is enabled by default in Vista. It is a feature designed with good-intentions; it was implemented as a way to control what users can and can't do in Vista, especially changes to system settings. Vista users have noticed however, that UAC seems to pop up---well, everywhere. And many find it annoying.

Ironically, Microsoft planned it that way. Microsoft product manager David Cross recently revealed at a security conference that "The reason we put UAC into Vista was to annoy users." And this was done in the hopes that it would spur those angry users into lashing out against the third-party software vendors whose software generated the prompts. So much for good intentions - the fact remains that many of these prompts come from Vista itself, and not the third-party applications. And the constant barrage of popups leaves inexperienced users wondering which are real and which might be generated by malware. Or even worse, they might be conditioned to ALWAYS click OK to continue, without even reading the prompts.

Executing a variety of commands in Vista will prompt a user to enter in an administrator account and password. Example: trying to run a command from the command prompt, Vista gives the message, "The requested operation requires elevation." And no, seeking higher ground will not help. This is UAC in action, asking for elevated administrator rights to run the command line. (Right-clicking on the program's icon and selecting "Run As Administrator" is the way to elevate the operation, by the way.)

But more mundane tasks are also locked down. Viewing properties of a network connection, opening Device Manager, backing up and restoring files are some of the tasks which are by default, UAC protected. Even installing and uninstalling programs will produce the "Windows needs your permission to continue" popup. Invariably, UAC popups all over the place asking for administrator credentials to do the most routine tasks, would leave lots of folks wanting to turn it off all together.

How To Disable UAC in Vista

UAC can be disabled. From the Control Panel, you can click "User Accounts". There is a link there to "Turn User Account Control on or off." Following this link, allows you to uncheck the option to use UAC to help protect your computer.

Disable Vista UAC

So, is turning off UAC the best option? Well it depends. For a moderately savvy home user with a PC that is not shared with anyone else, has proper anti-malware software and a firewall enabled, turning off UAC should not be a problem.

But shutting off UAC will cause Windows to occasionally produce popups warning you that UAC is not enabled, and will prompt you to go to the Security Center to turn it back on. You can disable this secondary warning in the Security Center.

Here's another option that allows users to keep UAC turned on, and avoid all the annoying popups. TweakUAC is a free utility that lets you suppress the elevation prompts of UAC without turning the UAC off completely. So you can keep all the positive effects of UAC (namely running Internet Explorer in protected mode, and running programs without administrative privileges) without ever seeing those "Windows needs your permission to continue" messages.

Are you annoyed by the Vista UAC popups? Have you turned them off? Post a comment below and tell us your experience with Vista UAC...

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Most recent comments on "Disable Vista UAC"

Posted by:

John Lenihan
29 Apr 2008

UAC is a total joke. What bothers me is the text & fonts are

so small that you need a magnifying glass to read it. Display settings don't do anything.

Posted by:

Gary Wigle
29 Apr 2008

I like UAC. Yes it may slow down my using of some programs but the trade off is well worth it. Keep UAC...it may save your bacon.

Posted by:

Smoky Lowe
30 Apr 2008

Vista it the most worthless Operating system I have have been dumb enough to try,I would rather us ME,sorry I ever wasted the money for junk software like Vista. Thank you. will keep XP and then sell out all the computers I own when it ends.

Posted by:

13 May 2008

I am new to Vista. I've had my new computer for only 3 days and I find that it pops up so often that I have become one of those who click UAC before I even read it.

Posted by:

Rick Ricciardi
13 May 2008

I downloaded TweakUAC and set it to the Quiet Mode. I no longer get the pop ups but I have a constant message from Vista saying my system is not secure. Any way to turn that off?

EDITOR'S NOTE: From the TweakUAC site: 'double-click on the shield icon in the taskbar to open Windows Security Center. Then click on the “Change the way Security Center alerts me” link, in the left panel. Finally, choose one of the "Don’t notify me” options.'

Posted by:

16 May 2008

I have found that some software will not function with UAC turned off. This includes some software provided by vendors which are sort of like a plug-in for CRM software, to get part numbers, prices, and availability in real time right from the CRM screen. Some software (such as Peachtree 2007) will work, but cannot access the database over a network without UAC disabled.

Posted by:

Jeff Eye
30 May 2008

Thanks for your "real world" explanations. MSFT should hire you to write their Help, since it is about useless most of the time. I like Vista (mostly), but like most MSFT OSs it WILL be SP2 before it is stable. I just don't like the way they change where things are located from one OS to another.

Posted by:

28 Jun 2008

I am the only user and administrator on my Acer laptop with Vista Home Basic. When trying to download and save to Program Files, it tells me lately that I do not have the necessary permissions to save to this folder and offers to save it to a folder with my own name.This is really frustrating. I have just followed your instructions to turn off UAC, but I do not think this is what it is referring to in the above problem?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Generally you don't download directly to the Program Files folder. It's typical to download to a temp folder, then use an installer to copy the files to a Program Files subfolder.

Posted by:

11 Aug 2008

I think I understand where it's all heading. Pretty soon you'll turn on your computer, it will say "to prevent any potentially threatening activity, you're computer will now shut down" and then I'll go and do something more productive. Brilliant strategy!!

Actually, I've gone one further and also disabled the System Service for Vista. I do like to live on the edge.

Posted by:

12 Aug 2008

I've been using Vista Ultimate four months now. I find the UAC acceptable. I found out the dark background used when the UAC prompt appears is actually a process which does not allow any code to execute, except to answer the prompt. This means that while the prompt is active nothing is going to adversely affect my system. I tend to enjoy the feeling of security, and I am a Power User.

I think Mr. Cross's explanation is lame and I don't believe him. I have never had any prompt stemming from my Panda Internet Security Suite. All of my prompts are from Vista events. I am the only user on my system, but, if a hacker were to get in I feel rather secure s/he would not get far with UAC enabled. Additionally, were any of my children to access my system without permission, they would not be able to do any damage.

The bottom line is I believe this is a great addition to a Windows OS. I heard people screaming about Windows lack of security, and now it is there they scream about that too. Microsoft just can't win for losing! lol

Posted by:

20 Nov 2008

I disabled UAC for a new computer user who was getting flustered and confused by the constant pop-ups. Now she is able to be flustered and confused by the popups warning you that UAC is not enabled instead. I wasn't aware of TweakUAC, but will certainly look into setting that up for her, thanks for the alternative option!

Posted by:

05 Apr 2009

I finally turned off UAC when I had trouble starting my media program. It starts with a shell that loads secondary programs -- all that require Admin level access... and UAC wouldn't even ask. It just killed the secondary programs during startup.

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