June from Maryland asks:
I am so tired of having some of my programs open with no problem and some of them requiring Administrator rights. Is there any way to make it so that I can open any program with Administrator Rights? I have Vista.
June, do you remember the “good ole days” when you could just open a program and use it without having to click on a buh-zillion “yes, you can” or “no, you can’t” or “Hmm…I’ll decide after you click a few more times” buttons? I realize it’s a necessary evil because there are so many not-so-nice guys out there waiting to do things like snatch all of our credit card information away from us when we click on an icon blah, blah, blah, but it gets really old, at least to me. All of that aside, I can give you a “Run as Administrator” registry tweak for when you want to open a specific program, and requiring Administrator Rights for that program will be a thing of the past. If you have never been near the highly-feared registry before this, fear not! I am here to walk you through it. (Note: If you have no idea what tweak means in the computer world, don’t feel like you’re alone! What it means is to make an adjustment – usually minor – to a computer program to make it better.)
Since we are going to be editing the registry, let me begin by giving you a piece of advice that has been drilled into me since I was an infant:
Before making any changes in the registry, it’s a good idea to back it up. Instructions for that can be found here.
It is so important to do this! One wrong click in the registry can wreak havoc on your system, so make this the very first thing you do.
Let’s use WinRAR as the program that I need to run as an Administrator.
The first thing to do is point to the Start button and left-click, and then go to the bottom of the right panel and left-click on Run. If your menu doesn’t include the Run button as shown below, hold the Windows key and hit R (Win+R). This will also bring up the Run line.
Type regedit in the box next to Open and left-click on OK.
You are now looking at the Registry Editor.
To change the registry so that you are able to open any file as an Administrator, you have to navigate to the program’s extension first. For example, if you can’t open BitTorrent, then you would navigate to the .torrent extension. Since we want to edit WinRAR, we are going to navigate to the .zip extension.
I have no idea where .zip is (or even where to start looking for it), so I am going to use the Find feature that is built into the Registry Editor.
Go up to the top of the Registry Editor and left-click on Edit; this opens a drop-down menu. Almost to the bottom you will see Find. Left-click on it.
In the box that pops up, you’re going to type the extension of the program that you want to open as an Administrator. In this case, it’s WinRAR, so we type in .zip for the extension. After that, click on Find Next.
A box will pop up briefly, informing you that it is searching the registry for the extension.
Once it finds the extension (sometimes it may take a little bit, so be patient), it will take you to that part of the registry. When the search is done, look at the left panel, and you will see the .zip extension.
Now look at the right panel. The top line begins with (Default). We are going to look for what program that controls .zip files so that we can locate the program itself. If you look under Data, you will see the program you need. In this case, it’s WinRAR.ZIP.
Okay, so where’s WinRAR.zip? Use the method we used earlier in this article to find it: Go up to Edit, left-click on it, and use your Find feature (by typing WinRAR.ZIP in the box) to help the registry search for WinRAR.ZIP.
After the Searching the Registry box disappears, we see that we have arrived at this key:
(Are you still with me? When I first learned how to run programs as an administrator, it seemed like it took forever to achieve the final result, plus most of it made no sense. It’s worth it, though, to take control of your computer! So hang in there, we’re almost through.)
Okay. The next thing we want to do is change the shell\open\command section to be the shell\runas\command section. First, double-click on WinRAR.ZIP to show the sub-menu. In the sub-menu under open, go to command. Right-click on it, and in the drop-down menu, left-click on Export.
We have created the file that we need; now we have to save it. I saved mine to my desktop because it’s easy to find. Now this is important: make sure you save it with a .reg extension, and not as a .txt file. This is because we have created a file that we’re going to put back into the registry to edit it, and a text file won’t do it.
Now you need to open Notepad from within this file to change it. Go back to where you saved the file and right-click on it. In the drop-down menu, left-click on Edit (or Open With) and open Notepad.
Note: Do NOT double-click on the file on your desktop! You are not trying to put the file back into the registry yet, and Vista will try to merge it into the registry if you double-click it. Make sure you right-click on the exported file.
Take a look at Notepad and you can see the key we were just working with (HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\WinRAR.ZIP\shell\open\command) is there. Change open to runas. Now go up to File, click Save as and save it as a .txt file. Then close it out.
Now go back to wherever you saved your file one more time. This time it’s okay to double click on the file because you’re going to enter the information into the registry.
When you see your Registry Editor, you’ll see that open has been now been replaced with runas. Close your Registry Editor (very top right X).
And that’s it. (Finally!) Now when you go to WinRAR, you can right-click it and run it as the administrator that you are!
I hope this helped; thanks for writing, June!
~ Lori Cline