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How to Manage User Account Control in Windows 10

by Lisa Hayden
How to Manage User Account Control in Windows 10

The User Control Access (UAC) is part of Windows 10 security services that prevents programs from running with elevated privileges unless with the knowledge and consent of the Admin.

It notifies you when a program makes changes to the systems prompting you to allow or deny the changes. This is an important component as it prevents users from accidentally changing the system change as well as malware from gaining system access.

This guide explores how you can manage UAC in Windows 10 including turning on or off and changing UAC settings. 

The Work and Benefits of User Account Control

Whenever an application or process tries to make changes to the Windows OS, User Account Control freezes all active programs and desktop and then displays a pop-up window that requests the user's approval. 

Depending on your computer UAC settings, the service may display a credential prompt that requires Admin password to allow approval of the request. The two benefits of this feature is to protect the PC from malware and viruses making background activities as well as unauthorised  user processes thus ensuring high level security and Admin compliance 

Related: How to Remove Write Protection From USB Drive in Windows 10

UAC

How to Turn On/Off User Account Access in Windows 10

The UAC feature is enabled by default during Windows 10 installation but users can enable or disable the tool if they are logged in as Admin or have the Admin credentials. To enable or disable the feature:

To access the Administrator elevation token, you should sign into an account that has Administrator’s rights or acquire the Administrator password or PIN.

Open the Control Panel and navigate to “System and Security > Security and Maintenance” and then click the “Change User Account Control settings” 
OpenUACSettings

You can also type ‘User Control’ in the Windows search box and select “Change User Account Control settings”, the option with a blue flag icon from the search results.

On the resulting window slide the bar on the left side to the lowest level, “Never notify me when:” option.

Click the “Ok” button to save the changes 
DisableUAC

If disabled, you can turn on the feature by sliding the bar to the upper levels on the slider.

Then click “Ok” to save your changes. You will get the UAC prompt to approve the changes. Click “Yes” to continue
ConfirmChanges

The Various User Account Control Settings

Disabled (Never notify) - no notifications when programs attempts to make changes to the computer. If you are signed into the Admin account, changes will not require your approval while changes that require consent will be automatically denied if you are logged into a standard account. This implies that the running apps have rights to read and modify system files as well as communicate over internet connection.

Low Level (Don’t dim my desktop) - notifies you when apps try to make changes to the computer but not for user but no notification when you make changes to the system settings and the prompt does not freeze the desktop 
LowLevel

Default Level (Notify me only when apps try to make changes) - this the default setting and is recommended only if you trust the apps you run as well as the sites you visit.

High Level (Always notify) - notifies you when you or apps try to make changes to the PC. The level requires standard users to enter the Admin password before making changes. This is the most secure level and is recommended if you visit unfamiliar sites or install apps from unknown sources 
AlwaysNotify

Caution: Disabling User Account Control is risky as it exposes your PC to potential security threats. It is therefore a good practice to set the UAC notification to the recommended level

Modifying UAC Settings in Local Security Policy

The local security policy specifies security settings like user privileges, password and system audit. To modify UAC settings in Local Security Policy:

Press the ‘Win + R’ keys on the keyboard to open the Windows run utility. Type ‘secpol.msc’ and click the “Ok” button to open the security policy window 
OpenSecurityPolicy

Alternatively, type ‘Local Security’ in the search box and choose the “Local Security Policy” from the result.

Expand the “Local Policies” folder on the left pane and select “Security Options”. This will display the policies in the right pane.

Scroll down the list to locate the “User Account Control” policies
UACPolicies

You will find various UAC policies at the bottom of the list. Double click the policy and under the setting tab in the resulting popup, select the “Enable” or “Disable” option 

PolicySettings

Click the “Ok” button and close the security policy window.

To find out more details about the policy, double click the policy and then go to the “Explain” tab 
PolicyDescription

Modifying the UAC Settings in System Registry

Press the ‘Win + R’ keys on your keyboard and type ‘regedit’ in the Run dialog and click “Ok” to open the Registry editor. Expand the folders on the left pane to navigate to “Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System'' to access the system keys 
SysKey

From the keys listed on the right pane, find the UAC settings you want to modify. Double click the key to edit the data value.

Modify the data value appropriately and click “Ok”. For instance, to turn off the UAC feature, double click “EnableUA” and edit the value data to zero 
DisableUA

Conclusion

The Windows 10 User Account Control (UAC) is a very critical security feature that helps users mitigate the risk of malware and viruses. Moreover, the feature prevents users from making changes to the Windows settings without the Admin knowledge and consent.

The default UAC settings notifies you when apps want to make changes to the PC but you can modify the UAC levels to your preference.

The above article shows you how to manage UAC settings in Windows 10 from the Control Panel, using the Local Security Policy or System Registry Editor. However, disabling the UAC is not advisable since it exposes your PC to security threats. 

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