Configure or Disable UAC in Windows Vista Home

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Editing The Registry

UAC (User Account Control) has been much maligned over the past year. The community clamored for tighter security to prevent exploitation and compromise of the Windows operating system, but Microsoft has been buried by criticism of UAC since the release of Windows Vista. UAC has also been the target of humorous ads for the Apple Mac computer and operating system.

In defense of UAC, Dr. Jesper Johansson, co-author of ​Windows Vista Security (Securing Vista Against Malicious Attacks), has written an excellent article. If you want to gain a better understanding of UAC, its intended purpose, and how to use it, read The Long-Term Impact of User Account Control.

It is possible to edit the configuration or disable UAC using Group Policy for systems in a network domain, or by using the Local Security Policy settings for standalone systems. However, Microsoft does not include the ability to access these settings from Windows Vista Home or Windows Vista Home Premium. Users of the Windows Vista Home operating systems have to manually edit the Registry to change the UAC settings.

Let me preface by stating that I do not recommend disabling UAC. Johansson's article clearly explains the benefits of UAC, and for the vast majority of home users, leaving the default UAC configuration is advised. If you are a more advanced user, or you just really feel a need to change the UAC configuration though, just follow these steps:

Click Start, then click Run

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Start RegEdit

In the Open field of the Run box, type "RegEdit" to open the Registry editing utility. Assuming that you have not already disabled UAC, you will receive a UAC prompt for consent to open the utility.
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Find The UAC Registry Keys

Using the menu in the left pane, you must navigate to the section of the Registry holding the Registry Keys that configure UAC.
  1. Select HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
  2. Select SOFTWARE
  3. Select Microsoft
  4. Select Windows
  5. Select CurrentVersion
  6. Select Policies
  7. Select System
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Edit ConsentPromptBehaviorAdmin

There are a variety of Registry Keys related to various UAC functions. The one that has the most direct and significant impact for a home user running as an Administrator on Windows Vista Home though is ConsentPromptBehaviorAdmin.

If you double-click this key, you will be able to change the value of the DWord associated with it. There are three possible values you can use:

  • 0 = Do not prompt. Setting this value to zero effectively disables UAC and allows programs and tasks to execute without first requiring consent to elevate privileges
  • 1 = Prompt for credentials. When this key is set to '1', UAC will prompt for user credentials- a username and password- rather than simply asking for consent. This is a higher level of security than the standard UAC consent because it requires entering a password for a valid, authorized account each time.
  • 2 = Prompt for consent. This is the default setting. When UAC is set to prompt for consent, any action or execution that requires elevated administrative privileges will result in the darkened screen and UAC pop-up to verify consent before proceeding.

For further explanation about the other UAC Registry keys, you can refer to the MSDN UAC blog, or Disable UAC on Windows Vista Home and Windows Vista Home Premium at TweakVista.

Editor's Note: This article is legacy content. For more current information on the latest version of Microsoft Windows, visit About.com's Windows-related site: windows.about.com and check out this article.