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My Windows 7 computer is connected to a Windows network at the workplace. There are two domains in use on this network, EMPLOYEES and TESTERS. I have logins on both domains, for example EMPLOYEES\Joe and TESTERS\TestJoe.

If I am logged into a computer as EMPLOYEES\Joe, how do I launch a Windows Explorer instance with the privileges of TESTERS\TestJoe? Note that I can switch user and login as TESTERS\TestJoe on this computer without any problem.

I have tried the suggestions given in this post, and they do not work.

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Some clarification on what you're trying to accomplish with this might help you get an answer faster. Are you trying to get access to network shares? – Pär Björklund May 31 '11 at 11:28
Par Bjorklund: Yes, network shares is my prime concern. – Ashwin Nanjappa May 31 '11 at 13:07
  • Go to the Start button;
  • Type in Explorer;
  • Shift Right-Click "Windows Explorer";
  • Run as different user.

That user will also need privileges to access the file system on the local machine, and perform any futher operations you'd like to execute.

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While @Matt has the process right, @Pär Björklund is correct when it comes to network shares. You can connect using someone else's credentials. If that is all you need, I would go with that answer. – Doltknuckle May 31 '11 at 18:52
This method has never worked for me. It certainly appears to work in that an Explorer window is launched, but the attentive user will quickly notice the new instance of Explorer most certainly does not have access to files to which only the Administrator account can access. – Twisty Jun 28 at 14:14

You don't need to run explorer.exe as a different user just to connect to a network share with different credentials.

In an explorer window you can click on "Map network drive", fill in the path and and make sure to check "Connect using different credentials". When you click the finish button you will get prompted for the credentials you want to use to connect the current share.

You can also accomplish this with the net command on the command line.

net use x: \\server\share / password
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It seems that windows actively resists the ability to launch Explorer as a different user. I resolved this issue on my Windows 7 system by doing the following:

  1. take ownership of reg key HK_CLASSES_ROOT\AppID\{CDCBCFCA-3CDC-436f-A4E2-0E02075250C2}, and grant yourself Full Control. This key controls how explorer is allowed to launch
  2. rename the subkey from runas to _runas. If you receive an error doing this, then you probably didn't complete step one correctly

Once this is changed you can you launch Explorer with a different set of credentials via the run as command or with the freeware tool CPAU from Joeware.

From command prompt you can then launch explorer:

  • with runas
    • runas /user:domain\username "c:\windows\explorer.exe /separate"
    • followed by completing the password prompt.
  • with cpau
    • cpau.exe /u domain\username /p password /ex "E:\Windows\explorer.exe /separate"


  • You have to use the explorer option /separate to force explorer to launch as separate process. see also
  • The advantage of using cpau over runas is that with cpau you can specify username and password in the command prompt.
  • Other then using cpau for my own use, I am not affiliated with Joeware.
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When you run as the other user, it will run as a separate program. You do not need Explorer’s /separate option because that will launch an isolated copy of Explorer that won’t share with others. If you want a second Explorer window you need to rerun the command line step as you did the first. – Rich Shealer Nov 19 '14 at 3:16
I encountered problems when not using the /separate option. Essentially when the option was omitted executable launched from the separate explorer window received credentials for the currently logged in user, not the credentials of the user who launched the explorer window. – Ro Yo Mi Nov 21 '14 at 0:03
Not sure why it doesn't work for you. When I do it in Win 7, it shows in task manager as a separate process and anything I launched shows the user as Admin. – Rich Shealer Nov 21 '14 at 16:23
Probably because there are heightened security restrictions on our domain. – Ro Yo Mi Nov 28 '14 at 23:07

This works for Windows 7, 8.0, 8.1 and 10

  1. Start the Registry Editor as an Administrative User.
  2. Navigate to, take ownership of, and grant yourself Full Control permission to the key HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AppID\{CDCBCFCA-3CDC-436f-A4E2-0E02075250C2}
  3. Rename the value RunAs to _RunAs.
  4. Close Regedit.
  5. Create a shortcut on the Desktop to C:\Windows\Explorer.exe
  6. Right-click the shortcut and choose Run as administrator. This will open Explorer in the security context of the Administrator.
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Works on Windows 10 too ;-) – NetVicious Nov 26 '15 at 12:32
Thanks. Nice to hear it worked on 10 also! :) – digitally_inspired Nov 30 '15 at 21:17

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