I accidentally disabled my admin account.

After I login to another account I found I can not get admin rights, because all admin accounts on my computer are disabled.

I clicked on 'run as administrator' but only see a smart card choice (all the admin accounts are disabled so no choice provided)

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I don't want to re-install my OS, help!


I have account A on my computer.

I got a new computer so I want to give the old one to my mother.

Creating a new user account B for her and disable account A.

Logout and restart.

Successfully login B, now I found I could not get admin rights because no account choice is provided.

More informations about my machine:

OS is Windows 10 and my admin account is a Microsoft Account.

I have an arch-linux installed on my computer and dual-boot it using GRUB, so maybe I can not use safe mode.

  • 2
    This is the reason I have more than one admin account on my computer. – BillDOe Jan 10 '16 at 6:56
  • Your question isn't really clear... Please give us more details... – undo Jan 10 '16 at 6:58
  • Which version of Windows are you asking about? It's a little different in windows 10 and 7. You can use windows-10 or windows-7 tags. – Sebi Jan 10 '16 at 7:13
  • @Sebi, updated info in my question – PaleNeutron Jan 10 '16 at 7:14
  • 2
    makes you wonder why WIndows doesn't warn the user before disabling all admin accounts... – jiggunjer Jan 26 '16 at 3:49

The following tutorial will allow you to enable the default Administrator. There are other ways to change the permission of an existing user and/or change the password of an existing Administrator. Those methods are not covered by this tutorial and are considered out of scope for the purpose of this question.

This tutorial assumes you know how to create an installation disk, boot to that disk, and enter WinRE which is contained on that disk. This tutorial won't cover how to do that. This tutorial does not require access to an Administrator account, the entire purpose of this tutorial is to enable the built-in Administrator account which by default is disabled.

Enable or Disable Built-in Administrator in Command Prompt at Boot

  1. Download the Windows 10 .ISO

  2. Within WinRE at a command prompt, type regedit, and press Enter.

  3. In the left pane of Registry Editor, click/tap on the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key.

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  1. Click/tap on File (menu bar), and on Load Hive.

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  1. Open the drive that you have Windows 10 installed on, and browse to the location below.


  1. Select the SAM file, and click/tap on Open.

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  1. In the Load Hive dialog, type REM_SAM, and click/tap on OK.below)

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  1. In the left pane of Registry Editor, navigate to and open the key below.


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  1. In the right pane of the 000001F4 key, double click/tap on the F binary value to modify it.

  2. In line 0038, change 11 to 10, click/tap on OK

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  1. Close Registry Editor and the command prompt.

  2. Click/tap on Continue to startup back in Windows 10.


Related Question: Where can I get a clean ISO of the Windows 10 Anniversary update?

  • 5
    I encourage people to tell me how I can improve this answer before they issue the downvote. Unless of course you are doing it out of spite, in which case, I encourage you to do it so I can report the behavior to a community moderator. – Ramhound Apr 3 '17 at 13:11
  • Your solution did not work, as pressing OK to step 7 resulted in "permission denied, as the file is being used". Also, a step between 2 and 3 would be nice showing the existing tree with the HKLM open showing the CD booted SAM would be nice. In any event, the answer did not work. – Sarah Weinberger Mar 28 '20 at 19:49
  • @SarahWeinberger - What is required between step 2 and step 3 seems clear to me. The only reason a hive file would be in use is if you attempted to do this from within Windows instead of WinRE – Ramhound Mar 29 '20 at 1:33

I would use another method in order to reenable a user account of a member of the Administrator group:

  1. Download an .iso file of Ubuntu and burn it to a disc.

  2. Boot from the burned disc.

  3. Click on "Try Ubuntu".

  4. Open the file manager of Ubuntu and navigate to the hard disk your Windows is installed on. Open the folder X:\Windows\System32.

  5. Copy the file utilman.exe and rename the copy to utilman.exe.bak. Copy the file cmd.exe and rename the copy to utilman.exe.

  6. Shut down Ubuntu and remove the disc of Ubuntu afterwards.

  7. Start your computer in order to boot into Windows. On the logon screen press Windows-Key and U. A command prompt running with system rights will appear. Type into the command net user name /ACTIVE:YES while replacing name with the name of an account in the Administrator group.

  8. After that reboot from the burned disc and undo your previous changes by deleting utilman.exe and renaming utilman.exe.bak to utilman.exe

  • 1
    This method does not work if Win10 has S-mode enabled. cmd.exe cannot run while S-mode is active. To disable S-mode you need elevated admin privileges... – greatwolf Feb 24 '20 at 2:29
  • The asker doesn't write anything about S-mode being enabled. – Norbert Willhelm Mar 10 '20 at 19:44
  • 3
    He probably wasn't aware of it so he wouldn't have asked it. This is something to take note of for future visitors in case they can't get this to work. – greatwolf Mar 11 '20 at 7:47
  • @greatwolf Understood. – Norbert Willhelm Mar 11 '20 at 12:29
  • Future reader here: What should I do if S-mode does happen to be enabled? – Chipster Jun 24 '20 at 22:34

In short, the access to hidden admin account is possible in safe mode (I can not see this in the usual login page but I can see it in safe mode login page). In this account, you can change the type of other accounts. If you are wondering about the detail, here it is:

1) Click on the Start button, click on Power button, and click on restart while pressing shift;

2) In the new page, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart; After this, the computer will restart and you can choose different Safe Mode Options;

3) Choose either option, 4) Enable Safe Mode, 5) Enable Safe Mode with Networking, or 6) Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt;

4) In the Login Page, move the mouse or touchpad to the left bottom corner. The Hidden Administrator Account must be visible. Login into this account by clicking on it (if it does not have a password), or by entering its password;

5) Press Windows Key+R and type Control Panel;

6) In Control Panel, go to User Accounts;

7) Under Make changes to your user account, click on Manage another account;

8) In the page, click on the account that you want to change its type to Administrator;

9) Then click on Change the account type;

9) Finally, in the page that opens you can choose between Standard and Administrator types;

10) Restart your computer by right clicking on Windows Button > Shut down or sign out > restart;

This can be used to promote a user from Standard type to Administrator type!

  • 1
    Your stop 4 assumes the "Hidden Administrator Account" is not locked out. What if it is ? – joedotnot Apr 17 '19 at 9:50

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