-- Note, initially posted on Stack Overflow, comments suggested I post here --

Just upgraded to a new computer and am trying to install things that need access to the system path (e.g., arcpy, msys, and other things). I am the administrator, but somehow I don't have access to anything System-related. I don't remember having this issue on my old computer.

Screenshots below show (1) grayed-out system variables edit option; and (2) check that I am administrator (it also says I am in user accounts).

What am I missing to get full admin permissions? Note, I want to be able to add/edit system paths through the Environment Variables window, not through command line.

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  • 1
    How are you launching the Environment Variables control panel? Aug 4, 2019 at 23:37
  • The edit button is grayed out of because you don’t have a variable selected
    – Ramhound
    Aug 5, 2019 at 9:57
  • Did it work by the way?
    – Smock
    Aug 5, 2019 at 16:42
  • @Smock, I did about half a dozen things at once, so I'm not quite sure what worked-- I also followed The_D0lph1n's answer [answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/…. Seems like these are all the different side of the same coin, but somehow it is now working. Thank you
    – a11
    Aug 5, 2019 at 23:19
  • It was also grayed out for me because I launched it using a shortcut that only opened "user variables"
    – JinSnow
    Nov 13, 2022 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


If accessing this through the System Page

Windows + Pause/Break will bring up the System Page

Then click Advanced system settings
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This might get you to auth at this point - but even if it doesn't, it should ensure you're continuing as administrator

Click the Environment Variables button at the bottom
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You should now be on the environment variables page as an Admin.

If accessing through start menu:

(Just noticed the other answer by Niall895 is pretty much the same as below)

When you type 'environment' into the start menu you will see two similar options:

Edit the system environment variables.

Edit environment variables for your account.

These may appear in a different order to the screenshots below, depending on which one you opened last. Make sure you select the shortcut with system in it:

Edit the system environment variables.

If you don't choose this option, the system variables buttons New..., Edit... and Delete will be greyed out as in your screenshot.

(It may or may not get you to re-type your credentials first)

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It's possible you have different UAC settings on this instance

(Type UAC into start menu on each and look at the settings)

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Although changing this just usually gets rid of the prompt pop-ups

  • 4
    I was indeed accessing the env vars via the Start menu 🤦‍♂️. The other option, "Edit the system environment variables" will open a different menu -- just click "Environment variables..." at the bottom. (Thank you for pointing this out ⭐)
    – Prid
    Aug 19, 2021 at 14:32

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