I recently obtained a used windows 7 computer. The only visible user had administrator privileges, and its name was that of the previous owner's. I changed the name via User Accounts ► Change your account name, but for some reason that revoked my admin privs. Now, whenever I try to do something that requires admin privs a box pops up that wants me to enter an administrator password, but doesn't have any place to type any password.

After a bit of googling, I found a few places that said the first step to fixing this was to boot into safe mode. I restarted the computer and pressed F8, but that didn't do anything. The only other way I saw to boot into safe mode uses msconfig, which needs admin privs. I tried changing the name back, in case that helped, but that, too, requires admin privs.

How can I get my Administrator privileges back?

  • 1
    F8 should work, try pressing it repeatedly in half second taps while the computer is restarting. There is only a small window when it will work. Unless it has been deliberately disabled. – rob Apr 10 '14 at 16:53
  • Do you have a windows 7 disc? – Raystafarian Apr 10 '14 at 16:54
  • Something like passwordresetkey.com/site would solve your problem – Ramhound Apr 10 '14 at 16:56
  • Okay, the problem appeared to be that I was holding down F8, not pressing it repeatedly. Thanks @rob! – The Guy with The Hat Apr 10 '14 at 16:58
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    Why would you not install Windows from scratch after getting a used laptop? – joeqwerty Apr 10 '14 at 21:42

I have two answers for you.

The first is not a solution to your immediate problem but still... Reinstall the system.

Sure, I might be a bit over obsessive about safety, but for me that's quite a risk to run a system somebody else configured. It just has security risk written all over it. :P

The second solution is actually an answer to the problem - how to get admin privileges on a Windows machine you have physical access to.

  • boot the machine into live linux distribution - Debian/Ubuntu/etc
  • mount the windows system partition
  • cd into mounted-partition/Windows/System32 and backup osk.exe, that's On Screen Keyboard executable. After doing that, replace it with cmd.exe - like cp -f ./cmd.exe ./osk.exe
  • reboot into Windows, on the login screen click on the Ease of Access icon on the left bottom, and choose the On Screen Keyboard. This will run cmd.exe
  • in the console window type: net user user_name new_password to reset admin account password. You can then log into that account and do whatever you please.
  • of course you need to undo the changes you've made. ;)

Use a password reset utility like this one: http://pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd/

Burn the utility to a disc (or flash drive - instructions are on the site), reboot (make sure bios is set to boot to disc or flash drive accordingly), and follow on-screen text to either reset or remove password for administrative account (you can also set a new administrator or enable the base administrator account if it's disabled). Don't mention that this exists to any other Windows users... hum de dum.


You're trying to get administrator access without having administrator access. This is basically called hacking into a system. A long story short, Windows is secured to prevent being able to make these changes if you do not have the right access.

There are ways to hack, such as the password resetkey usb dongle, but usually in this situation the only way you can do this is to reformat the pc and reinstall windows.

I know a few ways to get into the system, but they all need administrator access to begin with.

The only other thing I can think of that would not invoke reinstalling windows, is to make the pc join a domain where you have administrative privileges. You can then use this admin account to manage the local pc, including user management. The downside is that you actually need to have a 2nd pc where you can install windows server, then install a domain controller just so you can join the pc into the network.

EDIT: Disregard the joining a domain option. You need administrative privileges to access that section.


Another option I have seen used, is using a password reset, with a live CD. Such a partial magic or trinity. I won't put links for them, a quick google search will find them.

They generally have the option to enable administration account in the process of resetting the password.

This will avoid having to re-install a system.

protected by Community Oct 3 '15 at 2:19

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