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Is it possible to run a program as "elevated" standard user in Windows 7? So if the user runs a program as if they were an “admin” their actions would be saved under their username—siuch as “Username”—instead of the general “admin” account.

Here are the details of what I am trying to do:

I’m guessing most who read the title would think “do you mean you want to run a program as (an) 'administrator' (account, or the built-in admin acc)?.”

Just want to point out that that’s not what I want to do. Yes, I’ve already checked most of the posts here. they all involve the usual “standard user MyAccount” and “admin user AdminAcc” for UAC prompts setup (only few enable the built-in admin).

I’ve noticed that running a program as administrator USER (not the built-in one, which I left disabled) not only runs the program as that user, it also saves the changes in THAT user’s account folder instead of the account folder of where it was ran.

So anyway, I'm in a single user environment which gets occasionally used by other people in the house who are prone to clicking those “you have won $9,999,999!” SPAM ads and obviously it resulted to malware galore so I reinstalled Windows 7.

On this previous setup running a program as administrator runs it under my user account and saves settings on my account folder. In this new setup, I have two accounts, one new created admin account “admin” and the default/primary created account “Username”, built-in admin disabled.

So when running programs that require run as admin, they prompt for admin password and are run as “admin” instead of “Username”, and the program saves its settings within “admin” instead of “Username.” I know this is how it works normally.

However, what I want is something like this: Run a program as administrator using the standard account “Username” so the program saves its settings on “Username.”

Is this possible or not? My current workaround is to simply change “Username” into “admin” then bulk install programs and change it again into standard user. This obviously means I can’t just leave the computer without changing it back to Standard User.

EDIT: I take it what I want to do is simply impossible? if so, what would have been a good setup? where there is one limited account for daily usage and one accound for installing stuff?

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    Cleaned up the question and removed the block quotes that were placed for emphasis since that was actually quite confusing: You shouldn’t quote yourself for emphasis. Nov 24, 2014 at 5:14
  • If I've understood your question correctly you'd like to be able to run a program with the privilages of a user in the Administrators group (not the Administrator account) but have any changes made by the running program be reflected in the unprivilaged (non-admin) user's account rather than the admin account used to run the program. Is this correct? Nov 24, 2014 at 6:53
  • JakeGould -- OK. thanks. @Crippledsmurf -- Exactly that. most of the results I've found did not mention anything about doing something like it.
    – Drew
    Nov 24, 2014 at 8:19
  • This is a feature I've wished Windows had for a long time. I asked a similar question a while back and was basically told it's not possible. superuser.com/questions/1083600/… Apr 26, 2018 at 16:47

3 Answers 3

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What you seem to be asking for is exactly what User Account Control does: a user who is a member of the admin group normally has only limited user privileges, but can, after giving explicit consent, perform administrative actions. Since there is only the one user account involved, all per-user data written by programs, whether run "as administrator" or not, goes into the same user profile.

As far a limiting damage by other users, you should consider creating one or more Guest accounts for them to use. In any case, there is no good reason for other users to be running programs in any account but their own, let alone in an administrator's account.

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  • are you sure that's what happens? for example. I run a program, say Xnview for the first time, it pops up a config window and i configure it a bit. next, i close it and run it again and it no longer pops a config window. run the same prog as a diff admin user and the same config window pops again, in addition to it being run under the different user in task manager. you can see where I got my conclusion from. though I'd like to confirm if it really DOES do it that way you said, how do I go about doing that? as for guest accounts, i turned on the win7 guest account but i found it cumbersome.
    – Drew
    Nov 24, 2014 at 8:35
  • UPDATE >> OK, i just checked the "admin" user folder and it DID have settings for xnview there(it didn't have any settings for other progs since it's the only prog i ran under it so far), so running a prog "as admin(diff user)" does make it run as the diff user's prog under the current. ... rereading your initial i guess you focused on on my interpretation of how UAC works. well it got updated by Jake and should be clearer now. to expound on guest accs, I find it pointless to make an account for someone who only uses the browser and nothing else.
    – Drew
    Nov 24, 2014 at 8:48
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at this point, I conclude this isn't possible.

the whole point of "running as administrator" or "sudo" is to run a program as "someone who belongs to a usergroup with rights to tinker with the system", which means running Program-A with system level privileges means the only one who can do so are those belonging to the admin group, because that's how it's supposed to be, and what i want to do defeats that point.

Since it seems there's no "close question" here, i'll just post this to close this one.

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If I've understood the question correctly, you'd like for the program to run with the privileges of a user with admin rights, but you'd like this program to run in the environment of the unprivileged user, so that changes made by the application are reflected in the unprivileged user's account, rather than the privileged user's.

This can be done using Impersonation.1 When you impersonate another user, an application will run in the context of the impersonated user.

To do this you need to:

  1. Right click the application in question (or a shortcut to it) while holding down the Shift key.
  2. From the menu choose the "Run as a different user"2 option
  3. When prompted, enter the user name and password of the admin user and click OK

1Some applications may detect impersonation and might revert back to the original non-admin identity (potentially silently) or simply refuse to run as an impersonated identity.

2 In versions of Windows prior to Vista the menu option may be titled "Run As...".

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  • let me get this straight. using my setup, i'd logon as "admin", "run as different user" a program. and it will run under admin(with priviledges) as "Username"?
    – Drew
    Nov 24, 2014 at 8:38
  • When logging in to Windows initially, you'd login as the non-admin user, then you'd right-click the relevant program while holding shift, choose "Run as different user" and enter the privileged user's user name and password. This will cause the program to run as the privileged (admin) user. Nov 24, 2014 at 9:19
  • I monitored the admin AppData\Roaming\ and the xnview still wrote there. also, i tested what i said, it runs "Username" as standard user, and used "Username"'s appdata\roaming all the same.
    – Drew
    Nov 24, 2014 at 10:16
  • Just to clarify, does this mean it does not work as you intend? Nov 24, 2014 at 10:22
  • No, it didn't. well, technically, it did. but "Username" was ran as a standard account, which is what it is. what i expected was that it would run elevated under the standard user "Username", which it didn't. I'm starting to think it simply isn't possible. because what i'm trying to do goes against the normal behavior of "run as admin".
    – Drew
    Nov 24, 2014 at 11:27

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