I know this has been asked before because I already tried every answer I could google up. Please read through before marking it as duplicate.

My home machine has two accounts set up:

  • one simple unprivileged user
  • another administrator account with full control over everything

There are times when I would need to perform some action which requires administrator rights, such as deleteing something from C:\ . For the love of all that is holy I cannot convince the windows file explorer that it is running with administrator account with full control over everything. I tried:

  • running as administrator which prompts UAC to ask for username and password at which point I use the admin account
  • shift right click and choose run as different user at which point I receive the same prompt as above
  • running command prompt with the admin account and starting explorer.exe from there
  • checking the Run as administrator option in the advanced properties of the explorer shortcut
  • the suggestions from this superuser answer and failed
  • running various combinations of the runas command through an elevated command prompt

Every single time I want to perform some privileged action on some privileged file I get either the access denied message or another message stating my user is not in the administrators group. Even when I try to take ownership of a folder (from myself, because I am already the owner of it and all its contents) it tells me access denied.

And yes, I do have the rights to do anything and everything because if I use command prompt with the admin account I can rmdir, mkdir, etcdir all day long without any issues. I can even start free commander with admin account and do whatever without any problems. Why is the file explorer so stubborn?

The reason I have set up two accounts is that I like to remote into this machine, using RDP, from work for example. Only the unprivileged account is allowed to RDP into this machine. I cannot and do not want to allow RDP with the administrator account. This is just to explain why I don't log in with the administrator account but this does not affect the issue. Even when I am at home and log in with the admin account I experience the same problem with an elevated file explorer window.

It is not a corrupted window installation, this very same problem occurs on a fresh clean install after the hard drive has been formatted.

  • Explorer is deeply rooted in Windows and with the increased security measures of Win7 you might be unable to. Especially if there is no reason to do this. If you want to perform a privileged action it should ask for credentials and after providing them allow you to perform said action. If you do not get that prompt it does sound like something is off with your Windows Installation. Maybe you changed the UAC settings or similar? – Seth Nov 8 at 7:13
  • Yes, it does ask me for credentials but then it just tells me that access is denied. Also, I do change the UAC settings. I set it to the lowest security setting so that it bugs me as few times as possible. – user1969903 Nov 8 at 7:16
  • So if you try to delete a file you get the prompt to provide credentials and after you enter your administrative credentials it says you can't delete those files? Where are those files located? For instance the Program Files folder has some more strict security settings applied in comparison to a folder that you create yourself. Why is running an alternative file explorer like the one you mention insufficient? – Seth Nov 8 at 9:06
  • Sounds about right. I get the "you need permissions from..." message, I write in the admin credentials and after that I get access denied. For example files / folders in Program Files left over after uninstalling apps. It is sufficient but I'm just curious why is this very basic functionality not working in Windows. This is literally the only reason I have free commander installed. I'd rather not install it otherwise. – user1969903 Nov 8 at 10:20
  • I noticed that no matter how I start the file explorer, under the username column in task manager, I always see the unprivileged account. Is this normal? – user1969903 Nov 8 at 10:21

From the article How to Run File Explorer as Administrator in Windows 10:

It is not easy to run File Explorer as Administrator. This ability is locked and can't be enabled easily. Here is how you can enable this feature.

  • Download the free ExecTI, which allows running Programs as TrustedInstaller, and unpack it to some folder.

  • Unblock the program by right-click on its .exe, Properties, General tab, untick Unblock and then OK.

  • Start ExecTI and enter the command regedit.exe -m. This will open the Registry Editor running with TrustedInstaller permissions, so you may do the below registry modification.

  • Navigate to the Registry key
    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AppID\{CDCBCFCA-3CDC-436f-A4E2-0E02075250C2}

  • Rename the value RunAs to anything, for example to RunAs_my. Deleting will also work, but renaming will allow to later easily undo this modification.

  • Close regedit and restart Windows 10.

  • To run Explorer as Administrator, right-click C:\windows\Explorer.exe and select 'Run as administrator', or create a shortcut set to run as Administrator.

  • I already have the "Run as administrator" option. It's the first thing I specified I tried. Besides, I tried the changes you mention and still no luck. The article mentions windows 10. I am running windows 7. Perhaps this works on Windows 10? – user1969903 Nov 8 at 10:16
  • 1
    I missed that. For Windows 7, you may Enable the (Hidden) Administrator Account and login as that. – harrymc Nov 8 at 10:18
  • Yeah, I could do that but as I've said I don't want to use the admin account through remote connections. – user1969903 Nov 8 at 10:22
  • You might try in an elevated cmd "psexec -s explorer.exe` to run it as System, but be very careful and the results can sometimes be unexpected. – harrymc Nov 8 at 10:28
  • Or use explorer.exe /e,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D} to start My Computer only. – harrymc Nov 8 at 10:43

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