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How do I remove admin restrictions from Windows 7 laptops?

To relax the usual restrictions on Windows 7 laptops, use the Windows administrator account, but remember to record your password.

The administrator account in Windows 7 enables you to set several restrictions that typically prevent other users from performing certain tasks, such as accessing the Control Panel and Windows Registry, installing or uninstalling applications, and modifying settings on Windows 7 laptops.

Organizations often lock down a laptop in this way to maintain control of the system and to prevent malware from spreading when the laptop is connected to a network. An admin might configure the laptop manually, use Group Policy to enforce restrictions, or use a third-party utility.

When laptops are no longer part of such a controlled environment, users often want to remove the admin restrictions to have full use of the system. In this case, the administrator password is required, but is typically not known.

If files and/or settings must be preserved, you can recover or reset the administrator account using a third-party utility such as Windows Password Recovery Tool Ultimate or ElcomSoft System Recovery. Most utilities offer a free trial version, and many are available on the CNET Download site. You might need access to another computer in order to create a bootable disc or flash drive for the recovery utility.

If you don't need to protect files and/or settings on the laptop, and the installation media and product ID are available, the easiest method to remove administrative restrictions is to reinstall the operating system and enter a password for the administrator account when prompted.

When you recover, reset or create the new administrator password, be sure to record it in a safe place. You should also create a backup disc or flash drive for your user identity in Control Panel >> User Accounts and Family Safety >> User Accounts. If you forget or lose your password, you can use the disc or drive to reset the password in the future.

Once you have administrative privileges in Windows 7 laptops, you can set or remove restrictions as you like.

Next Steps

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This was last published in January 2015

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Have you had to permit user access to the Windows 7 administrator account, and if so, why?
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No, we have an IT manager on staff who is the sole administrator for the Windows 7 account. As part of our company policy, there is to be no outside user access (other employees) to the Windows 7 administrator account. We have this policy for better control over the sensitive data stored within the Windows 7 infrastructure within our offices. Allowing outside user access, even if supervised, allows for unwanted security breaches.
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