How To Capture a Screenshot of the User Account Control Elevation Dialog

The User Account Control (UAC) elevation dialog is displayed in secure desktop, and hence the Print Screen button wouldn’t capture it. If you’re a technical writer who needs to capture the User Account Control dialog to add it to a documentation or help file, here are some ways to take a screenshot of the User Account Control (UAC) prompt.

How to Screen Capture the UAC dialog in Windows?

Method 1: Lower the User Account Control Slider (UAC) temporarily

Follow these steps to capture the UAC prompt using Print Screen key.

  1. Open Control Panel, User Account Control settings.
  2. The User Account Control settings in the Control Panel show these 4 options:
    • Always notify
    • Notify me only when apps try to make changes to my computer (default)
    • Notify me only when apps try to make changes to my computer (do not dim my desktop)
    • Never notify me (UAC turned off)
  3. Set the UAC options slider to the 2nd lowest setting namely “Notify me only when apps try to make changes to my computer (do not dim my desktop)“.
    user account control settings - slider
  4. Click OK and click Yes when asked for confirmation.
  5. Now, perform the steps that’ll trigger the UAC elevation dialog. For example, open Notepad as administrator. You’ll see the UAC prompt, but this time you can capture it using the Alt + PrintScreen key.
    user account control screenshot the prompt
  6. Open Microsoft Paint, paste the captured image from clipboard and save the file.

Method 2: Disabling UAC Secure Desktop Security Policy

Note: As the Security Policy Editor is not available in Windows Home Editions, you need to edit the registry or use the REG files below to disable the secure desktop elevation policy. See section Registry Fix below.

Local Security Policy

  1. Click Start, type Secpol.msc and press ENTER
  2. Expand Local Policies, and click Security Options
  3. Double-click the following option, and set it to Disabled:
    User Account Control: Switch to the secure desktop when prompting for elevation
  4. Start a program that requires UAC elevation. The elevation dialog should now appear on the interactive user’s desktop, and can be captured using the Print Screen key or using a third-party screen capture tool.
    user account control screenshot the prompt

Using Registry Edit

The above setting is stored in the following registry location, in a DWORD (32-bit) value named PromptOnSecureDesktop.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

If the Security Policy Editor is not available in your edition of Windows, use the registry method. Download promptonsecuredesktop.zip, unzip the contents and run disable_secure_uac.reg. (A restart may be required after applying the REG file.) To restore the original setting (highly recommended), run the file enable_secure_uac.reg.



Important: After finishing your task of capturing the UAC Dialog, re-enable the User Account Control: Switch to the secure desktop when prompting for elevation Policy. For more information, read article Understanding User Account Control (UAC) from Microsoft Technet.

Method 3: Using Remote Desktop

If you have another computer running Windows, you can use Remote Desktop Connection to login to your Windows computer, and capture the UAC dialog shown in the host computer and save it.


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About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012.

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