How to Enable the Built-in Administrator in Windows 10 via Recovery Options

There are situations where you’ll need to activate and use the built-in Administrator account in Windows. The built-in Administrator account is disabled by default. If your existing admin user account profile gets corrupted (and you have no alternate user account with admin privileges), you’ll need to enable and use the built-in administrator account to fix things up or create a second administrator account.

hand point iconOn the other hand, for lost password situations, you need to follow the instructions in the article Fix: Lost Administrator Rights or Password in Windows 10 to restore the admin rights for your user account.

This article tells you how to enable the built-in administrator account (named “Administrator“) in Windows 10 and log in to it from Safe mode. It assumes that you know the password for your user account, but you’re unable to log in to your account due to profile corruption or other reasons.

How to Enable the Built-in Administrator in Windows 10 via Recovery Options

Enabling the built-in administrator account can be done through Windows Recovery Environment (aka “Recovery Options”), if Windows doesn’t boot normally or if you’re unable to login to your account.

Note: If a perfectly working Windows 10 computer with an administrator user account already present and working correctly, you won’t have the need to enable the built-in administrator (“Administrator”) account. This article assumes that you’re either unable to start Windows 10 normally, or unable to login to your administrator-level user account due to profile corruption or similar issues.

Step 1: Login to Advanced Recovery Options (Windows RE)

  1. From the sign-in screen in Windows 10, press and hold the SHIFT key on the keyboard.
  2. With the SHIFT key still pressed, click the Power button and then click Restart.
  3. In the Recovery Options menu, click Troubleshoot, and then click Advanced Options.
    windows recovery options

Note: If Windows 10 doesn’t boot, follow these steps to access the Recovery Options screen.

  • Attempt to boot the system 2 or 3 times. After 3 failed tries, you’ll have the option to get into the Recovery Options directly, after going through the automatic repair (“Startup Repair”) process.

Step 2: Enable the Built-in Administrator account from Windows RE

  1. In the Advanced options dialog, click Command Prompt.
  2. In the Command Prompt window, type the following command and press ENTER:
    net user administrator /active:yes

    net user administrator active yes winre

  3. Type exit to return to Recovery Options menu.
  4. Exit and Continue to Windows 10.

Step 3: Login to built-in Administrator account

  1. When you get to the sign-in screen, hold the SHIFT key down while you select Power icon, and click Restart.
  2. Your computer restarts to the “Choose an option” screen.
  3. Select Troubleshoot → Advanced options → Startup Settings → Restart.
  4. After your computer restarts, you’ll see a list of options. Select 4 or F4 to start your PC in Safe Mode, or select 5 or F5 for Safe Mode with Networking.
  5. Log in as Administrator from Safe mode.
  6. Carry out the administration tasks using this account, such as creating a new administrator account or fixing registry or file system permissions etc.
  7. For security reasons, it’s better to disable it once you finish all your tasks using this account. To disable the built-in Administrator account, open an elevated Command Prompt window and then type:
    net user administrator /active:no

That’s it! Use your built-in administrator account very scarcely.

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About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded 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.

10 thoughts on “How to Enable the Built-in Administrator in Windows 10 via Recovery Options”

  1. The above steps doesn’t work. Even selecting the command prompt asks me to sign in to the administrator account of which i forgot the password.

  2. Ramesh,
    Your logic is circular.
    The 2nd line of your page says: ” If your existing admin user account gets locked up and you need to create a second administrator account, you’ll need to use the built-in administrator account to accomplish the task.”
    But now your saying that to activate the built-in administrator account that you need to login as an administrator.
    If I had an active admin acct I wouldn’t need the built-in one, so…

    • @Jon: It may look like circular logic, but it’s not. It explains the situation where you know the user account password but the system doesn’t let you login to your profile due to corruption or any other issues. If you know the account password, then you can enter Win RE (without using setup disk) and perform the remaining tasks. OTOH, if the account password is lost, see note that reads: [[[On the other hand, for “lost password” situations, you need to activate the built-in administrator account using the information in the article Fix: Lost Administrator Rights or Password in Windows 10]]]

      I’ve now revised the paragraph for more clarity.

  3. Hello, When I got to Step 3, part log in as an administrator, the laptop ‘hanged’ couldn’t proceed to do administrative tasks.
    What should I do?

  4. I’ve gotten to the command prompt button but instead of taking me to the command prompt it just takes me to a screen telling me to sign into an admin account and I have no clue what the password is.

  5. WITHOUT a Microsoft Account Password, this whole exercise of trying to create an other account of any kind WILL NOT work – because without a password for the existing account, IT or ANYTHING else cannot be accomplished >>>>after hours of trying to save my stuff – without a password I am finally giving up and re-installing windows with a local account, because I know I can bypass the password if necessary.

  6. Namaste Ramesh,
    My name is Michael Jon, I followed all your instructions, I am currently trying to initialize the administrative login on a Lenovo ThinkPad, I followed all the steps and when I got to the command prompt it acknowledged that the command successfully executed and when I keep restarting and coming back to the logon screen the administrative login is not there, I attempted it twice over, any ideas as to what else the issue could be thank you so much for your time.

  7. When I click on the Command Prompt under Advanced Options it tells me to login with administrator account which is not active. What can I do?


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