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.

This post applies only to the situations where the user remembers the password for his account, but cannot log into the account due to a corrupt user profile or per-user registry. Corrupt user profile causes the error “The user profile service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded” when logging in to the account.


Whereas, for the “lost password or “lost admin privileges” kind of situations, you need to follow the instructions in the article Windows 10 Password Reset Methods for Lost Password Scenario to reset the user account password or restore the admin rights for the 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.

Enable 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 you cannot log in to your account.



Note: On a perfectly working Windows 10 computer with an admin user account already present, you won’t need to use the Recovery Options to enable the built-in administrator (“Administrator”) account.

Step 1: Log in 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 the Recovery Options menu.
  4. Exit and Continue to Windows 10.
  5. You’ll see the “Administrator” account in the sign-in screen.
    built-in administrator sign-in screen activated
  6. Carry out the administration tasks using this account — e.g., creating a new administrator account, fixing the registry or file system permissions, etc.
  7. Once done, log off from the “Administrator” account and log in to your user account.
  8. For security reasons, it’s better to disable the built-in administrator. To disable the built-in Administrator account, open an elevated Command Prompt window and type:
    net user administrator /active:no

    You can check the status of the “Administrator” account by running the command “net user administrator“. The “Account active” field tells if the account is active or not.

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


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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded Winhelponline.com in 2005.

12 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.

    Reply
  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…

    Reply
    • @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?

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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?

    Reply

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