Lost Administrator Rights in Windows 10? Recover the Account via Windows RE

Summary: This article tells you how to restore your user account’s lost administrator rights and privileges in Windows 10.

This article talks about the “lost administrator rights” issue caused by tampered user account group membership. Similar to the ‘lost password’ scenario, losing your account’s administrator rights & privileges is an awkward lock-out situation where the user can’t run anything that requires elevation.

If your user account has lost admin rights, it may have been caused by malware. Or you may have inadvertently set yourself a “Standard User” via Account settings or configured the Local Security Policy or user account group membership incorrectly.

This means you can’t go back to the User Account settings page and set yourself as administrator. In such cases, the Yes button in the UAC dialog will be missing or grayed out.

UAC Yes Button Missing

There is a simple trick to get back lost administrator rights and privileges for your account!

Lost the account password? It’s a different issue.

If you have forgotten the built-in administrator and/or the user account passwords and cannot log in, this article doesn’t apply. It’s a different scenario, and the solution for that is available in the article Windows 10 Password Reset Methods for Lost Password Scenario.

I had to split the content into two articles for better clarity. The article addresses the “lost admin rights” issue, and the linked article above addresses the “lost password” issue in Windows 10.

Solution: Lost administrator privileges for the user account

This situation is something where the user remembers the password and able to log in to his account. But the user account has lost its administrator privileges and works as a limited user account.

If your user account has turned into a standard or Guest account (by incorrect group membership change), you’ll be unable to run any program elevated. The Yes button in the User Account Control (UAC) dialog will be missing.

To restore administrative rights and privileges for the user account, follow the method below:

Method 1: Use Safe mode to log in as built-in Administrator

Log in to the built-in Administrator account via Safe Mode and then promote your user account back as administrator. The built-in “Administrator” account password is blank by default. But if you have set a password earlier, this method assumes that you remember the “Administrator” account password.

tips bulb iconThe built-in “Administrator” account shows up on the sign-in screen while in Safe Mode if no other administrator account user exists on the computer. The built-in Administrator shows up on the login screen (in Safe Mode) irrespective of whether it’s currently enabled (active) or not.

  1. Click Start, click on the Power button, press and hold the Shift key down and click Restart. This starts the Windows Recovery Environment.
  2. In Windows RE, click Troubleshoot → Advanced options → Startup Settings.

  3. In Startup Settings, press the 4 or F4 button on your keyboard.
    windows re startup settings
  4. Windows 10 will now restart in Safe Mode. In Safe Mode, you’ll see the “Administrator” account in the sign-in screen.
  5. Click “Administrator,” and type the password and log in to the account.
  6. Fix the group membership of your original account using the following command-line syntax from an elevated Command Prompt window:
    net localgroup administrators {username} /add


    net localgroup administrators Ramesh /add

    (For more information, read the section fixing the Group Membership covered in the next section of this article.)

    That’s it! You now promoted your user account to an administrator (from Standard or Guest account privileges) account.

  7. Log off from the built-in Administrator account.
  8. Restart Windows.
  9. Log in to your original account now — e.g., Ramesh

This restores your user account’s administrator privileges. The UAC Yes button should appear now.

Fix Group Membership of the Corrupt User Account (Set it as administrator)

After logging in as the built-in Administrator, you need to fix the group membership of your original (corrupt) user account. The corrupt account may show up as Standard User or Guest — i.e., it’s not a member of the Administrators group.

You can view the group membership of accounts by running the control userpasswords2 command from the Run dialog.

make user account administrator group membership net localgroup

To fix the user account group membership and make it an administrator, from the user accounts dialog shown above:

  • Select your account → Properties → Group Membership → Administrator → OK.
    lost administrator rights - standard user to administrator - userpasswords2

Alternately, via Command Prompt:

Open elevated Command Prompt, and type the following command:

net localgroup administrators {username} /add

Example: If the username is RobertM, run this command:

net localgroup administrators RobertM /add

make user account administrator group membership net localgroup

Close and reopen the control userpasswords2 dialog. You’ll see that the account RobertM in this example, is made an administrator.

make user account administrator group membership net localgroup

Log in to the user account and see if the rights and privileges are restored and you’re able to run programs elevated.

Method 2: System Restore Rollback from Windows RE

If you haven’t turned off System Restore and restore points are available, you can roll back the system configuration to a previous working state.

System Restore rollback replaces the entire registry hives from a previous snapshot. This is a convenient option if your group membership was recently changed; System Restore would restore your previous settings.

System Restore via Windows RE

For more information, check out the article Perform System Restore Rollback Offline in Windows 10 [Recovery Options]

If you’ve forgotten the account passwords for the built-in administrator and your user account, then none of the above methods will help. In that case, see the article Windows 10 Password Reset Methods for Lost Password Scenario to reclaim access to your account and promote the account to an administrator.

I hope this guide helped restore administrator rights and privileges for your user account in Windows 10 and earlier OS.

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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.

1 thought on “Lost Administrator Rights in Windows 10? Recover the Account via Windows RE”

  1. I would like to say thank you to Ramesh and his winhelponline.com for an excellent problem solving article. I had somehow been relegated to a Guest account on my own computer and could not find a way to get my Admin privileges back until I found this article. Now I am happily back to normal and I didn’t have to reinstall my operating system to do it. This page will be permanently bookmarked for future use and reference.


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