How to Always Start Task Manager As Administrator (Elevated) by Default?

Task Manager in Windows Vista and Windows 7 runs in non-elevated mode by default, showing only those processes running under the current user context. To be able to terminate or manage a process running under other user accounts, or to log off other users, you need to elevate Task Manager by clicking the Show processes from all users button in the Processes tab.

Alternately, you can create a desktop shortcut to Taskmgr.exe, right-click on the shortcut and click Run as administrator. But, this workaround won’t help if you mostly use the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keystroke to launch the Task Manager.

I’ve just found a way to start Task Manager in elevated mode by default when using the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keystroke or when running Taskmgr.exe directly, and sharing the knowledge in this post. The trick is to set the Debugger registry value for Taskmgr.exe, pointing to a VBScript which starts Task Manager elevated. The method which I found works perfectly fine, no matter which way you use to launch Task Manager.

Task Manager Run as Administrator (Elevated) by Default

Here are the instructions to make Task Manager always start in elevated mode:

  1. Open the C:\Windows\System32 folder.
  2. Make a copy of Taskmgr.exe and name the copy as Taskmgr2.exe
  3. Download and unzip the contents to a folder
  4. Move the file taskmgr.vbs to C:\Windows
  5. Double-click taskmgr-elev.reg to run it
  6. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc, or type taskmgr.exe in Start Orb to open Task Manager. It should now show the User Account Control elevation dialog. Click Continue so that Task Manager runs as administrator (elevated). And, when you run Task Manager from a standard user account, it should prompt for administrator credentials.

More Information

The registry fix above sets taskmgr.vbs as the Debugger for taskmgr.exe process, by writing to the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\Taskmgr.exe

Starting Task Manager will now invoke the script file taskmgr.vbs, which then launches taskmgr2.exe elevated. To reverse the changes, run the Undo.reg file, and then manually delete taskmgr.vbs from the Windows directory.

The excellent Process Explorer utility uses the same technique to replace Task Manager.

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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 in 2005.

9 thoughts on “How to Always Start Task Manager As Administrator (Elevated) by Default?”

  1. I have Windows 7 and your taskmgr.vbs wouldn’t work for me. Then I thought an easier way to do this would be to check “Run this program as an administrator” on the Compatibility tab in taskmgr.exe Properties, but the Compatibility tab is disabled for taskmgr.exe.

    So I opened Regedit and manualy added C:\Windows\System32\taskmgr.exe to the Compatibility list and set it to “RUNASADMIN”. It actualy worked! Now the Task Manager always runs as an administrator.

    So, go to:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers

    Create new String Value, and name it:

    Set it’s value to:

    That’s it!

    Or you can just copy this into Notepad and save it as a .reg file, then double-click the .reg file to merge it into the registry:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers]

  2. –EDIT–

    I just noticed that if you copy the above text into a .reg file the quotations (“) may get altered. So, after you paste it into Notepad you must delete each quotation (“) then retype a normal quotation.

    I hope I haven’t confused anyone. 🙂

  3. Great ! The taskmgr.vbs works for me on Win7. While …\AppCompatFlags\Layers “RUNASADMIN” does not work for me using Ctrl+Shift+Esc (works when launching taskmgr.exe by other means, though).

  4. Why this isn’t ranked higher on search returns is puzzling. This is the only real effective way of accomplishing what the majority want while maintaining CTRl-SHIFT-ESC as the hotkey.

  5. Agree with RB: this SHOULD be the #1 result.

    Not only does CTRL+ SHIFT + ESC and right-clicking the taskbar show all users’ processes, but this was so easy to do. THANKS, Ramesh! 🙂

  6. After using this method successfully, and *then* installing a recent Windows update (KB2962872), task manager wouldn’t open at all. Removing the Windows update did NOT help, and task manager was not available through shortcut keys, right-clicking the taskbar, or even directly clicking Taskmgr.exe itself.

    In case anyone else has this problem, here’s what I did to get everything working again, (including the author’s great solution):

    1. Delete “Taskmgr2.exe” (this is the COPY of taskmgr.exe you made in the System32 folder, NOT the original exe);

    2. Delete the “taskmgr.vbs” file that you copied to the Windows folder;

    3. Run the “Undo.reg” (included in the author’s .zip)

    Task Manager will open normally, with “show processes all users” unchecked. Now, if you go through the author’s processes from the beginning, Task Manager will show all users’ processes again.

    P.S. A quick search on the Microsoft update that interfered shows that it breaks other things as well.

    Hope this helps!

  7. Thank you to Robert Goscicki … adding this new entry via Regedit did the trick for me. I was indeed very tired of having to click the “Show processes from all users” every time. I had to first add the Key = “Layers” … and then add the String value.

  8. Merci pour ces précieuses informations.
    Les hommes de Dieu sont non seulement des hommes de science, mais surtout et aussi des hommes de COEUR !
    Puisse Dieu ajouter à votre bonté et donner plus de noblesse à votre esprit.


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