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Don't Shut Off Vista UAC, There's A Better Way


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One of the most annoying things about Microsoft Windows Vista is User Account Control, and all the warnings it pops up to ask if you just did something you really wanted to do. Like, either (a) it wasn't you who pressed the Enter key, but the ghost of your grandfather standing at your shoulder, or (B) you really are too stupid to be trusted to know you want to install a program or open an attachment. The temptation is strong to shut UAC warnings up by disabling the controls, but that causes more problems, like making it even more difficult to do some things in Vista. Fortunately, there's a better way.

The annoyance of UAC pop-ups is unfortunately front-loaded: they happen most often when Vista is new and you're installing new applications and downloading files more often. The temptation is strong to kill them, because it's easy. Just go to Start > Control Panel > Security > Security Center > Other Security Settings. But the problem with shutting off UAC is that other security-conscious Vista components may decide it's just not safe to run without them, like the Windows Installer.

The UAC pop-up is not just a simple "Are You Sure?" warning. Responding affirmatively to the pop-up actually elevates your permissions, if your user account is in the Administrator group and your permissions can be elevated.

At Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) recently I was whining about UAC to a Microsoft techie who told me there's a switch that can be set to automatically accept all UAC warnings, and using this switch rather than disabling UAC is a good thing because it leaves Vista security in place.

He's probably right, but the problem is you need a Ph.D. in Vista to figure out how to set the switch.

The techie sent me a screen shot of how to find the switch in the Microsoft Management Console, which is great if you're in IT for a big company, but if you're sitting at home with a new Vista box trying to figure this out, that's not going to help much. There is a way to do it through the Control panel.

Click Start and Control Panel. Switch to Classic View (if you haven't already) and click on the Administration Tools icon. In the list that opens click on Local Security Policy, and in the next window, Local Policies (a tiny bit redundant, but all UIs can't be perfect -- If UAC is running you'll get a UAC pop-up somewhere in here). In the Local Policies list click Security Options, and scroll down to "User Account Control: Behavior" (the full title of the policy is "User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompt for administrators in Admin Approval Mode" but the window barely opens that far). Double-click the title and in the dialog box change its setting from "Prompt for Consent" to "Elevate without prompting." Click OK and the urge to tear your hair and scream at your PC will be greatly diminished in the future.

(One note of caution: This works for Vista Ultimate. I don't guarantee it will work in all versions, or in all time zones. Please add a comment below if you've got a version of Vista it doesn't work with.)

Posted by David DeJean, Jun 11, 2007 04:57 PM

Source: InformationWeek

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  • 1 month later...

So which are the actions which trigger the UAC prompt.

1. Install/Uninstall of applications

2. Changing Firewall settings

3. Installing Drivers & ActiveX controls

4. Installing/Configuring Windows Update

5. Adding/Removing/Changing user accounts/types

6. Accessing, Viewing or Changing another User

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