Force-run a program as a regular user in Windows

Ever had a program that keeps asking for administrator rights to run even though you know it doesn’t need them? I hate when developers are too lazy to do things the right way and figure “I’ll just run as the admin and then do what I need to do!” Yeah, great idea, nevermind the giant security issues it poses or the fact that regular users like employees can’t use the program anymore! I could continue, but I’ll say something nasty. Let’s bypass this unnecessary admin request.

The approach

I’m going to repeat myself for a second so that we’re both on the same page. This process is not for bypassing justified and proper requests for privilege elevation. This is for cases when programs are incorrectly asking for administrator rights most likely because they were coded for pre-Windows Vista operating systems or the programmers were just out-to-lunch when making the program.

Basically, we are going to bypass (wherever possible) UAC prompts and we are going to tell Windows to run the program in the permissions-context of the invoking user. To do this, we need to access the all powerful registry.

Edit the registry

  1. Open regedit (Start > Run > regedit)
  2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers
  3. Make a new String Value
    • Value name: C:\path\to\your\executable.exe
    • Value data: RunAsInvoker
  4. Exit regedit

Alternatively, if you’d rather import a file directly into your registry, you can use this as a template and edit as appropriate:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

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

Copy the above text into notepad and save it to your desktop with whatever name you want and the extension ‘.reg’. Then double-click and confirm the warning prompt to import the data into your registry.

Final thoughts

Hopefully this little tip helps you avoid annoying and unnecessary prompts for elevation especially from older programs meant for a different generation of Windows!

Thanks for reading my techie-thoughts on this issue. Have any comments or suggestions? Want to add your tips? Things you want me to cover in a future article? Comment below!