Tutorial Thursday

There was a topic in our forum started a few months back regarding the User Account Control (UAC) in Windows Vista. The question asked whether there was a way to prevent the UAC prompt on applications you know are safe, and at the time the question was specifically directed towards Joost.

Unfortunately there is no way to tell the UAC to “remember my decision,” but there really should be. The UAC should be smart enough to watch for changes in the file, and if something does get modified it should notify the user.

One of my own peeves is in regards to modifying items in the Start Menu. The Start Menu Programs folder is where a lot of applications install their shortcuts. After I install something I like to cleanup the Start Menu so that there aren’t a ton of folders, and also delete shortcuts that I’ll never need. Vista already lets me modify my own Start Menu items, but modifying items that were installed for all users forces a UAC prompt each time.

The method that I’m about to demonstrate is a workaround I found, and works great for disabling the UAC on specific files or folders. It is important to know that the UAC will be completely disabled for the files or folders you choose to apply this to, so be careful how you use it. 

  1. Open Windows Explorer and find the file/folder that you would like to remove the UAC prompt from. In this example I am going to do it for the Programs folder for All Users so that it is easier to manage my items in the Start Menu. This folder is found at:
    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
    Windows Vista UAC Prompt
  2. Right click on the file/folder and select the Properties option.
    Windows Vista UAC Prompt
  3. Go the the Security tab and and click the Edit button. You’ll receive a UAC prompt that you need to confirm before being able to continue.
    Windows Vista UAC Prompt
  4. Click the Add button, and then in the Enter the object names to select field, type your Vista username that is used when you login. My username is Ryan J. Wagner so that is what I entered in.
    Windows Vista UAC Prompt
  5. Press OK on the Select Users or Groups window, and then check the Full Control box on the Permissions for Programs window before pressing OK.
    Windows Vista UAC Prompt

That’s all there is to it! Now in that example I won’t receive a UAC prompt every time I move or delete an item in my Start Menu, which I do quite often. Being able to do this has saved me a lot of headaches, but I just wish I thought to try it sooner.

This can also be done for applications that you’re having problems with running in Vista. You can just go into the corresponding folder for your program (which is normally located in the Program Files) and add your username to the permissions. That way you’ll never need to run an application as an administrator because it already has full access to its own folder.

You do want to be careful for with what you choose to do this with, because it is essentially disabling the UAC for that specific file or directory. That means a virus or spyware would be able to access those files as easy as if you disabled UAC system-wide, so think twice about what you apply this technique to.

This solution isn’t the type of fix that I would have liked to do, and as stated earlier I would like to see Microsoft address an easier way to prevent files, folders, and applications from constantly displaying a UAC prompt. I’ll cross my fingers and hope that Vista Service Pack 1 brings some welcomed updates to the User Account Control!