A Command Prompt allows you to run programs, manipulate Windows settings, and access files by typing in commands that you wish to execute. To start a Command Prompt you simply need to type cmd.exe in the search field in the Start menu or click on Start, then Accessories, and then click on the Command Prompt icon. A window will appear, called the Command Prompt, that will open in your user profile folder and wait for you to issue commands. An example of this Command Prompt can be seen below:
Default Command Prompt Window
The problem with the standard Command Prompt is that any commands you run in it operate as if you do not have Administrative privileges. So you won't be able to run any commands or access any files that require these privileges.
It is for this reason, that we need to be able to open what is called an Elevated Command Prompt, which is a Command Prompt that allows you to access files and programs as an Administrator of the machine. There are three methods that can be used to open an Elevated Command Prompt and I have outlined them both below.
Method 1: Run As Administrator from shortcut
The first method is to launch the Command Prompt as an Administrator. This can be achieved by clicking on the Start menu, then selecting All Programs, and then Accessories. You will now see a shortcut labeled Command Prompt. Right-click on it and select Run as administrator as shown below.
Run as administrator
When you select Run as administrator a User Account Control prompt will appear asking if you would like to allow the Command Prompt to be able to make changes on your computer.
User Account Control Prompt
Click on the Yes button and you will now be at the Elevated Command Prompt as shown below.
Elevated Command Prompt
Please note that the Elevated Command Prompt starts in the Windows System32, for example C:\Windows\System32\, folder rather than the User Profile. In this Elevated Command Prompt you can now launch programs or access files that require Administrative privileges.
Method 2: Use Ctrl+Shift+Enter to launch Cmd.exe
It is also possible to launch cmd.exe from the Start Menu search field by using the Ctrl+Shift+Enter keyboard combination. To use this method, click on the Start menu and in the search field enter cmd as shown in the image below.
cmd.exe in the Start Menu search field
Once you type cmd, press the Ctrl+Shift+Enter keyboard combination and cmd.exe will be launched as if you selected Run as Administrator. You will then see a User Account Control prompt asking if you would like to allow the Command Prompt to be able to make changes on your computer. Click on the Yes button and you will now be at the Elevated Command Prompt.
Method 3: Create an Elevated Command Prompt Shortcut
If you find that you use the Elevated Command Prompt often and would like an easier way to launch it, you can make a short cut to it on your desktop or pinned to your Taskbar. To do this you can click on the Start menu, then selecting All Programs, and then Accessories. You will now see a shortcut labeled Command Prompt. Right-click on it and either drag it to your desktop and copy it there, select Pin to Start Menu, or select Pin to Taskbar (Windows 7 only). Once the Command Prompt shortcut is where you want it, right-click on it and select Properties.
In the properties screen, make sure you are on the Shortcut tab and click on the Advanced button. You will now be at a screen similar to the one below.
As shortcut's advanced properties screen
At this screen put a checkmark in the box labeled Run as administrator, as shown above, and then click the OK button. Then click OK one more time to exit the shortcut's properties. Now whenever you double-click on this shortcut it will automatically run the Command Prompt with elevated privileges.
For more information on the Command Prompt and its available commands you can view our Introduction to the Windows Command Prompt tutorial. As always, if you have any questions regarding this procedure please ask us in our Windows 7 forum.
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