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How to Open an Elevated Command Prompt

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This article explains how to open an elevated Command Prompt in Windows 11, 10, or 8. It also includes instructions for Windows 7 and Vista, along with additional information on why you need an elevated Command Prompt and how to tell whether you have administrator privileges.

How to Open an Elevated Command Prompt in Windows 11, 10, or 8

If you’re using a keyboard with Windows 11, Windows 10, or Windows 8, you can open an elevated Command Prompt quickly from the Power User Menu. Just use the WIN+X keyboard shortcut and then select Terminal (Admin) (in Windows 11) or Command Prompt (Admin) (in Windows 10/8). Choose Yes on any User Account Control messages that might appear.

Depending on your settings and Windows configuration, Command Prompt may be replaced by Windows Powershell. If you’re using Windows 11, the option in the Power User Menu is for Terminal; you can get to Command Prompt after opening that program.

Another method is to use Task Manager:

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  1. Open Task Manager. The quickest way, assuming you’re using a keyboard, is via CTRL+SHIFT+ESC, but there are several other methods outlined in that link. One easy way is to type task manager into the search bar on the taskbar.
  2. Select Run new task at the top (Windows 11), or go to File > Run new task.
  3. In the Create new task window you see now, type the following in the Open text field:cmd …but don’t do anything else just yet!
  4. Check the box that says Create this task with administrative privileges.
  5. Choose OK and then follow any User Account Control requirements that might appear next. An elevated Command Prompt window will now appear, allowing unrestricted access to executing commands.
  6. Feel free to close Task Manager. It does not need to remain open to use Command Prompt.

How to Open an Elevated Command Prompt in Windows 7 or Vista

These are alternative steps you can follow on Windows 7 or Windows Vista:

  1. Locate the Command Prompt shortcut, usually in the Accessories folder in the Start Menu.
  2. Right-click it and choose Run as administrator.
  3. Accept any User Account Control messages or warnings.

An elevated Command Prompt window should appear, allowing access to commands that require administrative level privileges.

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When Do You Need an Elevated Command Prompt?

Some commands available in Windows require that you run them from an elevated Command Prompt. Basically, this means running the Command Prompt program (cmd.exe) with administrator-level privileges.

You’ll know if you need to run a particular command from within an elevated Command Prompt because it’ll clearly tell you that in an error message after running the command.

For example, when you try to execute the sfc command from a normal Command Prompt window, you’ll get the “You must be an administrator running a console session in order to use the sfc utility” message.

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Try the chkdsk command and you’ll get an “Access Denied as you do not have sufficient privileges or the disk may be locked by another process. You have to invoke this utility running in elevated mode and make sure the disk is unlocked” error.

Other commands give other messages, but regardless of how the message is phrased, or what Command Prompt command we’re talking about, the solution is simple: open an elevated Command Prompt and execute the command again.

More About Elevated Command Prompts

Don’t let all the discussion above convince you that you should, or need to, run Command Prompt as an administrator for most commands. For almost all Command Prompt commands, no matter what version of Windows, it’s perfectly okay to execute them from a standard Command Prompt window.

To be able to open an elevated Command Prompt window, either a) your Windows user account must already have administrator privileges, or b) you must know the password to another account on the computer that has administrator privileges. Most home computer user’s accounts are set up as administrator accounts, so this isn’t usually a concern.

How to Tell if You Have Administrator Privileges

There’s a very easy way to tell if the Command Prompt window you’ve opened is elevated or not: it’s elevated if the window title says Administrator; it’s not elevated if the window title just says Command Prompt.

An elevated Command Prompt window opens to the system32 folder. A non-elevated Command Prompt window instead opens to the user’s folder: C:\Users\[username]. The only exception is if you’ve opened an elevated Command Prompt via Terminal, in which case it might also open to the user’s folder.

If you plan on frequently using an elevated Command Prompt, then you should consider creating a new shortcut to Command Prompt that automatically starts the program with administrator-level access. 

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