How to Open an Elevated Command Prompt

Open Command Prompt as an administrator in Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, & Vista

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.

When Do You Need an Elevated Command Prompt?

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.

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.

Time Required: Opening an elevated Command Prompt will take most of you under a minute from start to finish. Once you know how to do it, you'll be even faster the next time.

The specific steps involved in opening an elevated Command Prompt differ somewhat depending on your operating system. The first tutorial works for Windows 11, Windows 10, and Windows 8, and the second for Windows 7 and Windows Vista. See What Version of Windows Do I Have? if you're not sure.

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 Windows 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 Windows Terminal; you can get to Command Prompt after opening that program.

The following process only works for Windows 11, Windows 10, and Windows 8, which is unfortunate since it's super-simple and works for elevating other programs as well, not just Command Prompt.

  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 the app name into Cortana's search field.

    Task Manager in Cortana Search menu
  2. Go to File > Run new task.

    Run new task menu item in File menu in Task Manager for Windows 10

    Don't see the File menu? You may first have to select More details at the bottom of the Task Manager window to show a more advanced view of the program, including the File menu.

  3. In the Create new task window you see now, type the following in the Open text field:


    ...but don't do anything else just yet!

  4. Check the Create this task with administrative privileges. box.

    cmd typed into open field in Create new task window in Task manager, with Create this task with administrative privileges checked

    Don't see this box? That means that your Windows account is a standard account, not an administrator account. Your account must have administrator privileges to be able to open an elevated Command Prompt this way. Follow the Windows 7/Vista method below, or try the tip just below these instructions.

  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.

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

  1. Locate the Command Prompt shortcut, usually in the Accessories folder in the Start Menu.

    If you're having trouble finding it, see How to Open Command Prompt (the non-elevated kind). But first, there's an intermediate step you need to take.

  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.

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].

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. See How to Create an Elevated Command Prompt Shortcut if you need help.

In Windows XP, users have Administrator privileges by default. When you open a Command Prompt in XP it will be elevated unless you have another type of profile.

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