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How to change User Account Control settings in Windows 7

UAC was one of Vista's most annoying features, and it's still hanging around like a bad smell in Windows 7. It is much less intrusive though -- here's how to customise it

2 min read

The User Account Control (UAC) tool was one of Vista's most vilified features -- popping up and nagging you whenever you wanted to install or update a program -- and many users will be surprised to discover it retains its place in Windows 7. But with a greater level of control, this new version is far less intrusive. Here we show you how to change the UAC settings and explain what each one does.

1. To view and change the UAC settings, first click on the Start button, then open Control Panel. Now click the 'System and Security' option and, in the resulting window (pictured below), you'll see a 'Change User Account Control settings' link. Click on this and the UAC window will appear.

Step 1

2. The slider bar that's displayed in the UAC window (below) can be used to select one of four settings. The default setting is the second-highest level of protection, which means a warning will appear if a program tries to change your Windows settings. The warning won't appear when you make changes yourself, however.

Step 2

3. The setting just below the default is very similar. In fact, it only makes a cosmetic change to how UAC works, in that it won't dim the desktop when a popup appears. This means it'll be less obvious when an alert pops up, so we'd recommend sticking to the default setting.

Step 3

4. If you're particularly worried about rogue software and being duped into unwittingly authorising changes to your Windows settings, you can push the UAC up to its highest level. In short, this means UAC popups will appear as often as they do in Vista, warning you whenever any changes are made to Windows' settings.

Step 4

5. Slide the bar right down to the bottom and you effectively turn the UAC feature off. With UAC at this setting, any program can make changes to Windows settings and you'll be left none the wiser. Unless you're having trouble with UAC when running a specific program, we'd recommend steering clear of this setting.

Step 5