Disable annoying UAC security prompts in Windows 7, Vista by switching to UAC quiet mode

I just made to switch from Windows XP to Windows 7. One interesting security feature in both Windows 7 and Vista is the Windows UAC (User Account Control), which is designed to prevent basic users and malicious programs from changing system critical settings.

This results in a lot of prompts popping up when launching many apps or performing some operations asking whether you wanted to allow these processes (that may make changes to your system) to proceed.

This post will outline how to get rid of these security prompts without switching off the UAC altogether, by using a free app called TweakUAC to switch the UAC to “quiet mode”.

There is always a tradeoff between defense mechanisms and quality of life. You may be more secure if you walled off your house completely yet might end up concealing what might be a nice view, and if you never risked rejection you might never start a romance with someone you really like, etc.

This is basically how I feel about the UAC in Vista and Windows 7: a well-meaning device that basically costs too much in terms of the quality of the user experience. What’s more, the presumed protection that the UAC provides is very debatable (see below).

The rest of this article will consist of 4 sections as follows:

  1. Why UAC does NOT work
  2. Why UAC does work
  3. A definition of the UAC quiet mode
  4. How to enable quiet mode using TweakUAC

1. Why UAC does NOT work: in a nutshell, because you do not listen to the boy that cries “wolf”. The frequency of these security prompts makes them essentially useless. If in 99.9% of instances I am being asked to give permission to safe apps and processes how can I be expected to take note of the 0.1% of the time when it may not be wise? This seems to me like a classic case of technologists forgetting that their users are human beings.

Moreover, the UAC is really intended to protect you from yourself. In itself it is not adequate security and you still need to have the usual arsenal of protection software (an antivirus, antispyware, and possibly firewall).

2. Why UAC does work: it works because, after reading up on the subject it seems that the primary impetus behind UAC is probably a policy decision by Microsoft intended to force developers to create applications that only require standard user rights. My guess is that in the long run this objective will have some measure of success, but it only reinforces the idea that as a normal user in the here-and-now it would be a good idea to simply get rid of UAC. Or at least to switch it to “quiet” mode.

3. A definition of the UAC quiet mode: the so-called UAC quiet mode offered by TweakUAC suppresses the elevation prompts of UAC without turning the UAC off completely. The following is a direct quote from the TweakUAC web site:

“In such a mode, you keep all the positive effects of UAC, such as Internet Explorer operating in the protected mode, applications starting without the administrative privileges by default, etc. The only thing that gets changed is that you will no longer see the infamous “Windows needs your permission to continue” messages whenever you attempt to make a change to your Vista configuration, or when you run a program that needs administrative rights.”

(Note: click here to visit the original page where this text was found)

In addition, quiet mode seems to disable prompts in your administrator account while maintaining these in other user accounts.

4. How to enable quiet mode using TweakUAC:

Go to the TweakUAC program page; download, install, and run. Select “Switch UAC to quiet mode” and click ok (you will not need to reboot). UAC prompts from this point onward will not appear, but the UAC is not completely switched off and preserves some measure of protection as defined above..


 
 
 
Samer Kurdi

Samer Kurdi

Has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com
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  • Nathan Taggart

    You know in Windows 7 You don’t need a program to do this all you have to do is go to control panel then to User Accounts and Family then to User Accounts and finally click on Change User Account Control Settings and There it is… There’s no need to get a completely separate program when the feature is already built in

  • http://www.area404.nl Grolo

    You can easily do this in windows…

  • http://www.simplesmente.com Ricardo

    Regarding UAC here is my best advice:
    Try Norton Lab’s “Vista User Account Control”, available free of charge from Symantec. It is Beta, but it has been working for me for about a year already. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/54p1cb

    What this UAC control does is, it has a “remember me” feature, which is pretty smart and works like AdBlock or Pop-up busting programs: it remembers what it should and what it shouldn’t block. This “remember me” feature seems to make it more desirable than this alternative given here.

  • http://carbonize.co.uk/ Carbonize

    The stupid thing is that UAC is supposed to remember your choices. At least I’m damn sure that’s what I read once. I’m sure I read that UAC was supposed to learn but buggered if I’ve seen it learn anything :|

    Of course if we start creating whitelists we open up the possibility of a virus checking for known whitelist programs and masquerading as them.

  • http://www.giudicafilm.com minipower

    @ Taggart: the ridiculous thing is that when you change the UAC feature from windows 7 user panel it asks again with the damned UAC windows and then asks for reboot, why they don’t do somehting about this?
    They can copy from other systems many features and ideas but cannot do oen of their own better, they dont give a schit about customers?

  • jasray

    Yes, why add yet another program to a program to a program to an OS? Simply turn off UAC.

  • Josh

    @Ricardo:

    Yeah, I tried it, and it sucks! Norton should be ashamed to release such a horrible program. Not only does it work horribly, it looks like something that was digested, pooped out and puked on. Norton has never gone that low before.

  • http://www.simplesmente.com Ricardo

    @Carbonize:
    Yes, perhaps white lists are an issue — but I am pretty sure not a bigger issue than people turning off UAC. I agree that the learning feature should’ve been there from MS from the start.

    @Jasray:
    Hmmm… I think either the program suggested here by Samer or the Norton alternative give you better protection than UAC. But then again, some people may get away without immunization shots if everyone else is doing it…

    @Josh:
    I don’t understand why you think it works so horribly. I keep it on my everyday laptop, and I can’t really find anything to complain about. It certainly works (otherwise Everything, the search program, would bring a UAC dialogue every time), and it uses dialogue boxes which are pretty standard…

  • jasray

    ThreatFire by PC Tools provides a viable alternative–or the Comodo Firewall stops unwanted, malicious files from running. Lots of options. I did notice UAC acts much like the Admin privileges on Ubuntu, so the concept isn’t new.

  • http://www.7tutorials.com 7 Tutorials

    These kind of tools are actually compromising the security of Windows 7. I really do not recommend people to ever disable UAC, especially in Windows 7 where it is less annoying than in Windows Vista.
    Before making so bad recommendations to your readers, it would be better for you to document yourself a little.

    I honestly recommend you this series, which sheds more light into the issue with UAC and why you should not disable it:
    http://www.7tutorials.com/uac-why-you-should-never-turn-it-off
    http://www.7tutorials.com/windows-7-vs-windows-vista-uac-benchmark

    Samer: Even if you don’t publish this comment. Do read these articles. You might change your mind afterward.

  • Pingback: ?????????????? UAC ?????????? Vista/7 - Techblog

  • Hiram Q. Pustule

    @7 Tutorials: My conclusion on UAC (and yes, I read your article, thanks for linking to it) is that it’s a solution in search of a problem. I don’t think it provides any useful functionality that isn’t already done better–and less irritatingly–by a combination of hardware firewall, software firewall, virus filter, and malware scanner. And judicious application of the most effective malware detector ever produced, the human brain. (Your mileage may vary, and if you’ve been infected multiple times by malware and cannot seem to understand why, then maybe you’re UAC’s target audience. [Not you, 7 Tutorials, but the hypothetical reader who doesn't run a firewall or virus scanner and doesn't practice safe computing.])

    I do not need a software mother asking me if I’m really, really sure I want to run a program immediately after I very clearly communicated my desire to run a program by double-clicking its icon. I am very obviously not alone in that sentiment, and Microsoft would do well to try to wrap their collective heads around that fact. An OS is supposed to help me do what I want to do, not constantly second-guess me and get in my way all the time. I have a department director who meets that need in my life, thank you very much.

  • Samer

    @ Ricardo: I could not get the Norton Utility to work on my 64 bit Windows 7, unfortunatley.

    After reading more on the UAC including the artilces linked to here I still think that using it in quiet mode is the way to go.

  • Womble

    Well i’m going to settle for a drastically cut down post here because every time I write something in reply I become too emotionally involved in it.

    Let me just say I’m with 7 Tutorial on this

  • arjay

    so if the purpose of this is just to shut UAC the hell up, then why have UAC in the first place? *Perhaps* if you used IE it might make sense, but how many do that?