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Windows 7 hints and tips

Configure User Account Control

For many people User Account Control is one of the most irritiating features of Windows Vista and it is responsible for some of the negative publicity that Microsoft got over the operating system. Will the company repeat the mistake in Windows 7?

Actually, User Account Control (UAC) wasn't a mistake and it is really a positive step in the right direction. The main problem with it is that it is the most visible and consequently the most infuriating when you start Vista for the first time.

In the first few days when you get your computer or operating system you will spend quite a lot of time installing software and configuring the system to work the way that you prefer. This means that you see lots of UAC alerts and it creates a bad impression. Once you have Windows configured and your software is installed UAC prompts are much rarer, but long before this happens most people have turned off UAC.

UAC in Windows 7Microsoft hasn't removed UAC from Windows 7, but it has modified the way that it works and you will hardly notice that it is there, which is no doubt a great reliefe to many people.

You can think of UAC in Vista as version 1 and we all know that version 1 of anything is pretty poor. Version 2 is always much better and so it is with UAC in Windows 7.

Go to the Control Panel, open User Accounts and click Change User Account Control settings. Instead of the simple on/off tick box that you used to get with Vista, there is now a slider with four different settings.

At one end of the scale is Always notify and at the other is Never notify. These are equivalent to Vista's on and off tick box, but now there are two more settings in between. Here are the four UAC settings from the top down to the bottom:

  • This is like Vista and you will be notified whenever you or a program tries to make changes to the system. Even trivial things can cause UAC dialogs to be displayed.
  • One step down from the top setting is the new default. You will be notified when programs try to make changes to the system, but if you are logged on as an administrator you won't see any UAC dialogs if you make changes to Windows setup and configuration.
  • This is like the previous setting, so programs trigger it, but you don't if your an administrator. The difference is that the desktop isn't dimmed. The dimming in the top two settings provides extra security by disabling everything but the UAC dialog. Here you have a normal desktop with a UAC dialog.
  • The lowest setting turns off UAC completely. It's the same as the off setting in Vista.

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