Managing the User Account Control Feature

Have you ever encountered prompts asking you to confirm an action that you have just initiated in your Windows 8.1 machine. No matter what you do in your computer that runs in Windows, there will always be some prompts that would appear occasionally every time you do something such as installing a third-party software or in other cases, when these installed programs are trying to do some changes to your computer.

These prompts come from a security feature that is called “User Account Control” or UAC and serves as a police guarding all the things that happens in your computer especially those that are related to user accounts and the way programs run or installed on your computer.

Back in Windows Vista, UAC was considered a big annoyance because it appears almost all the time while you’re using your computer but these were all solved and taken into control in Windows 7 and all the other Windows editions that followed. User Account Control might sound useless but this security tool helps protect your computer from any unauthorized changes that could be done by people who are spying on every thing that you do in your computer.

It also helps prevent system hijacking and other problems brought about by viruses and other forms of spyware and malware that are luring around the web just waiting for the perfect timing to do their destructive routine in your Windows machine. In this tutorial, we will be learning how you can manage the User Account Control feature and see what tweaks can be done so you can have UAC to work the way you want it to so just keep reading towards the bottom to learn all of these things.

Access the Control Panel Window

When doing any tweak in any Windows operating system edition, you will need to access the Control Panel. This is a very easy task back in the days of Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 because of the presence of the Start Menu but in Windows 8 and its improved version called Windows 8.1, things might seem confusing and outright intimidating especially to those who will be using this operating system for the first time. If you’re currently left clueless in how to access the Control Panel in your brand new Windows 8.1 machine then you will need to do is press on the Windows+X keys so you can access a hidden menu that will appear from the bottom-left portion of the screen as shown by the screenshot below.

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Now, from this menu, all you need to do is click on the link that says “Control Panel” and you will be able to access the main Window of the Control Panel. Another way in accessing the Control Panel Window is by using the Search feature. To do this, just press the Windows+S keys on your machine’s keyboard and the Search screen will appear from the right edge. This screen will contain a search keyword input box where you will need to type in “Control Panel” and wait until the search results underneath the input box.

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When the search results appears, you should be able to see the Control Panel shortcut which you will need to click in order to open the Control Panel Window. You can also access the Search feature through the Search charm which you find on the Charms bar. To access this bar, all you need to do is press on the Windows+C keys and you will be able to see five (5) icons that are overlaid on it. These icons also have labels describing what they are called. From here, just click on the one at the top which is labeled “Search” and Search screen will appear showing the same input box where you entered the words “Control Panel”. Just do the same steps as described above to finally access the Control Panel Window.

Access User Account Control Settings from the Control Panel Window

Once you arrive on the main Window of the Control Panel, you will need to click on the link that says “System and Security”. When this opens, you will be able to see even more links that will lead to different sections that are related to your computer’s security and what you will need to pay attention here is the one that says “Action Center” and under it, you will be able to see a sub-link that says “Change User Account Control settings” which you will need to click to access the UAC settings section.

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On the Window that follows, you will see a slider with a knob for adjusting how User Account Control works and when will it show some notifications in your computer. This security feature gets you notified when any of your installed apps or programs are trying to make unauthorized or malicious changes in your computer that can bring harm into your Windows 8.1 operating system and all of the files that are saved in your hard drive. If you want to set it to the highest security level then all you need to do is drag the knob to the last level upwards which says “Always notify”.

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You will also notice that the description which appears inside the box that is located at the right of the notification level adjustment knob changes whenever you move the knob. The descriptions let you know what the level which you moved the knob on to does. The notification level according to these knobs are described below from lowest to highest.

1. Never notify me when:

  • Apps try to install software or make changes to my computer
  • I make changes to Windows settings

2. Notify me only when apps try to make changes to my computer (do not dim my desktop)

  • Don’t notify me when ¬†make changes to Windows settings

3. Notify me only when apps try to make changes to my computer (default)

  • Don’t notify me when I make changes to Windows settings

4. Always notify me when:

  • Apps try to install software or make changes to my computer
  • I make changes to Windows settings

The description for the each User Account Control notification settings also show an information which will tell you why a certain setting is recommended or not. Be sure to pay attention to this information so you can have an idea of whether you should choose a certain notification setting level or not.

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Once you’re done making all the changes to your computer’s User Account Control settings, you will need to click on the button at the bottom of the Window that says “OK” so all the changes will be saved and made final. I would personally recommend that you set User Account Control to its default settings if you really want to get just the right protection. Choosing the notification settings at the bottom-most portion of the adjustment knob will expose you to some breaches which are brought about by programs and software which can do harmful changes to your system so be sure to set UAC to the safe levels to get the best protection from this free security tool by Microsoft!