How to disable secure desktop during User Account Control prompt on Windows 10

On Windows 10, the User Account Control (UAC) feature works as an additional security layer to prevent malicious code from running undetected on your device. If the feature is enabled (by default it is), when an app requires administrator access, Windows 10 will display an elevation prompt requesting the user to approve or deny the action.

Depending on your settings, you probably noticed that when an app requires elevation, the user desktop dims to display the UAC prompt, and then you're temporarily blocked from the desktop until an administrator allows or denies the request, which is a mechanism that Microsoft calls "secure desktop."

If you're noticing that dimming is taking a significant amount of time, or you prefer to retain an interactive desktop, you can disable the dimmed secure desktop using the User Account Control settings, Local Group Policy Editor, or Registry.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to allow access to the desktop and any of the applications you may be running during a User Account Control prompt.

How to disable secure desktop for UAC using Control Panel

If you want to be able to interact with the desktop when you get a User Account Control prompt, you can use the following steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Click on System and Security.
  3. Click the Change User Account Control settings option.

  1. Adjust the slider to the third position: Notify me only when apps try to make changes to my computer (do not dim my desktop).

  1. Click OK.

After completing the steps, you'll continue to get an elevation prompt request when apps try to make changes to your device, but you'll still be able to interact with the desktop.

You can always reverse the setting by restoring the slider to its previous position.

How to disable secure desktop for UAC using Group Policy

Alternatively, if you're running Windows 10 Pro, you can use the Local Group Policy Editor to disable the dimmed secure desktop behavior using these steps:

  1. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.
  2. Type gpedit.msc and click OK to open the Local Group Policy Editor.
  3. Browse the following path:Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Security Options
  4. On the right side, double-click the User Account Control: Switch to the secure desktop when prompting for elevation policy.

  1. Select the Disabled option.

  1. Click Apply
  2. Click OK.

Once you've completed the steps, when you get a User Account Control prompt, you'll still be able to access the desktop and other apps.

If you want to revert the changes, you can use the same instructions, but on step No. 5, make sure to select the Enabled option.

How to disable secure desktop for UAC using Registry

In the case you're running Windows 10 Home, you won't have access to the Local Group Policy Editor, but you can still disable the dimmed secure desktop behavior on Windows 10 by modifying the Registry.

Warning: This is a friendly reminder that editing the Registry is risky, and it can cause irreversible damage to your installation if you don't do it correctly. It's recommended to make a full backup of your PC before proceeding.

  1. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.
  2. Type regedit, and click OK to open the Registry.
  3. Browse the following path:HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\SystemQuick Tip: On Windows 10, you can now copy and paste the path in the Registry's address bar to quickly jump to the key destination.
  4. Right-click the System (folder) key, select New, and click on Key.

  1. Name the key PromptOnSecureDesktop and press Enter.
  2. Double-click the newly created DWORD and make sure the value is set to 0.

  1. Click OK.

After completing the steps, when trying to run a command, executable, or change settings that requires elevation, you'll get the prompt, but you'll still be able to interact with the desktop.

If you want to go back to the previous settings, you can use the same instructions, but on step No. 6, make sure that the value for PromptOnSecureDesktop is set to 1.

We're focusing this guide on Windows 10, but you can also refer to these instructions to stop the User Account Control experience from dimming your desktop when you get an elevation prompt in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

  • This is a terrible idea, and you suck for writing an article that implies that it's something that's okay to do. The desktop dims and becomes non-interactive during a UAC prompt because it switches to the secure desktop. The secure desktop is non-scriptable, meaning malicious apps can't look for UAC prompts and click "Yes" for you. You have to approve or deny them manually yourself, which is a good thing. If you turn that off, you may as well just turn off UAC entirely (please don't do this), because you're no longer secure. Worse, you *think* you're secure, even though you're actually not.
  • Totally agree with this, the secure desktop is there for a valid reason
  • Absolutely. I came here to make a similar comment. This writer needs to rewrite this article with an explanation of why this is a horrible idea.
  • I concur.
  • Maybe I'm naïve, but isn't choice a wonderful option for those who wish to use it? Sure, it's helpful to let people know ramifications, but again...choice is a wonderful thing.
  • Choice is fine, if you understand the choice. "Is UAC slowing you down and taking too much time to dim your desktop? Try turning off the secure desktop!" is bad. "Turning off the secure desktop is a bad idea, because it opens you to scripted attacks. But if you have a legitimate reason to do so and have thought through the ramifications and understand what you're losing by doing this, here's how you do it," is less bad. The article is written as the former.
  • I completely agree that turning this off is a bad thing. Windows 10 is one of the most secure OS's MS has ever made. These articles that provide information on how to turn off the security features that make it secure are horrible unless they clearly state that turning off the security features will put you in a more vulnerable state. Yes functionality is a security feature because if a user is to greatly inconvenienced then they will try to circumvent the security feature that is protecting them. MS knows this since it is one of their four pillars of a secure modern enterprise (and yes it carries over to the consumer side). MS creates these security features with that mentality so to turn off a security feature without a valid reason is not something that should be taken lightly. I would think a site that is dedicated to MS products would understand why configures their operating systems the way they do.
  • I agree with this.
    Vista had UAC wrong, but it was far better with Windows 7 and then over the years have got better again. UAC do not prompt that often, so I do not see the problem with leaving it alone.
  • If you need to do this because the UAC Window is taking a long time to come up... you may want to get your PC fixed. I agree with everyone else. This isn't a good idea. To each their own, but as a security professional, I would strongly recommend against this.
  • Exactly. There's something wrong if it takes ages to appear. That or your hard drive is mega-super-not-ninja-slow.
  • Others have basically expressed exactly what I was about to write. DO NOT lower UAC. In fact, on every single computer you own, raise it to the max. if you want to be extra super safe you'd also have two accounts: One full admin (That you don't run as) and one standard user. When you want to do something scary you'll be prompted for the user/pass. kind of like how macs run.