How to check if the current user is an Administrator (even if UAC is on)

There may be a scenario where you want to determine from code if the current user is an Administrator.

One example of this which I have had to deal with is checking for software updates.

Say your application contacts a service to see if there is a newer version of the application available; if so, you can download and run the installer.

Imagine that the installer requires admin privileges; you don’t want to run the installer if the current user does not have administrative privileges.

So how can we check if the user is an admin or not?

In VB6, C++ etc

There is a Windows API function you can use very easily to see if the current user is an admin: IsUserAnAdmin.

BOOL IsUserAnAdmin(void);

Visual Basic 6 Declaration

Private Declare Function IsUserAnAdmin Lib “Shell32″ Alias “#680″ () As Integer

While you can still use this, it is actually deprecated, and the documentation recommends you call the CheckTokenMembership function instead (which IsUserAnAdmin is a wrapper for).



using System;
using System.Security.Principal;

var identity = WindowsIdentity.GetCurrent();
if (identity == null) throw new InvalidOperationException("Couldn't get the current user identity");
var principal = new WindowsPrincipal(identity);
return principal.IsInRole(WindowsBuiltInRole.Administrator);

User Account Control (UAC)

A problem arises when you use any of the above code on a machine that has UAC enabled, and the process is not elevated.

While the user may be an administrator, when the process is not elevated yet, the user has a split token – which doesn’t have the administrator privileges.

A way around this is to use the GetTokenInformation API call to inspect the token to see if it’s a split token. In most cases this will mean that UAC is on and the current user is an administrator.

This is not 100% reliable (see References) but it’s probably the best we can do for now.


This code is slightly easier in .NET, as there’s already a fair amount of code we don’t have to write to get the current process’s token.

First, we’ll need some code to support the GetTokenInformation API call:

[DllImport("advapi32.dll", SetLastError = true)]
static extern bool GetTokenInformation(IntPtr tokenHandle, TokenInformationClass tokenInformationClass, IntPtr tokenInformation, int tokenInformationLength, out int returnLength);

/// <summary>
/// Passed to <see cref="GetTokenInformation"/> to specify what
/// information about the token to return.
/// </summary>
enum TokenInformationClass
     TokenUser = 1,

/// <summary>
/// The elevation type for a user token.
/// </summary>
enum TokenElevationType
    TokenElevationTypeDefault = 1,

Then, the actual code to detect if the user is an Administrator (returning true if they are, otherwise false).

var identity = WindowsIdentity.GetCurrent();
if (identity == null) throw new InvalidOperationException("Couldn't get the current user identity");
var principal = new WindowsPrincipal(identity);

// Check if this user has the Administrator role. If they do, return immediately.
// If UAC is on, and the process is not elevated, then this will actually return false.
if (principal.IsInRole(WindowsBuiltInRole.Administrator)) return true;

// If we're not running in Vista onwards, we don't have to worry about checking for UAC.
if (Environment.OSVersion.Platform != PlatformID.Win32NT || Environment.OSVersion.Version.Major < 6)
     // Operating system does not support UAC; skipping elevation check.
     return false;

int tokenInfLength = Marshal.SizeOf(typeof(int));
IntPtr tokenInformation = Marshal.AllocHGlobal(tokenInfLength);

    var token = identity.Token;
    var result = GetTokenInformation(token, TokenInformationClass.TokenElevationType, tokenInformation, tokenInfLength, out tokenInfLength);

    if (!result)
        var exception = Marshal.GetExceptionForHR( Marshal.GetHRForLastWin32Error() );
        throw new InvalidOperationException("Couldn't get token information", exception);

    var elevationType = (TokenElevationType)Marshal.ReadInt32(tokenInformation);
    switch (elevationType)
        case TokenElevationType.TokenElevationTypeDefault:
            // TokenElevationTypeDefault - User is not using a split token, so they cannot elevate.
            return false;
        case TokenElevationType.TokenElevationTypeFull:
            // TokenElevationTypeFull - User has a split token, and the process is running elevated. Assuming they're an administrator.
            return true;
        case TokenElevationType.TokenElevationTypeLimited:
            // TokenElevationTypeLimited - User has a split token, but the process is not running elevated. Assuming they're an administrator.
            return true;
            // Unknown token elevation type.
            return false;
    if (tokenInformation != IntPtr.Zero) Marshal.FreeHGlobal(tokenInformation);

Visual Basic 6 (VB6)

For Visual Basic 6, there’s some additional code, as we need to get the token for the current process, and use more calls to also get the operating system version.


dwOSVersionInfoSize As Long

dwMajorVersion As Long

dwMinorVersion As Long

dwBuildNumber As Long

dwPlatformId As Long

szCSDVersion As String * 128

End Type

‘ dwPlatformId values

Public Const VER_PLATFORM_WIN32s = 0


Public Const VER_PLATFORM_WIN32_NT = 2

Public Declare Function GetVersionEx Lib “kernel32″ Alias “GetVersionExA” (ByRef lpVersionInformation As OSVERSIONINFO) As Long

‘ These functions are for getting the process token information, which IsUserAnAdministrator uses to

‘ handle detecting an administrator that’s running in a non-elevated process under UAC.

Private Const TOKEN_READ As Long = &H20008

Private Const TOKEN_ELEVATION_TYPE As Long = 18

Private Declare Function IsUserAnAdmin Lib “Shell32″ Alias “#680″ () As Integer

Private Declare Function CloseHandle Lib “kernel32″ (ByVal hObject As Long) As Long

Private Declare Function OpenProcessToken Lib “advapi32.dll” (ByVal ProcessHandle As Long, ByVal DesiredAccess As Long, TokenHandle As Long) As Long

Private Declare Function GetTokenInformation Lib “advapi32.dll” (ByVal TokenHandle As Long, ByVal TokenInformationClass As Long, TokenInformation As Any,_ ByVal TokenInformationLength As Long, ReturnLength As Long) As Long

Public Function IsUserAnAdministrator() As Boolean

On Error GoTo IsUserAnAdministratorError

IsUserAnAdministrator = False

If IsUserAnAdmin() Then

IsUserAnAdministrator = True

Exit Function

End If

‘ If we’re on Vista onwards, check for UAC elevation token

‘ as we may be an admin but we’re not elevated yet, so the

‘ IsUserAnAdmin() function will return false


osVersion.dwOSVersionInfoSize = Len(osVersion)

If GetVersionEx(osVersion) = 0 Then

Exit Function

End If

If osVersion.dwPlatformId <> VER_PLATFORM_WIN32_NT Or osVersion.dwMajorVersion < 6 Then

‘ If the user is not on Vista or greater, then there’s no UAC, so don’t bother checking.

Exit Function

End If

Dim result As Long

Dim hProcessID As Long

Dim hToken As Long

Dim lReturnLength As Long

Dim tokenElevationType As Long

‘ We need to get the token for the current process

hProcessID = GetCurrentProcess()

If hProcessID <> 0 Then

If OpenProcessToken(hProcessID, TOKEN_READ, hToken) = 1 Then

result = GetTokenInformation(hToken, TOKEN_ELEVATION_TYPE, tokenElevationType, 4, lReturnLength)

If result = 0 Then

‘ Couldn’t get token information

Exit Function

End If

If tokenElevationType <> 1 Then

IsUserAnAdministrator = True

End If

CloseHandle hToken

End If

CloseHandle hProcessID

End If

Exit Function


‘ Handle errors

End Function


Blog Post by Chris Jackson: How to Determine if a User is a Member of the Administrators Group with UAC Enabled on Windows Vista

4 thoughts on “How to check if the current user is an Administrator (even if UAC is on)

  1. Hila

    Hi David,
    i would like to ask what is the license of this artical “”
    under which terms we can use it?

      1. Hila

        Hi David,
        thank you for posting this article :-)
        sorry for bothering you, however our legal department would like to know exactly what you mean by “This is free to use for commercial or non-commercial use”.
        Are you placing it in the public domain? If not do you want to release under some license?


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