How To Detect If The Command Prompt Is Running Elevated

As I was setting up my Console2 shell tabs I was curious if running Console2 as an administrator would transfer the elevated privileges token to the tabs as well.

Turns out detecting this was not as straightforward as I thought it would be!


If you need to know how to detect if the command prompt is running elevated (or your script) use the following command:

whoami /groups
If the output contains these lines the process is running elevated:
Mandatory Label\High Mandatory Level Label            S-1-16-12288
                    Mandatory group, Enabled by default, Enabled group

The Long Answer

With the addition of User Account Control to Windows Vista the platform gained integrity levels – an integrity level indicates how much an application can be trusted to perform  actions on the system, e.g. accessing files or the registry and interacting with other processes. By adding this additional security feature to the OS it now has another indicator to help isolate (sandbox) programs and prevent them from going rogue on your system. Very cool!

The following integrity levels are supported:

  • Untrusted – processes that are logged on anonymously are automatically designated as Untrusted
  • Low – The Low integrity level is the level used by default for interaction with the Internet. As long as Internet Explorer is run in its default state, Protected Mode, all files and processes associated with it are assigned the Low integrity level. Some folders, such as the Temporary Internet Folder, are also assigned the Low integrity level by default.
  • Medium – Medium is the context that most objects will run in. Standard users receive the Medium integrity level, and any object not explicitly designated with a lower or higher integrity level is Medium by default.
  • High – Administrators are granted the High integrity level. This ensures that Administrators are capable of interacting with and modifying objects assigned Medium or Low integrity levels, but can also act on other objects with a High integrity level, which standard users can not do.
  • System – As the name implies, the System integrity level is reserved for the system. The Windows kernel and core services are granted the System integrity level. Being even higher than the High integrity level of Administrators protects these core functions from being affected or compromised even by Administrators.
  • Installer – The Installer integrity level is a special case and is the highest of all integrity levels. By virtue of being equal to or higher than all other WIC integrity levels, objects assigned the Installer integrity level are also able to uninstall all other objects.


For more info see the Windows Integrity Mechanism Design.

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