Vista UAC Prevents Print Screen

Security AdvisoryI was just starting to write a bit about the User Account Control (UAC) feature of Vista. I wanted to show an example of how it dims the screen and shows a prompt when you do certain things, like trying to run a .reg file. To my suprise, I wasn’t able to capture a UAC dialog box (running Vista RC2), the Prnt Scrn key seems to be unusable while the screen is dimmed. Go ahead, give it a try, and if you find a way around it, let me know here by leaving a comment!

43 Replies to “Vista UAC Prevents Print Screen”

  1. Use your Digital Camera for screen shots. A good way to capture BIOS screen also when ALT-Print Scrn is not available. Worked for me, when I had to create documentation thin client hardware setup.

  2. Ah, this is an easy one.


    1) gpedit.msc
    2) Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\SecurityOptions.
    3) Change “User Account Control: Switch to the secure desktop when prompting for elevation” to disabled.

  3. Robin, not a bad alternative for situations like this, it’s just a shame not to be able to capture a pixel perfect image when it’s on your screen.
    Thanks Jerry, I continued with researching UAC and did stumble across the switch you mention. I guess ‘secure desktop’ explains why Prnt Scrn doesn’t work. Not sure I want to deminish the security UAC provides, perhaps just turning it off at those times you need to do a screen capture, and then turning it back on afterwards is the best compromise.

  4. (Ah, this is an easy one.


    i hate it when people say simple. theres nothing simple about windows , ever!!
    i have vista premium and have tried gpedit.msc
    and it doesnt work , it doesnt even recongize it.
    so i went on my mates pc and did the same typed gpedit.msc in the search bar and again only groupuser came up wich leads nowhere.
    so please , keep ur “SIMPLE” your self. because vista is far from being simple , annoying and frustrating are better words to use.

  5. If gpedit.msc doesn’t work for you, try secpol.msc. It’s under Local Policies -> Security Options. In gpedit.msc, it’s under Computer/User Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> Local Policies -> Security Options.

    Hope this helps!

  6. I found it to be quite “SIMPLE” but then I find Windows pretty straight forward.

    Thanks Jerry for the tip. Worked like a charm and gave us the ability to grab some important screen shots in our QA Lab.


  7. I’d say this stuff is NOT simple.
    none of the directories shown in any of the above comments are on my machine. I have Vista Home Premium.
    gpedit.msc does not seem to exist.
    secpol.msc does not seem to exist.
    there is no “computer/user configuration” directory.
    There is no “local policies” directory.

    How are you supposed to access this stuff?
    There is no

  8. I don’t have the time to look this up now but there’s a secpol.msc package for Vista Home/Premium users — basically it is all the secpol files (msc, dlls, configs, etc.) that you need to copy to specific folders on your machine. After all is done, you’ll get secpol on your vista home machine. Try googling for that. Thanks!


  9. in vista, go to (1) control panel; (2) user accounts; and (3) in the left pane at the bottom it says “turn user account controls on or off”; click on that link and take the check mark out of the box to turn UAC off. easy enough now.

  10. in Vista , in start menu (search area )type snipping tool , then click on it and capture the image with your cursor

    This is SIMPLE

  11. Nouhad,

    Not quite that simple. If a UAC dialog appear, the Snipping Tool is unavailabe as is the Start Menu. To see this, right click on any desktop icon and choose Run As Administrator. When the prompt comes up asking you to continue, try to access the Snipping Tool.

    If I am missing a way around this please let me know.


  12. Don’t use a camera to capture screen, the quality is horrible.
    Use virtualization softwares (ex: VMWare, VirtualPC, VirtualBOX…), than you’ll be able to capture any hi-quality screenshot of your guest OS.

  13. It works for me.

    Simply hold your function key and push print screen and paste in paint….

    not that hard ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. None of these work for me. I have no FN key. Print Screen does nothing, either with Ctrl, Alt, Shift, nothing. Turning off UAC did nothing, and yes, I restarted, numerous times. Snippit is worthless, I despise it. I’d rather use a camera. I desperately need Print Screen like I had with XP. Will changing keyboards have any effect? If so, how will I know the new one will work any better?

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