What is a “Select Administrator”? Is that some special elite kind of administrator?

Raymond Chen

A customer wanted to know why, when they opened a command prompt, the title was “Select Administrator”.

Select Administrator: C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe
Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7601]
(c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

What is a “Select Administrator”? Is that some special elite kind of administrator?

No, that’s not what “Select Administrator” is saying.

In fact, it’s not even “Select Administrator”.

The clue is the white box in the command prompt window that the customer included in the screen shot.

That white box is evidence that the user clicked in the command prompt window with the mouse and initiated a selection. When a selection is active, the word “Select” is added to the front of the title.

What we really have is two unrelated adornments. One for selection, and another for elevation.

Selection Title
Select Administrator: C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe

The customer noted that they get this “Select Administrator” only when they launch the command prompt a certain way from a specific program. My guess is that the customer is double-clicking something that launches the command prompt on a single click. The command prompt appears after the first click, and the second click goes to the command prompt and triggers the selection.

So the solution is to single-click, not double-click. If you double-click by mistake, you can hit Esc to exit selection mode.


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  • Piotr Siódmak 0

    Yeah, the selection in cmd/powersheell is weird. Or maybe it’s the copy and paste both being on the same button (right mouse button). I’ve seen it many times when someone wants to paste something into cmd/powershell, so they copy the thing, click cmd/powershell to give it focus, right click and nothing, because they selected an empty cell and copied it, so now you have to find the thing again to copy it again. It’s funny until it happens to you 🙂

    • Antonio Rodríguez 0

      It’s not cmd or PowerShell. It’s Windows’ Console Host. From Windows 10 onward, the “quick edit” option is enabled by default. It allows you to select text directly by clicking or dragging with the left mouse button, copy the selection with a right click, or, if there is no selection, paste with the right mouse button. I find it pretty useful, but if it causes you problems, it can be disabled on Windows 10/11 (system menu->Properties->Options tab->uncheck Quick edit mode). And it also can be enabled in previous Windows versions (by checking the same box).

  • Henry Skoglund 1

    Reminds me of the old “Who is General Failure and why is he reading my hard drive?”

    • Mystery Man 0

      He’s the superior officer of Major Malfunction. 😉

      • Masamune3210 0

        A General Protection Fault must be General Failure getting not-alived lol

      • Charles Dye 0

        And Colonel Fault, obviously.

  • Michael Spam 1

    Many times I’ve sat waiting for a command to finish, only to find I’d accidently highlighted a space on the screen and the whole console is paused waiting for me to do something with it.
    Often happens when clicking on a window to bring it into focus when it already had focus.

  • Jan Ringoš 0

    Windows 7 SP1? So that’s as far as your backlog still goes? 😉

    Also I was thinking the banner message could use an overhaul. Display full product name, like in winver.exe, and perhaps whoami, e.g. my computer would show:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise N 2016 LTSB [Version 10.0.14393.5427]
    (c) 2016 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    Administrator: computer.domain.local\JanRingos

  • Krzysztof Kawa 0

    In Polish it says “WybierzAdministrator”, missing the space between words. I wonder if the original English string is “Select “, containing the space at the end, and whatever process of translation it went through trimmed the trailing whitespace, not deeming it important.

    • Raymond ChenMicrosoft employee 1

      Thanks for pointing this out. Looks like an issue with the translation infrastructure. The trailing space got trimmed before being presented for translation, and nobody added the space back after translation. I’ll file a bug.

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