Fix Task Manager Has Been Disabled By Your Administrator

In addition to disabling registry editing, various Windows malware often disables Windows Task Manager, for the purpose of hindering experienced user's ability to detect it in the list of running programs and kick it out of the system.

This article explains how to fix task manager has been disabled by administrator error message. Enable Task Manager in Windows back again, restore ability to run Windows Task Manager.

Contents

1. Symptoms of the problem

When starting Windows Task Manager an error message like this appears:

Task Manager has been disabled by your administator; as it appears in Windows 7 and Vista
(in Windows 7 and Vista)

Task Manager has been disabled by your administator; as it appears in Windows XP
(in Windows XP)

It may also appear in localized form in non-English versions of Windows.

2. True reason why are you getting Task Manager Has Been Disabled By Your Administrator error

Usually taskmgr.exe is disabled by malware (virus, trojan, spyware or something like that). Malware runs in memory as ordinary process, and it can be killed from Task Manager. So, malware cuts off user access to Task Manager, in order to survive.

Even after malware is removed by antivirus, user access to Task Manager may still remain disabled.

This article explains how to enable it back.

3. How to fix Task Manager Has Been Disabled By Your Administrator error

Emergency Boot CD is a powerful toolset to fix unbootable computers and recover data from them. One of EBCD tools is an offline Registry Editor, which can make changes to the Windows Registry from the outside of Windows.

Using EBCD Registry Editor, you'll be able to change DisableTaskMgr value to 0 in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System, so enable Task Manager in Windows.

4. Step by step guide of using EBCD to enable Task Manager in Windows

1) Download EBCD and burn it to CD/DVD according to the instructions, then set up your BIOS to boot from CD. You need full EBCD version to actually write changes to the disk, but it's recommended to try demo version first to make sure  there are no hardware incompatibilities.

2) Boot from EBCD, wait until the main menu appears.
Choose "Registry Editor" in the main menu or press F4

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Main Menu
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Main Menu

3) Wait while EBCD scans all local disks for Windows installations

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Wait for Scan
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Wait for Scan

4) Choose your Windows installation from the list
    (you may ignore "Boot Partition" which is sometimes shown if Windows 7 is installed).
    Use your mouse or UP, DOWN and ENTER keys on the keyboard to make a choice.

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Choose Windows installation
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Choose Windows installation

5) Choose Registry Hive you want to edit (HKEY_USERS\User), where User is your default username in Windows.
    Use your mouse or UP, DOWN and ENTER keys on the keyboard to make a choice.

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Choose Registry Hive to edit
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Choose Registry Hive to edit

6) EBCD Registry Editor appears, as shown below:

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - EBCD registry editor
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - EBCD registry editor

7) Navigate to Software registry key with your mouse or UP, DOWN and ENTER keys on the keyboard:

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software

8) Navigate to Microsoft registry key:

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft

9) Navigate to Windows registry key:

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows

10) Navigate to CurrentVersion registry key:

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion

11) Navigate to Policies registry key:

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies

12) Navigate to System registry key:

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

13) Enter that key and press TAB to switch to the right panel (you may also click it with a mouse):

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Registry editor changing value
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Registry editor changing value

14) Find the value DisableTaskMgr of type REG_DWORD and navigate to its Data.
      Use your mouse or UP/DOWN keys on the keyboard.

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - REG_DWORD value of DisableTaskMgr
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - REG_DWORD value of DisableTaskMgr

15) Go to the black (editable) area with RIGHT/LEFT keys on the keyboard and press DEL key to clear the data:

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Clear DisableTaskMgr=1
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Clear DisableTaskMgr=1

16) Press 0 key (zero key) on the keyboard to enter the new data:
      Make sure the screen looks like below and then press F2 and F10 to save registry hive to the disk end exit
      (demo version will say it's not able to write to the fixed disk at this point).

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Set DisableTaskMgr=0
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Set DisableTaskMgr=0

17) Finally, in the main menu of EBCD, choose "Reboot" or press F10:

Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Done
Fix Task Manager Disabled with EBCD - Done

5. Questions & answers

Q: Where is HKEY_CURRENT_USER?
A: There is no "current user" logged in, because you are outside of Windows. Choose one of existing users and his/her registry hive is called HKEY_USERS\Username

Q: What if there are multiple users with disabled taskmgr.exe?
A: Then you need to repeat the recipe from this article multiple times, once for each user.

Q: I've set DisableBootMgr=0 in HKEY_USERS\...\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System but taskmgr.exe still gives me the same error message "Task Manager has been disabled by your administrator".
A: Task Manager may be also disabled via Group Policy; in order to override it, go to HKEY_USERS\...\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Group Policy Objects\LocalUser\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System registry key and set REG_DWORD value of DisableTaskMgr to 0. If some of the keys along the path does not exist, then you may create that key(s) using F7.

Q: Can I use EBCD registry editor to change other keys and values not mentioned in this acticle?
A: Yes, EBCD registry editor has no limitations and can edit any key or value in any registry hive. Changes are held in memory until you press F2. Registry hives are strictly validated after being loaded from disk and before being written to disk, so it's a solid and safe tool to use in everyday sysadmin's work.