Run a command as a different user in Powershell

There are three main ways to run a command as a different user in Powershell, besides the classing Right click shift. This article will show you how to do that, within the same Powershell session.
By the same Powershell session, I mean something like this:

  • You’re logged on as ITDroplets\UserA.
  • You have a powershell script/console running as UserA.
  • Within that powershell script/console, you want to run a command as ITDroplets\UserB.

In the Options below, I will consider the above example and I will run “Get-Process Explorer” as UserB. This is very handy when running elevated commands, for instance when UserA is a standard user account and UserB has local admin rights. Of course, Get-Process Explorer doesn’t really need elevation ­čÖé
Remember that the examples are super concentrated, which means I didn’t add any check to see if the command ran successfully etc. They’re there as pure examples, you can then shape them to fit your needs.

Option 1 –┬áSystem.Diagnostics.ProcessStartInfo

Option 1 is the one that seems to be working better than others. It’s similar to Option 2 as it also starts a new process, but handles the output way better than Option 2. It basically starts a new process as UserB and then grab the output, stored in $GetProcessResult. The comments should explain everything on what the script is doing.

Option 2 – Start-Process

Very similar to Option 1, this way to┬árun a command as a different user in Powershell has one flow: it’s not possible to grab the output from Start-Process, unless it’s redirected to a file! So that means we need to store the output somewhere and then grab it back. Thankfully, the file is created as UserA, which means we can target UserA’s %temp% folder to store it.┬á The above script will also delete it afterwards and at the beginning of it, should the file already exist for some reason.

Option 3 – Start-Job

This one’s my favorite to run a command as a different user in Powershell, however it does have an issue and you may receive the error below in case you’ve got a mapped drive on UserA’s profile: An error occurred while starting the background process. Error reported: The directory name is invalid.

So, there are a couple of ways to fix this but unfortunately, I don’t like them and I don’t think the’re good solutions.

Solution 1

The first solution would be changin the “Start In” setting in the Powershell shortcut (in Windows 10 it’s located here: %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Windows PowerShell). You must change %HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH% to something like %WinDir% for example. If you don’t want o edit the original shortcut, you can just clone it and edit the cloned one.

Once done, you can just double click on it as UserA and you should be good. This won’t require admin rights, but it requires a restart of the console if you have it opened!

Solution 2

This one is a bit of an overkill if you ask me and it does require UserA to have local admin rights, or at least write access to %windir%\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0. So basically you want to create a file named profile.ps1 and add something like this in it: Set-Location -Path $($env:windir)
This has to be done before running the script as UserB so that when the script tries to start the job as a different user, it’ll be able to launch the script as it’ll load the right location. If you want to script this, I would do something like this:

So basically, the script checks if the file already exists, if it does, it renames it, creates a new one which includes $ProfilePS1’s content, finally runs Option 3’s script, deletes profile.ps1 and reverts back to the old one (if existed). If UAC is enabled, you must make sure you’re running this as Administrator!

Unfortunately, using Set-Location in the current session before hand, won’t work.

2 thoughts on “Run a command as a different user in Powershell

  1. Hi, I have a problem here it is.

    I want to use following command: manage-bde -status. I want a script that opens PowerShell as admin an shows the result.
    If I open up a normal PS window, the command won’t work because it needs admin right and gives me this message:

    “BitLocker Drive Encryption: Configuration Tool version 10.
    Copyright (C) 2013 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reser

    ERROR: An attempt to access a required resource was denied

    Check that you have administrative rights on the computer.”
    If I right-click on PS and choose the option Run as Administrator everything works fine:

    PS C:\windows\system32> manage-bde -status
    BitLocker Drive Encryption: Configuration T
    Copyright (C) 2013 Microsoft Corporation. A

    Disk volumes that can be protected with
    BitLocker Drive Encryption:
    Volume C: [Windows]
    [OS Volume]

    Size: 228.10 GB
    BitLocker Version: 2.0
    Conversion Status: Used Space Only E
    Percentage Encrypted: 100.0%
    Encryption Method: XTS-AES 256
    Protection Status: Protection On
    Lock Status: Unlocked
    Identification Field: ADP272
    Key Protectors:
    Numerical Password
    Numerical Password
    I did a script containing only the following command:

    Start-Process -FilePath “powershell.exe” -verb RunAs -ArgumentList “manage-bde -status” -WorkingDirectory $env:windir

    I get the error :
    The term ‘manage-bde’ is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet, function, script file, or operable program. Check the spelling of the name, or if a path was included, verify that the path is correct and try again.

    I want to lauch my script as an admin automatically. I dont want to run power manually as admin and then call my script.

    I also made sure the script was running under domain admin that also has local admin over every computer by adding the command “whoiam” to my script.

    Any idea why when I use start-process -verb RunAs it opens the script as admin but does not recognize the command manage-bde. Every other commands work but this one.



    1. Hi Alex,
      I just tested this and it works for me.. This may be a long shot, but try Start-Process powershell.exe -verb RunAs -ArgumentList "c:\windows\system32\manage-bde.exe -status". Also check with Start-Process powershell.exe -verb RunAs -ArgumentList "c:\windows\sysnative\manage-bde.exe -status".

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