Saturday, October 21, 2023

Running Windows Applications as a Different User using System Internals ShellRunas

Using the runas command from a Windows console windows was demonstrated in the post,  Access SQL Server Management Studio using a different Active Directory Credential. The concept was that a user was logged in to Windows and an application (SQL Server Management Studio e.g. ssms.exe) needed to be run as a different user (hence the use of runas).

The much vaunted Windows Sysinternals was acquired by Microsoft in 2006 and among the useful utilities produced by Sysinternals is ShellRunas. As the previous documentation link shows:

Install ShellRunas Shell Extension

ShellRunas can be downloaded and zipped from Download ShellRunas. The download, contains an executable ShellRunas.exe. To install ShellRunas as as a Windows shell extension, run the following from a Windows console terminal in the folder containing ShellRunas.exe:

.\ShellRunas.exe /reg

Invoking ShellRunas as shown above displays a dialog indicating the shell extension has been added;

Running ShellRunas from Explorer

To demonstrated on Windows 11 how to use ShellRunas navigate in Windows Explorer to the folder of the application (such as ssms.exe): 

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 19\Common7\IDE

From Windows Explorer right click on the application (such as ssms.exe) which displays a context menu such as the following:

The bottom option of the context menu is "Show more options." Select this menu item which displays the following context, sub menu:

From the above context menu select "Run as different user" which display the following dialog courtesy of Sysinternals ShellRunas:

The above dialog can be used run an application as a user that differs from the currently logged in Windows user.

Why Such Complicated Navigation?

ShellRunas dates back to February 26, 2008 and the era of WidnowsVista, Windows Server 2008, and President George Bush.  The example shell context menu shown at the top of this post is from Microsoft's ShellRunas documentation and is as follows:

The above context menu dialog box were displayed when right click on an executable that was run on Windows days of yore sometime a.k.a. some version before Windows 11.

ShellRunas used to be convenient. As of modern versions of Windows, ShellRunas is a handy utility with navigation that is a bit too complex.


Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Access SQL Server Management Studio using a different Active Directory Credential

There is no way to change the "User name" in SQL Server Management Studio's "Connect to Server" dialog when using Windows Authentication. This post demonstrates how to run SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) and authenticate a connection using a different user than the current active Windows user while authenticating with Windows Authentication. For example, a user logs in with the normal account but needs to authenticate with an administrative account to access SQL Server.

An example of SSMS's "Connect to Server" dialog authenticating a connection with Windows Authentication is as follows:

The "User name" dropdown above is grayed out as it cannot be changed because Authentication is set to Windows Authentication. The Windows runas command-line utility (see Runas) can be used to run SSMS or any application as a different user than the user currently logged into a host. For this example, considering desiring to login as:

  • domain: domaidAbc
  • user: userEfg

To run SQL Server Management Studio as user domainAbc\userEfg, specify the following from a console prompt:

runas /noprofile /netonly /user:domainAbc\userEfg "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 19\Common7\IDE\ssms.exe"

Once the above command is run, the user will be prompted to enter a password for account domainAbc\userEfg:

Enter the password for domainAbc\userEfg:

There is no way to specify the password as a runas command-line option so the password must be manually entered.

The following is all the text displayed when running SSMS as a different user via the runas command:

C:\>runas /noprofile /netonly /user:domainAbc\userEfg "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 19\Common7\IDE\ssms.exe"
Enter the password for domainAbc\userEfg:
Attempting to start C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 19\Common7\IDE\ssms.exe as user "domainAbc\userEfg" ...

At this point SSMS is running as user domainAbc\userEfg. There is a bit of a twist. Here is an example of the "Connect to Server" dialog displayed when running as user domainAbc\userEfg (note the grayed out User name is different,XPS17\jann):

When the Server name is specified and the connection to SQL Server is made, the user used to authenticate is domainAbc\userEfg and not the grayed out user.