How to manage the local administrators group on Azure AD joined devices

To manage a Windows device, you need to be a member of the local administrators group. As part of the Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) join process, Azure AD updates the membership of this group on a device. You can customize the membership update to satisfy your business requirements. A membership update is, for example, helpful if you want to enable your helpdesk staff to do tasks requiring administrator rights on a device.

This article explains how the membership update works and how you can customize it during an Azure AD Join. The content of this article doesn't apply to a hybrid Azure AD join.

How it works

When you connect a Windows device with Azure AD using an Azure AD join, Azure AD adds the following security principles to the local administrators group on the device:

  • The Azure AD global administrator role
  • The Azure AD device administrator role
  • The user performing the Azure AD join

By adding Azure AD roles to the local administrators group, you can update the users that can manage a device anytime in Azure AD without modifying anything on the device. Currently, you cannot assign groups to an administrator role. Azure AD also adds the Azure AD device administrator role to the local administrators group to support the principle of least privilege (PoLP). In addition to the global administrators, you can also enable users that have been only assigned the device administrator role to manage a device.

Manage the global administrators role

To view and update the membership of the global administrator role, see:

Manage the device administrator role

In the Azure portal, you can manage the device administrator role on the Devices page. To open the Devices page:

  1. Sign in to your Azure portal as a global administrator or device administrator.
  2. On the left navbar, click Azure Active Directory.
  3. In the Manage section, click Devices.
  4. On the Devices page, click Device settings.

To modify the device administrator role, configure Additional local administrators on Azure AD joined devices.

Additional local administrators

Note

This option requires an Azure AD Premium tenant.

Device administrators are assigned to all Azure AD joined devices. You cannot scope device administrators to a specific set of devices. Updating the device administrator role doesn't necessarily have an immediate impact on the affected users. For the devices, a user is already signed into, the privilege update takes place:

  • When a user signs off.
  • After 4 hours, when a new Primary Refresh Token is issued.

Manage regular users

By default, Azure AD adds the user performing the Azure AD join to the administrator group on the device. If you want to prevent regular users from becoming local administrators, you have the following options:

  • Windows Autopilot - Windows Autopilot provides you with an option to prevent primary user performing the join from becoming a local administrator. You can accomplish this by creating an Autopilot profile.

  • Bulk enrollment - An Azure AD join that is performed in the context of a bulk enrollment happens in the context of an auto-created user. Users signing in after a device has been joined are not added to the administrators group.

Manually elevate a user on a device

In addition to using the Azure AD join process, you can also manually elevate a regular user to become a local administrator on one specific device. This step requires you to already be a member of the local administrators group.

Starting with the Windows 10 1709 release, you can do perform this task from Settings -> Accounts -> Other users. Select Add a work or school user, enter the user's UPN under User account and select Administrator under Account type

Additionally, you can also add users using the command prompt:

  • If your tenant users are synchronized from on-premises Active Directory, use net localgroup administrators /add "Contoso\username".

  • If your tenant users are created in Azure AD, use net localgroup administrators /add "AzureAD\UserUpn"

Considerations

You cannot assign groups to the device administrator role, only individual users are allowed.

Device administrators are assigned to all Azure AD Joined devices. They can't be scoped to a specific set of devices.

When you remove users from the device administrator role, they still have the local administrator privilege on a device as long as they are signed in to it. The privilege is revoked during the next sign-in, or after 4 hours when a new primary refresh token is issued.

Next steps