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How to customize a default user profile in Windows 7 before capturing Image for Operating System Deployment

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In this Article we introduce the new method to configure the default user profile using Automated profile copy with sysprep rather than the old ways such as the manual copy of a configured profile to default user profile

Old method is a traditional solution and it’s not recommended and not supported any more, it was to configure windows account with the required setting, and then copy user profile for this this account to default user profile.

It's important to know that we may have some problems with this procedure, it’s very old solution (From Windows NT), and this process will copy settings that should not copy to the default user profile.

Also Default user profile contains some run actions that occur when user log on for first time, if you overwrite the default user profile, those run actions will not run.

The New approach we show below is the supported and recommended method by Microsoft.


 The following steps describe how to customize default user profiles in Windows 7:

1- Log on to Windows 7 machine using local or administrator account (Don’t use domain admin account).

2- Configure Windows setting that you required (Desktop Settings, Favorite and start menu options).

3- Create “Unattend.xml” file that contains the Copy Profile parameter, by using Windows System Image Manager tool:

- The Windows System Image Manager tool is included as part of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK).
- Windows AIK is available and installed with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, if you don't have configuration Manager Server, you can installed it on specific machine and create an answer file.

    * Open Windows System Image Manager.
    * Click File menu than choose create a new answer file.
    * Browse Windows source directory form Windows 7 DVD, the catalog file in \Sources folder.
    * The new answer file appears in the Answer File pane.
    * Add the following component to an answer file in the specialize pass.


 Select Component

    *In the settings set Copy profile to true.

 Set Copy Profile to True
    * Save unattend.xml file

These settings will copy profile of the user who is currently logged to default user profile, during sysprep

To run Sysprep, please open command prompt and run it as administrator and run the following command:

sysprep.exe /oobe /reboot /generalize /unattend:c:\answerfile\unattend.xml

Note: Sysprep.exe is located in the %systemdrive%\Windows\System32\sysprep directory.


Abduljalil Abolzahab
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Expert Comment

I have run through this scenario two times now, on two different laptops.

Both times this stopped my laptops working and they went into permanent re-boot, safemode failed, last good config etc.  I had to re-load both laptops from scratch.

I have spent 4 days getting no where.  Have you forgotten a step.?  Have you actually tested this scenario.?

LVL 14

Author Comment

by:Abduljalil Abou Alzahab
Yes 4 sure I test it. I'm using it when I'm preparing master image for Windows 7, most of Windows 7 deployment projects that I did, according to the above step, if you need any help from my side please send more details and exact error message you received when you couldn't boot your laptop.

by the way, the above steps are recommended by Microsoft if you want to copy profile to default user profile.

Thanks for comment

Expert Comment

Thank You.  I think I have found part of my problem.  We receive laptops and PC's pre-loaded with Windows 7 etc.  That means we do not get a Windows 7 DVD with our pre-loaded machine.

I attempted the first time to use the image.wmi from our only copy of Windows 7 Professional on DVD, but it was a 32 bit version and the new machines we are now getting are 64 bit.  Would I be correct in thinking that using the 32 bit Windows 7 image.wmi file cause the problem the first time I tried to follow your scenario?

Secondly, I found a way to combine the SWF files that were in the recovery partition of my PC and created an image.wim file.  So I used that for the second answer file on another laptop which also gave errors.

So, is there somewhere I can get a copy of the Windows 7 Professional 64bit image.wim file?  Or will I really have to purchase a full OEM copy of Windows 7 Professional 64bit to get this to work?  
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Expert Comment

In your document you mention browsing the Windows 7 DVD and finding the "catalog file" in the \sources directory.  What exactly is the "catalogue" file?
LVL 14

Author Comment

by:Abduljalil Abou Alzahab
The catalog files are in the \Sources folder (.clg)

Expert Comment

this didnt work for me, however in the In the settings set Copy profile to true.

i have made other changes such as languange will this have any effect?
I am attaching the error:

I am runing Win7ProX64, one thing i have noticed that my win shell set up have version: 6.1.7601.17514

if i say ok my laptops keeps rebooting

many thanks in advance

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