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Windows 7 - customize Default User profile?

garryshape used Ask the Experts™
What's the easiest way to configure the settings for the Default User in Windows 7?
Windows setting such as Power/Screensaver Settings, added printers, etc?
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1# Use the built-in local Administrator account, and log on to Windows.

2# Open the User Accounts control panel, and remove all added user accounts except for the one Administrator-level user account that you used when you logged on.

3# Configure the settings that you want to copy to the default user profile. This includes desktop settings, favorites, and Start menu options.

4# Copy the contents of the admin profile to the default user profile folder
Business Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
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Take a look at this link:  http://www.irongeek.com/i.php?page=security/windows-7-copy-default-profile

Windows 7 does not readily allow you to copy profiles (no longer supported) as they want you to use Sysprep.

Also, I do not recommend enabling the administrator account in Windows 7. It was disabled for very good reason.

... Thinkpads_User
Top Expert 2012

As Thinkpads already said, the method described in the first reply may be well-intentioned, but unfortunately it really doesn't work well on Windows 7 for several reasons.  Here is an excellent article from the TechNet blogs describing the pros & conss in-depth, along with the supported capabilities:

Configuring Default User Settings – Full Update for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2

Top Expert 2012

Some additional perspective from my personal experience...

In the past, our team has created some great Windows 7 images without making any elaborate modifications to the default user profile.  You can easily customize a Windows build by adding applications, installing printer drivers, modifying any local group policies, and copying important shortcuts to the Public user desktop as well as the Default user's Windows Explorer favorites (found in %systemdrive%\Users\Default\Links).  Once you are done with that, run Sysprep and clone it with Ghost or something similar.
Try this:

Customize a user profile as needed
Go to Control Panel and create a new dummy admininstrator
Reboot, log in as the dummy admin
Browse to C: and go into the Folder settings and Show all hidden/system files
Browse to C:\Users and CTRL-drag the Default folder to make a second (backup) copy of it
Browse to C:\Users and CTRL-drag the customized user profile to make a second copy of it
SHIFT-DEL the original Default folder
Rename the customized folder copy to Default
Create a new dummy admin and reboot/log in to test it
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All there is a reason the copy function was disabled in windows 7... You should never copy a profile onto another one.... You could break certain customizations that are there by default. Sys prep is the only supported method to customize the defaultnuser profile....

If there are basic changes to be done, and if they are possible to be done via reg editing, you can load the default ntuser.dat and make the edits and unload the hive that way. Even that is not supported, but you will not break the customizations of the profile that are done by the os....
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Top Expert 2012
Folks, please trust us (a.k.a. Thinkpads, John, and I)!  Microsoft specifically disabled the Copy To... button for several very good reasons!  I know that function seemed to work reasonably well during the Windows XP era, but even then it wasn't officially supported and now, it's safe to say that Windows 7 is a different story.

Take a closer look at the TechNet blog that I referenced above for an eye-opening list of reasons why we should not manually copy the Windows 7 administrator profile to the Default user profile:

The Default User profile contains some single run actions that occur when the user logs in for the first time, which then setup that user by running those custom actions.  If you overwrite the Default User profile, those single run actions do not take place.

The manual profile copy process can cause issues such as:

• Their list of most frequently run programs is not cleared
• Whether the user has been introduced to the Start menu (will be set to TRUE for the source account, but should be FALSE for new users). Windows Explorer does some special things the first time you log on to introduce you to the Start menu and other new features.
• Whether the user is an administrator (and should therefore see the Administrative Tools, etc).
• The personalized name for “My Documents” will be incorrect. All users documents folders will be called “Administrator's Documents”.  This is documented in the Knowledge Base article “The Desktop.ini File Does Not Work Correctly When You Create a Custom Default Profile” (http://support.microsoft.com/?id=321281).
• The default download directory for IE will be set to the Administrator's Desktop folder.
• The default Save and Open locations for some application with point to the Administrator's documents folder.
• Windows 7 Libraries are broken.

Hopefully that helps clarify things a bit.
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Top Expert 2011

Well said...

Please follow my guide below step by step.

1-Downloaded WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit) and installed (Free) On different computer, preferably your tech computer.
2-Install  your laptop/desktop and  first, activate Administrator account (as default its disabled-Right click on Computer icon and manage, local users and groups) and remove the initial admin account the one that you have essentially created at the end of the setup! Now you logged in Administrator account, and install other softwares that you need. Customize desktop, gadgets and other softwares (Office especially-at first run it asking update settings whihc user will need administrator creditentials, its better to do it know so no user will be asked this question)
3-Now go back to other computer and create a folder under C: and name it (say WAIK) and copy the Install.vim and Install_Windows 7.clg files which located under sources to the WAIK folder you just created and run the WAIK. You do not need rest of CD components!!!
4-After finish preparation you will create an answer file (please watch the tutorial how to do this http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/ff657745.aspx) Please use your answer file name as myunattend as I prepared the last command according to that. Most important part here is Copy Profile command which is under Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup (right click and Specialize) and Copy profile must be TRUE.
5-copy that answer file under the Windows\System32\Sysprep\
6-Now you look your desktop and make sure everything customized as you wish and type the following command via cmd!! (Not via GUI)
C:\>Windows\System32\Sysprep  (Enter) then
sysprep.exe /oobe /generalize /unattend:myunattend.xml  (Enter)
Top Expert 2012

Thanks, John.  As always, it's nice to have an opportunity to work with you again.

While I certainly admire the enthusiasm and good intentions of some of our newer EE community members, it's important that we look out for one another to ensure that people seeking a reliable tech solution aren't inadvertently led astray.


Ok thanks I just got back sorry for delay so a lot of solutions Here. I'm going to thank you all and accept the ones inline with sysprep or imaging and group policy as I can't take the chance of the "Copy from Administrator profile" solutions in my environment.
Thanks again
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
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Thank you and thanks for the update. ... Thinkpads_User
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Top Expert 2011

You are doing yourself a good service in the long run by not going the easy route......

Best of luck!!
Top Expert 2012

Good to hear... I think that you will be very pleased with the results of your efforts!