How to Customize Default User Profile for New Accounts in Windows 10
InformationDefault User Profile is stored in a hidden folder in main profile folder Users. When a new user is created, either when installing Windows or any time later, Windows uses this default profile as base for the new user profile. The dafault user profile contains all desktop settings and customizations as well as applications the administrator who has set up the computer want each new user to have.
As you might know Windows does not create the user folders for a new user instantly when the user account is created; instead the user profile folder is first created when the new user signs in to Windows first time. This is why the first sign in to a new user account takes a bit longer, Windows needs some time to copy the default profile to new user profile and create the user.
In this tutorial we customize the default user profile to create a highly customized profile for each new user of the computer.
NoteThe customization process is already explained for most parts in Ten Forums tutorial System Image - Create Hardware Independent System Image. However as that imaging tutorial is meant to show how to create a system image for later deployment (installation) of Windows, I think a separate tutorial for customizing the default user profile is needed. Parts One to Three in this tutorial are exactly the same than in the imaging tutorial mentioned, only parts Four and Five are different.
Part One: Install Windows
Part Two: Customize Default User Profile
Part Three: Create an Unattended Answer File
Part Four: Run Sysprep
Part Five: Finalize installation
Part OneInstall Windows, enter Audit Mode
1.1) Boot your computer or virtual machine normally from a valid Windows install media
1.2) Follow the steps in our installation tutorial until you reach Step 15 and see this screen:
1.3) Do not click any buttons nor press Enter. Instead press CTRL + SHIFT + F3 (press and hold down both CTRL and SHIFT keys, press F3, release all keys)
1.4) Windows reboots now entering a so called Audit Mode using the built-in administrator account. When Windows Desktop will be shown you'll notice the System Preparation Tool dialog in the middle of your screen. Close it for now by pressing the Cancel button:
Part TwoCustomize Default User Profile
2.1) You can now change the Windows colors, sounds, wallpaper and theme, icon placing and folder view options. You can set Internet Explorer home page and favorites, install applications and so on
2.2) For this tutorial I did the following customizations (numbers in screenshot, see explanations below):
- Placed shortcuts for Mail and News app and PC Settings to desktop
- Installed VLC Player and Office 2013 Professional. As Office 2013 can be installed without a product key which is first asked when one of the programs in Office suite is launched first time, it can be included in this image and only needs a product key when image is deployed to a computer and its user wants to use Office. If user does not need or want Office, it can then be easily uninstalled. Placed VLC and Office shortcuts to bottom left
- Set Explorer icon view = large icons, set ribbon to be shown, added Libraries to Explorer left pane tree view
- Added my favorite forums to IE favorites
- Changed the default homepage to
- Changed the wallpaper and theme colors
2.3) You can change and customize quite a lot but there are a few things that can't be set now for default user profile. Pinned Taskbar icons and Start Menu / Start Screen items for instance will not be copied to default user profile. A rule of thumb: You can customize everything related to themes, fonts, colors, sounds, icons, desktop and IE. You cannot customize anything on Start Menu and Taskbar.
Part ThreeCreate an Unattended Answer File
3.1) We are almost ready. We just need a so called Unattended Answer File, a set of instructions in an XML script file to tell Sysprep what we want it to do. An answer file must follow strict syntax rules and it contains all command we want to pass to Sysprep in order to modify the Windows image as we want to.
I have prepared the answer file needed for this procedure. Copy and paste the below code to a new file in Notepad:
Change the following details if needed (see the parts in red in above code):Code:<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?><unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend"> <settings pass="specialize"> <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"> <CopyProfile>true</CopyProfile> </component> </settings> <cpi:offlineImage cpi:source="wim:X:/sources/install.wim#Windows 10 Pro" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" /> </unattend>
- The value of variable ProcessorArchitecture must be "amd64" if you are installing a 64 bit Windows regardless of if you have an Intel or AMD processor, and "x86" if you are installing a 32 bit Windows
- The value in CopyProfile tags must be True if you want the customizations to be copied to default user profile
- On the last line of code, change the location of Windows 10 install media. In this example the media is on drive X:
- Following the install media location, separated with #, see that you have the Windows version correctly (Windows 10 HOME, PRO, EDUCATION or ENTERPRISE)
- Notice that the installation media must be present when we continue with Sysprep!
TipFor advanced users:WarningThe below tip describing how to relocate the main profile folder Users does not work in Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9879; if applied to this build the Sysprep will fail. Use this method to relocate Users if sysprepping Build 9841 or 9860.
I like to use Sysprep and an answer file to completely relocate the main user profile folder Users to another disk, to save space on C: drive. The method is described more in-depth in tutorial here but if you want to, you can easily add the relocation commands to above answer file. See the below example answer file, the lines in red are the additional lines needed in order to tell Sysprep to move the C:\Users to D:\Users. This answer file would not only customize the default user profile but also move the complete Users folder to another drive:
The new location of the Users folder must be told in <ProfilesDirectory>D:\Users</ProfilesDirectory> tags, in this case D:\Users.Code:<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?><unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend"> <settings pass="specialize"> <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"> <CopyProfile>true</CopyProfile> </component> </settings> <settings pass="oobeSystem"> <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"> <FolderLocations> <ProfilesDirectory>D:\Users</ProfilesDirectory> </FolderLocations> </component> </settings> <cpi:offlineImage cpi:source="wim:D:/sources/install.wim#Windows TECHNICALPREVIEW" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" /> </unattend>
3.2) Save the file as an XML file to root of any drive except C:. In this example I save the answer file there as D:\customize.xml:
3.3) Close the Notepad
Part FourRun Sysprep
4.1) Press WIN + X, select Command Prompt (Admin). To ensure that WMP Network Sharing Service is stopped, give the following command:
net stop wmpnetworksvc
The service is most probably not running but if it is, it will now be stopped. When this service is running, Sysprep fails.
4.2) Now the Sysprep command itself. Type the following:
%windir%\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /generalize /oobe /reboot /unattend:d:\customize.xml
The above command tells system to run the Sysprep from Windows\System32\Sysprep folder reading instructions from the unattended answer file D:\customize.xml, generalize Windows (remove all hardware related information), prepare the computer for an OOBE boot (OOBE = the first boot of newly installed Windows) and finally reboot the computer when ready:
4.3) Hit Enter, you will see Sysprep starting to do its magic and when done, reboots the computer:
Part FiveFinalize Windows installation
5.1) Windows boots now to so called OOBE mode, continuing the setup and installation from where we left it to enter Audit Mode in Part One Step 1.2
5.2) Finalize the installation normally as told in Ten Forums tutorial https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/...ll.html#step12, starting from Step 12
5.3) When you arrive at Windows 10 Desktop first time you'll notice that all customizing we did in Audit Mode is there. The apps you installed, theme and colors, icons there where you put them, wallpaper, everything.
See the screenshot in Part Two Step 2.2 and compare it to this screenshot after I arrived to desktop first time after installation:
- Shortcuts for Mail and News app and PC Settings are where we placed them
- Installed apps VLC Player and Office 2013 Professional there, shortcuts exactly where we placed them
- Explorer icon view = large icons, ribbon shown, added Libraries in Explorer left pane tree view, exactly as set in Audit Mode customization
- Favorites as we set them, homepage
- If you did as told in the tip for advanced users in Part Three Step 3.1, the main profile folder has been moved to D:
5.4) Last check: Let's create a new local user and login to that account. As we can see, everything really works as we wanted, the new user has all the customizations in his profile as the screenshot shows (I just moved the app shortcuts to show the Start Menu):
5.5) Notice that the synchronization settings of an Microsoft Account override all other customizations. When a Microsoft Account is used to sign in to Windows 10 and following settings are enabled, they override all other customizations:
Customizations work only if the above sync settings are disabled, and on all local user accounts.
That's it, all future user accounts on your computer start with a highly customized profile .
Im confused by the steps listed here. It states that the customize file needs to be on a drive separate from drive C. Does this assume then that i must have 2 hard drives or a USB drive or something attached to be able to do this? Our environment is virtualized. I don't have the luxury of attaching a USB device to it or partitioning a second drive.