How to Modify the Default Profile

Microsoft does not officially sanction this method of editing the default profile. I encourage you to read over their instructions. Then you are welcome to come back here and do it the easy way.

These instructions were testing on Windows 8.1 Pro. They basically work the same on any version of Windows I have used.

The first step is to create a local account on the computer that will be used as a template. A domain account will not work correctly. I called my local user setup. Login as setup and customize all the settings you like. For example, you can select a desktop background, organize icons on the desktop, set default browser home pages, etc.

Once the template account is the way you want it, log out and back in as an administrator. This administrator must be a different account than the template account. For my purposes I used a domain administrator. Open file explorer and change the view to show hidden items and show protected operating system files. Navigate to C:\Users\Default and delete the entire contents of the folder (don’t delete the folder itself). If you want you can backup the contents before deletion.

For the next step, change the view to hide protected operating system files.  There are a few files that we don’t need and will refuse to copy.  Hiding them just makes this step easier.  Navigate to C:\Users\setup (or whatever you named your template account).  Select all the files inside the setup directory and copy them to C:\Users\Default.

Change the view to show protected operating system files.  Select all the files in C:\Users\setup that begin with ntuser.  Copy them to C:\Users\Default.

Any new users that login will create their initial profile from the data in C:\Users\Default.  If you are using a Domain Guest account, every time it logs on it will create a profile based on Default.  This in useful for public access computers, like kiosks in libraries.

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