Duplicate settings of 1st Vista user into a 2nd user account?

  polymath 22:54 03 Jun 2012

First, please excuse my posting and running away (have to go after this, but will be back tomorrow).

I'm the sole user so far of my Vista SP2 system, and am creating a 2nd (non-admin) user account (1st time I've done it). No problem, except that it has the default Vista settings, and looks like a lot of work to get to my taste (which the 2nd user shares). (I'd forgotten how many things I'd changed originally!). I haven't started the settings yet, as I'm hoping there's a short cut.

I have some instructions for using the settings one's made in a non-admin user account as a template for further accounts. But is it possible to just duplicate the settings of my own account, rather than doing them all over again?

  [email protected] 00:35 04 Jun 2012

What sort of settings are you referring to? Desktop icons? Screensaver? etc.

  polymath 17:46 04 Jun 2012

Yes, and any other settings that can be done in a emphasized textnewemphasized text user account for use as the default for future accounts.

In fact, as I want user 2 to have access to my documents, photos, address book, bookmarks & other work, I'd like the 2nd account to be just like using mine (to start with anyway, until any different tastes emerge). The only difference I want is for it not to be an admin one (so the other user won't have to worry about 'breaking' anything).

(I realise of course that duplication (if it's possible) can't include the purging of all the superfluous bits of software! Or account settings for individual programs such as Firefox).

It's looking like I'll have to just do those settings again, once anyway. The instructions I have involve selecting a user profile in System Properties, pressing 'Copy to' and selecting the Default User folder. But with my own user profile, 'Copy To' is greyed out.

  polymath 21:37 04 Jun 2012

Sorry - thought I was just putting 'new' in italics!

  [email protected] 13:14 05 Jun 2012

A lot of your personalised settings are stored under C:\Users\[Username], where every Windows user has their own personal folder.

To achieve what you want I think you will have to make some quite substantial changes to your system so that instead of each user having their own personal folder, you will have one Master folder which every account will use to pull its settings. I've never actually done this before but I think this is how it would be achieved, but remember this is at your own risk so make sure any important files are backed up beforehand.

Firstly, create a Master folder that all settings and files will be stored under. Let's call it "UserFiles" and store in C:\ so that its path is C:\UserFiles.

Now navigate to your own personal folder (C:\Users\[Username]). Make sure all hidden files and folders are visible (you should be able to see a faded out folder called "AppData". If they are not visible, press Alt on your keyboard so that 'File, Edit, View, Tools, Help' appear at the top of the screen. Go to Tools, Folder Options, View, Show Hidden Files and Folders.

Now that hidden folders are visible and you can see AppData, copy and paste all folders (i.e. AppData, Contacts, Desktop, etc.) into your new Master folder which we called UserFiles.

The next stage is to tell Windows to look in UserFiles instead of the normal personalised folders. This involves making some changes to your registry.

Go to Start, and in the search box type regedit and press Enter. I highly recommend at this stage that you back up your registry so that if it all goes wrong then you can restore your current settings. Do this by going to File, Export, select All as the Export range and then save it to your C: drive (I'd be inclined not to save it to any of your personal folders as these are the ones we are going to be tinkering with so if it goes wrong you want it saved somewhere where you will be easily able to access it!).

Now navigate to: HKEYCURRENTUSER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders.

Here will you see where Windows will look for certain folders. For example, your AppData will currently be set as C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\LocalLow. These all need to be changed to the new location C:\UserFiles... so that for example, AppData will be C:\UserFiles\AppData\LocalLow. Do this for everything you want to share, eg. Desktop, My Music, Pictures, Personal (this is your Documents folder), etc.

Then navigate to the path: HKEYCURRENTUSER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders\ and do the same again. This is the generic one that will apply to all accounts as opposed to just your account. Any existing accounts may have to be manually changed like you just did for your account, but new accounts I'd imagine will use the new location by default.

Hope this helps achieve what you're trying to do. Some things such as the screen saver etc. my not get transferred but it should work for the bulk of what you have asked. Let me know how you get on with it.

  polymath 22:49 06 Jun 2012

Wow - thank you for taking the trouble to suggest a solution in so much detail, [email protected]! I wasn't expecting such a comprehensive reply (I assumed there'd be either a simple way, or no way).

Sorry for the delayed reply; I was hoping to come back with the results, but have been mulling over whether what I wanted to do really warrants making so many changes to the system (and what downsides there'd be, if any).

Meanwhile, while idly doing a few settings in the new account, I realised they weren't taking as long as first time round (probably because I already know what they are and where to find them!). It looks after all as if it would be best in this instance to finish doing the settings in account 2, then make that the template for any further accounts.

I hope the work of your reply won't be wasted (I'm sure it'll help anyone about to set up a substantial network).

Thanks again.

  [email protected] 13:20 07 Jun 2012

No problem. I'm pleased you've found a way to achieve what you set out to, and maybe one day someone Googling the same question as you will stumble across this!

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