Customize the Default User Profile by Using CopyProfile

Applies To: Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2

You can use the CopyProfile setting to customize a user profile and then copy that profile to the default user profile. Windows® uses the default user profile as a template to assign a profile to each new user. By customizing the default user profile, you can configure settings for all user accounts that are created on the computer. By using CopyProfile, you can customize installed applications, drivers, desktop backgrounds, internet explorer settings, and other configurations. Note that some settings are not preserved by using CopyProfile.

In Windows 8, Enterprise and IT Professionals can use CopyProfile to preserve the customized tile layout of groups on the Windows 8 Start screen.

In this topic:

  • Creating an answer file with the CopyProfile setting

  • Configuring Default User Profile Settings

  • Troubleshooting CopyProfile

Creating an answer file with the CopyProfile setting

Use the following procedure to create an answer file to instruct Sysprep to copy user profile settings when you generalize the Windows image.

To create a separate answer file for copying user profile settings

  1. On your technician computer, open Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM). Click Start, type Windows System Image Manager, and then select Windows System Image Manager. For more information about Windows SIM, see Windows SIM (System Image Manager).

  2. Create a new answer file to use with Sysprep:

    1. Click File, and then click New Answer File. An empty answer file appears in the Answer File pane.


If the Windows 8 catalog file doesn't appear in the Windows Image pane, follow the instructions in Open a Windows Image or Catalog File.

2.  In the **Windows Image** pane, expand **Components**, right-click **amd64\_Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup**, and then click **Add Setting to Pass 4 specialize**.  
3.  In the **Answer File** pane, select the **Components\\4\_specialize\\amd64-Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup\_neutral** folder.  
4.  In the **Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup Properties** pane, in the **Settings** section, type the value `CopyProfile = true`.  
5.  Save this new answer file to the root directory of the removable media or network location, and name it **CopyProfile**.  

For more information, see Best Practices for Authoring Answer Files and Unattended Windows Setup Reference Guide.

Configuring Default User Profile Settings

Use the following procedure to configure user settings in audit mode and then generalize the Windows installation by using an answer file that contains the CopyProfile setting. If you install Windows with another answer file, that answer file should not contain the CopyProfile setting or any settings that create additional user accounts.

To configure default user profile settings and generalize the image

  1. Install Windows on a reference computer and boot in audit mode. For more information, see Boot Windows to Audit Mode or OOBE.


Don't use a domain account, because the CopyProfile setting runs after the computer is removed from the domain when you run Sysprep. As a result, you'll lose any settings that you configured in a domain. If you change the default user profile and then join the computer to a domain, the customizations that you made to the default user profile will appear on new domain accounts.

  1. Customize the built-in administrator account by installing applications, desktop shortcuts, and other settings.


There is a limit to the number of provisioned Windows Runtime-based apps that you can install. However you can create scripts to install additional non-provisioned apps. For more information, see Sideload Apps with DISM.

  1. After your customizations are completed, insert the media that contains the CopyProfile answer file in the reference computer. For example, you can copy the answer file to a USB drive.

  2. On the reference computer, open an elevated command prompt, and then type this command:

    C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep\Sysprep /generalize /oobe /shutdown /unattend: F:\CopyProfile.xml

    where F is the letter of the USB flash drive or other removable media. The Sysprep tool removes computer-specific information from the image, while preserving the user profile settings that you configured. For more information, see Sysprep (Generalize) a Windows installation.

After the image is generalized, the computer shuts down, capture the image by booting to Windows PE and then capture the Windows installation by using DISM. For more information, see WinPE: Create USB Bootable drive and Capture Images of Hard Disk Partitions Using DISM. After the image is captured, you can deploy it to a destination computer by using DISM. For more information, see Apply Images Using DISM.

Test the User Profile Customizations

After the customized image is deployed to a destination computer, you can test the user profile customizations. You can go through Out-Of-Box Experience (OOBE) to test the end user experience, or you can test the user customizations in audit mode.


Apps based on the Windows Runtime won't start in audit mode because audit mode uses the built-in administrator account. To run Windows Runtime-based apps you must modify a registry key before you can validate your Windows installation in audit mode.

To test the user profile customizations after OOBE

  1. Install Windows to a test computer.

  2. After Windows is installed, go through OOBE and specify the computer name, user account name, and other items. After OOBE is complete, the Windows start screen appears.

  3. Log onto the computer with the user account specified during OOBE and verify that your apps and customizations appear.

To test the user profile customizations in audit mode

  1. Boot to audit mode by using an answer file or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+F3 when OOBE starts. For more information, see Boot Windows to Audit Mode or OOBE.

  2. Verify that your customizations work as intended. To test Windows Runtime-based apps, modify the following registry key:

    1. From an elevated command prompt, run Regedit.exe.

    2. Browse to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\FilterAdministratorToken registry key.

    3. Click FilterAdministrationToken, and then type 1 as the value data.

    4. Log off from the computer.

    5. Log back on to the computer, and start the Windows Runtime-based apps to verify that your customizations work as intended.

    6. After you complete validation of your Windows Runtime-based apps, reset the FilterAdministrationToken registry key to 0.

Troubleshooting CopyProfile

If the user profile settings aren't successfully copied:

  1. Make sure that you set the CopyProfile setting only once during the deployment process.

  2. When you customize user settings, only use only the built-in administrator account on the computer to avoid accidentally copying settings from the wrong profile.

  3. Confirm that you didn't use a domain account.

  4. Verify that there are no additional user accounts other than the built-in administrator account that you configured:

    1. Click Start, and then type Control Panel.

    2. Click Control Panel, and then click Add or remove user accounts.

    3. Select any additional user account other than the built-in administrator account that you configured, and then delete it.


Delete all other user accounts on the computer before you customize the built-in administrator account.

  1. Make sure that non-provisioned Windows Runtime-based apps that are stored in the tile layout are installed within two hours of user logon to preserve the tile layout on the Start screen, when apps are registered after the new user first logs on.

  2. Some settings can be configured only by using the CopyProfile unattend setting, and other settings can be configured by using Group Policy.

    • Use Group Policy to configure settings that are reset by the new user logon process. You can also create scripts to define these user settings.


    • Use the CopyProfile unattend setting instead. For more information, see Unattended Windows Setup Reference.

See Also


Sysprep Command-Line Options


Sysprep Process Overview

Other Resources

Sysprep (System Preparation) Overview