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Window Manager
Brian Livingston
Control your profile

IF YOU USE a laptop when you're away from the office, but you log on to a Windows 2000 or NT domain account when you're at headquarters, you may find it frustrating that a different "profile" of the preferences you've set is maintained for each log-on.

Reader Todd Edmunds had a separate but related problem. He'd just added a new server/domain controller in his office, but when he switched to using the new domain, gone were all of his preferences, installed program defaults, e-mail accounts, and so forth. This was true even though he'd set his user profile to "local."

Fortunately, both problems can be solved. You can have a single local profile that retains all of your settings whether you're logged in at the office, on the road, or on a new domain.

The secret is a little-known Registry setting in Windows 2000 and Windows NT that determines where your machine finds the file that contains all this stuff. By making both your office log-in and your laptop log-in use the same file, any changes you make to your settings and any programs you install will be reflected wherever you may roam. The same is true if you switch from an old domain to a new domain.

The procedure basically involves three steps:

* Create a new local user. By logging on as this new user and then logging off, you've created a default local profile.

* Find your user account. Log on as an administrator and locate the account you created in the C:\Winnt\Profiles folder. A subfolder with a name like myname.000 should be present. Change the permissions so your local account can access the profile.

* Change the path to your profile. The Registry key that contains the information about each profile is stored at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList. Edit the value of ProfileImagePath so that your user account points to the desired profile.

As Edmunds put it, "When I rebooted, I had my old Desktop and settings back, and I was logged in to the new domain! The only drawback was that I had to re-enter all of my Outlook passwords."

To carry out the specific procedure, you'll need Microsoft's point-by-point description, which you can find in the online version of this column.

More on controlling your profile:

The following material is excerpted from Microsoft Knowledge Base article Q184077, dated Feb. 6, 2001.

See my column dealing with this subject, "Control Your Profile," printed in the Aug. 27, 2001.

How to Associate a Local Profile with More Than One User

Microsoft Product Support Services Article ID: Q184077

The information in this article applies to:

Microsoft Windows NT Server, Enterprise Edition Version 4.0

Microsoft Windows NT Server Version 4.0

Microsoft Windows NT Workstation Version 4.0

Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional

Microsoft Windows 2000 Server

Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server

IMPORTANT: This article contains information about editing the registry. Before you edit the registry, make sure you understand how to restore it if a problem occurs. For information about how to do this, view the "Restoring the Registry" Help topic in Regedit.exe or the "Restoring a Registry Key" Help topic in Regedt32.exe.


This article describes how to associate more than one user account with a single local profile. This is especially useful for portable computer users that have a domain account they use while in the office, but use a local account when they are away from the office.

This article makes the following assumptions:

You are a member of the Administrators group on the system.

You already have a domain account with a local profile.

You want to create a local account that shares that profile.

More information

To associate more than one user account with a single local profile, follow these steps:

1. Create a local user. Your local user can have the same user name that your domain account has. There cannot be a conflict because your workstation or member server maintains its own account database.

NOTE: This is not the situation with domain controllers.

2. Log on as the newly created user, and then log off. This creates a default local profile and adds the path to ProfileList in the registry.

3. Log on with a local-administrator (or equivalent) account that is not the domain user or local user account that is being altered. Check the %SystemRoot%\Profiles folder to find the folder that the new user profile was created in. If your local account name is the same as your domain account name, that folder takes the form of username.000.

WARNING: Using Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of Registry Editor can be solved. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

For information about how to edit the registry, view the "Changing Keys and Values" Help topic in Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) or the "Add and Delete Information in the Registry" and "Edit Registry Data" Help topics in Regedt32.exe. Note that you should back up the registry before you edit it. If you are running Windows NT or Windows 2000, you should also update your Emergency Repair Disk (ERD).

NOTE: When attempting to perform this task with a clean Installation of Microsoft Windows 2000, you need to substitute "%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings" for "%SystemRoot%\Profiles".

4. Edit the permissions on the profile to enable your local account to access it. Start Regedt32 and go to HKEY_USERS. With HKEY_USERS selected, click the Load Hive option from the Registry menu. Select the file "%SystemRoot%\Profiles\username\Ntuser.dat, where username is your domain account name.

NOTE: When you attempt to perform this task with a clean Installation of Windows 2000, you need to substitute "%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings" for "%SystemRoot%\Profiles".

5. When prompted to enter a key name, type in your user name and press ENTER. You can now see an entry for your user name under HKEY_USERS. Select it and click Permissions from the Security menu. Add your local account name to the list of permissions, granting the account full control. Click OK when you are finished.

6. To save this change, select your username, and then click Unload Hive from the Registry menu.

7. Alter the path that points to this profile. In Regedt32, go to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

8. Under this key, you can see a list of Security Identifiers (SIDs). To find the SID corresponding to your new local account, open each key and look at the value for the ProfileImagePath. When you find the value that matches what you found in step 3 above, modify the ProfileImagePath data so that it points to your domain account profile path.

9. Close Rededt32 and log on with your local account. You can see your familiar profile.

If your domain account has a roaming profile and you configure your profiles as described above, you can see messages when you log onto the domain that state your local profile is newer than your roaming profile. You must select your local profile, or any changes you make with your local user account are overwritten.

NOTE: When working with a version of Windows 2000 that was upgraded from Microsoft Windows NT, "%SystemRoot%\Profiles" is the correct path. Many details are included there in addition to the ones I've summarized in my overview.

This trick gives users a welcome consistency as they move from place to place and from server to server. Let me know the ways you find to use it.

Edmunds will receive a free copy of Windows Me Secrets for being the first to send me a tip I printed.


Operating Systems

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