Modify Default User Profile Windows 10In the Windows 7 days, you used to setup a user and then copy that users profile over top of the default  C:\USERS\DEFAULT\… so that things like the START MENU and WALLPAPER would be setup for new users.  Then under Windows 8 and 10 that became very buggy and Microsoft said to setup a user they way you want and instruct SYSPREP to use an XML file that tells Sysprep to copy this current user profile to the Default user profile:

sysprep /oobe /generalize /shutdown /unattend:C:\temp\CopyProfile-Win10.xml

That has now become buggy and Microsoft says you should use GPO’s to setup most default user configuration.  However, that does not work for a everyone because:

  1. Most GPO’s are not default settings, they are permanent settings.  This means most GPO’s set a configuration and block the user from changing it.  That is not nice for things like wallpaper and VIEW > HIDDEN FILES that many users will want to change over time
  2. Some small offices don’t use Active Directory or don’t have the skills to work with GROUP POLICY MANAGEMENT EDITOR

There easiest way around this is to now EDIT the DEFAULT user.  These are the things I change:



I install a pile of themes in my lab users profile the copy:

C:\Users\<lab profile>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes


I copy a few files to C:\Users\Default\Desktop – things like a shortcut to the companies Intranet.


I use REGEDIT to modify the default users configuration:

  1. Launch REGEDIT
  3. Click FILE > LOAD HIVE > select C:\USERS\DEFAULT\NTUSER.DAT (that is the HKCU for the default user)

1 – THEME:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\<WHATEVER YOU CALLED THE DEFAULT>\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Themes\CurrentTheme

C:\Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes\<theme folder>\<theme name>.theme


Turn on File Extensions

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\<WHATEVER YOU CALLED THE DEFAULT>\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\HideFileExt  = 0

0 = show file extensions
1 = hide file extensions

Turn on Hidden Files

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\<WHATEVER YOU CALLED THE DEFAULT>\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\Hidden = 0

0 = show hidden files
1 = don’t show hidden files

Set File Explorer / Computer to Default to THIS PC 

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\<WHATEVER YOU CALLED THE DEFAULT>\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\LaunchTo = 1

0 = does not work


Disable PEOPLE on Taskbar

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\<WHATEVER YOU CALLED THE DEFAULT>\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\People\PeopleBand = 0
If you need to add PEOPLEBAND it is a DWORD(32Bit)

0 = PEOPLE off
1 = PEOPLE on

Set Cortana Search box to Off

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\<WHATEVER YOU CALLED THE DEFAULT>\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search\SearchboxTaskbarMode = 0
If you need to add SearchboxTaskbarMode it is a DWORD(32Bit)

0 = Cortana Search Box Off
1 = Cortana Search Icon is On
2 = Cortana Search Box is On

Show Taskbar Buttons on Taskbar Where Window is Open

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\MMTaskbarMode = 2

0 = Show taskbar buttons on all taskbars
1 = Show taskbar buttons on main taskbar and taskbar where window is open
2 = Show taskbar buttons on taskbar where window is open

IMPORTANT: When you have completed all of the registry changes you wish to make, you MUST click HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\<WHATEVER YOU CALLED THE DEFAULT> and then FILE > UNLOAD HIVE.  If you do not, the DEFAULT USER HKCU will be screwed as the file was left open.

At this point I reboot, sign in as my LocalAdminUser and sysprep.  This can be done through the GUI (C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep\sysprep.exe) or command line (sysprep /oobe /generalize /shutdown) as you see fit.

I rely on GPO’s to set the default tiles in the START MENU and other bits but you may find THIS article helpful in setting default START MENU tiles.


Matt · June 22, 2021 at 11:04 am

Thank you

Jose · June 9, 2021 at 5:42 pm

Hello Ian,

Can you help me. I couldn’t find the ” C:\Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes ” folder. The Default user does not have the Themes folder.

Thank You

    Ian Matthews · June 10, 2021 at 11:33 am

    Hi Jose;

    Yes, the DEFAULT USER does not have a THEMES folder but you can create one and when the DEFAULT USER is copied to the next new user profile, that THEMES folder will go with it. 🙂

Yogesh Gupta · December 12, 2020 at 10:41 am

Do default profile hold usrclass.dat as i dont see it after reimage a test pc

    Ian Matthews · December 19, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    Hi Yogesh;

    I do not believe so. A quick check of my C:\USERS\DEFAULT does not show USRCLASS.DAT either so it must get built on the fly with new profiles.

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