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.

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, email 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."

More on controlling your profile can be had at the Microsoft Knowledge Base article Q184077, dated February 6, 2001.

Edmunds will receive a free copy of Windows Me Secrets for being the first to send me a tip I printed. Brian Livingston's latest book is Windows Me Secrets (Hungry Minds). Send tips to tips@brianlivingston.com.

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