1. Create a new standard local user account (name it ADMIN), add this account to the local Administrators group on the PC. Create a second account, call it MAINT.
  2. Reboot, then log onto the PC using the local user account from Step 1 (ADMIN).
  3. Set up profile settings as desired; desktop icons, IE home page, set up anything you want to be the default settings, etc…
  4. Reboot. When finished, log back onto PC with the MAINT account.
  5. Double-click “Computer”, then Click Organize, Folder and Search Options.  On the View tab, make sure “Show Hidden files, folders and drives” is selected; also uncheck “Hide protected Operating System Files”.  Click OK.
  6. Under C:\Users, rename the hidden “Default” user folder “Default2“. This is a backup of the current default folder, in case something goes wrong.
  7. Make a copy of the profile (ADMIN) customized in Step 2, rename the folder “Default”.
  8. Right-click the folder – under Properties, then Security tab – Add “Everyone” permissions with Full Control (include all folders and subfolders).
  9. Run regedit.exe.
  10. Click on HKEY-LOCAL-MACHINE.  Under File, select “Load Hive”.
  11. Browse to the “C:\Users\Default” folder, click on ntuser.dat (make sure hidden and system files are displayed).  Name the key TEMPLATE_ACCOUNT.
  12. Right-click on the TEMPLATE_ACCOUNT key, select Export, save the .reg file to the desktop.  Open the .reg file with Notepad, and under “Edit – Replace…”, put the user name ADMIN in the “Find what:” field, to be replaced with the string %USERNAME% – choose “Replace All” then save the .reg file.  Double-click it to re-import the changes.
  13. Re-open regedit.exe (or switch over to it if it’s still open).
  14. Under TEMPLATE_ACCOUNT – Control Panel – Desktop, change “Wallpaper” path to the wallpaper of your choice “C:\XXX\XXX\XXX.jpg (a local OR network path will work here).  Check other settings and modify any other keys.
  15. When done, click on TEMPLATE_ACCOUNT.  Then click File, select “Unload Hive”.  This will save the changes you made.
  16. The last step (which is often ignored) is to remove any reference to the previous ADMIN account in the registry. This can be done by going to Start > Run > regedit. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList. In this area of the registry, you will see references to multiple profiles on the system. Find any keys that correspond to the account you set up the template with (ADMIN account), and delete it.
  17. Log out. Log back in as another account. You will know that it worked when you see your custom settings and when you don’t see a notification that says “a temporary profile has been set up….bla bla bla”.