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The first half of a user profile is the profile hive: Ntuser.dat. You learn about the second half in "Profile Folders." This file is in the root of users' profile folders. 1, "Learning the Basics," and 2, "Using the Registry Editor," describe hive files and how to work with them. Users' operating system and application settings are stored in profile hives. For example, you find all the per user settings for Windows Explorer and persistent network connections in profile hives. Profile hives also contain per user taskbar, printer, and Control Panel settings. Accessories that come with Windows XP store per user settings in the profile hive. When Windows XP loads a user profile, the operating system loads the hive file Ntuser.dat into the subkey HKU\SID, where SID is the user's SID. (See 1, "Learning the Basics," for more information about SIDs.) Then Windows XP links the root key HKCU to HKU\SID. Figure 10 2 shows this relationship. Windows XP and most applications reference users' settings through HKCU, not HKU\SID, because HKCU resolves which subkey of HKU contains the console user's settings. HKU contains a second hive file, HKU\SID_Classes, which contains per user file associations and class registrations. You learn about this in Appendix A, "File Associations."
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Figure 10 2: Windows XP loads Ntuser.dat into HKU\ SID and then links HKCU to it. The list of profile hives is in the key ProfileList, which you learned about in the previous section. It contains one subkey for each user profile. The subkey's name is the name of the hive in HKU or the account's SID. The REG_SZ value ProfileImagePath is the path of the profile hive file Ntuser.dat for that user profile. ProfileList does not contain a value for the SID_Classes hives, however. HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\hivelist contains one REG_SZ value for each hive in HKLM and HKU that the operating system is currently using. The difference between the values ProfileList and hivelist is that ProfileList contains a list of all user profiles that Windows XP knows about, loaded or not, and hivelist contains a list of all currently loaded hive files. Tip You can load and edit profile hives in Registry Editor (Regedit) without logging on to the computer using the account that owns that user profile. This is one of the techniques you use later in this chapter to build default user profiles.
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The folders in a user profile contain per user application files. For example, Office XP installs templates and custom dictionaries in the user profile. Internet Explorer stores its cookies and 224
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shortcuts in the user profile. The most interesting folder in a user profile is the Application Data folder. Figure 10 3 shows a user profile in Windows Explorer. Some of the folders are hidden; show the hidden files in Windows Explorer if you want to see all the following folders for yourself: Application Data. This folder contains application files, such as mail files, shortcuts, templates, and so on. Each application's vendor chooses what files to store here. You can redirect this folder to a network location using Group Policy. Cookies. This folder contains Internet Explorer cookies. Desktop. This folder contains files, folders, and shortcuts on the desktop. Users see the contents of this folder on the Windows XP desktop. You can redirect this folder to a network location using Group Policy. Favorites. This folder contains Internet Explorer favorite shortcuts. Users see the contents of this folder on Internet Explorer's Favorites menu. Group Policy doesn't support redirecting this folder, but you can redirect it manually as shown in 15, "Working Around IT Problems." Local Settings. This folder contains application files that do not roam with the profile. The files you find in this folder are either per computer or too large to copy to the network. This folder contains four interesting subfolders: Application Data. This subfolder contains computer specific application data. History. This subfolder contains Internet Explorer history. Temp. This subfolder contains per user temporary files. Temporary Internet Files. This subfolder contains Internet Explorer offline files. My Documents. This folder contains the default location for users' documents. Applications should save users' documents to this folder by default, and this is the location to which the common dialog boxes open by default. This folder also contains the My Pictures folder, which is the default location for users' pictures, and optionally the My Music folder, which is the default location for users' music files. You can redirect this folder to a network location using Group Policy. NetHood. This folder contains shortcuts to objects on the network. Users can browse the folders to which these shortcuts are linked in the My Network Places folder. PrintHood. This folder contains shortcuts to printer objects. Users see the contents of this folder in the Printers folder. Recent. This folder contains shortcuts to the most recently used documents. Users see these shortcuts on the My Recent Documents menu, which is on the Start menu. SendTo. This folder contains shortcuts to drives, folders, and applications that are copy targets. Users see the contents of this folder when they right click an object and then click Send To. Start Menu. This folder contains shortcuts to program items. Users see the contents of this folder on the Start menu and on the Start menu's All Programs menu. IT professionals can redirect this folder to a network location using Group Policy. Templates. This folder contains template files. Users see the contents of this folder when they right click in a folder and then click New.
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Figure 10 3: The user profile folders you see in this figure are the default folders in a clean installation of Windows XP. HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders is the key where Windows XP stores the location of each folder that's part of a user profile. Each value in this key represents a folder as shown in Table 10 2. These are REG_EXPAND_SZ values, so you can use environment variables in them. Use %USERPROFILE% to direct the folder somewhere inside users' profile folders and %USERNAME% to include users' names, particularly when you want to redirect a profile folder to a network location. Redirect users' Favorites folders to the network by setting Favorites to \\ Server \ Share \%USERNAME% \Favorites, where \\Server \Share is the server and share containing the folders, for example. Windows XP does not use the similar key Shell Folder. Table 10 2: User Profile Folders Name AppData Cache Cookies Desktop Favorites History Local AppData Local Settings My Pictures NetHood Personal PrintHood Programs Recent SendTo Start Menu Startup Templates Default path %USERPROFILE%\Application Data %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files %USERPROFILE%\Cookies %USERPROFILE%\Desktop %USERPROFILE%\Favorites %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\History %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings %USERPROFILE%\My Documents\My Pictures %USERPROFILE%\NetHood %USERPROFILE%\My Documents %USERPROFILE%\PrintHood %USERPROFILE%\Start Menu\Programs %USERPROFILE%\Recent %USERPROFILE%\SendTo %USERPROFILE%\Start Menu %USERPROFILE%\Start Menu\Programs\Startup %USERPROFILE%\Templates
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