I need to add HKCU keys and values to all machines in a specific OU, for all existing user profiles and to the default profile. What's the best way to approach this?

I could enumerate and iterate through all the NTUSER.DATs, loading the hive, adding the keys, and unloading the hive, but that seems like a clunky way to do it.

Anyone have a better idea? I'd like to script this (PowerShell preferably) and push the changes if possible, but group policy logon scripts would work too.


2 Answers 2


My preferred method is to use Active Setup. What it does, is check when a user logs into a machine if they've ran a particular script or command (Such as the one you would have) and if not, execute it. So, you'll only run a particular script for a user one time on their workstation. I found this to be perfect for writing to HKCU, because you don't have to load each hive and only the accounts that people log into are modified.

Not to self promote, but I did write a blog post about doing this. The basic solution is as follows:

Add the following registry entries:

[HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\UniqueID]
  • You can choose any Unique ID you want. GUID's are often used, but you can use anything that will be unique.
  • Version is whatever version number you want to use.
  • Stubpath is the command that will be executed. MSI, EXE, and VBS calls all seem to be fine.
  • The @ is what should be displayed when the command is running.

With this solution, the scripting language is irrelevant. You could do a VBScript, Powershell, Batch file. Whatever lets you write to HKCU as the logged in user. Using reg.exe directly works fine as well.

The other, optional final touch you could make is load and modify the default user Hive. That would set the registry value for any new users that log on for the first time to that particular system.

  • I'll be damned, this looks perfect. I'd never heard of Active Setup before. Testing now! Thanks.
    – Doug Chase
    May 22, 2009 at 16:19
  • Good answer from 20th Century Boy as well, but Active Setup is the simplest, most reliable solution in my opinon. You can run anything that's "runnable". Sep 18, 2009 at 11:04
  • 2
    How does it handle writing to HKLM, especially when the user is not an administrator? Your blog post could really use an example - as could this post.
    – Ian Boyd
    Aug 24, 2010 at 15:02

You can add custom reg keys by creating a custom adm file and importing it as a template into the Administrative Templates section of a Group Policy Object. Then link that GPO to your OU. There are docs at MS about how to do this, or you can look at the adm files that already exist on the server (somewhere under Sysvol I think).

This process is called "tattooing the registry" and it means you are outside the control of group policy removal i.e. the reg entries will remain even if the policy is removed. You need to create a "reversed" reg key and deploy it (or just delete it).

  • This is a good solution too, and I bet that both of these answers would work.
    – Doug Chase
    May 22, 2009 at 16:20

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