I have a few users in a very old workgroup that log directly into their local machines (Windows XP Pro). This week they're finally moving to active directory and will need to log into domain accounts instead. However, some of these users have been around a long time and are somewhat invested in the profiles they have on the local machines.

How can I move those profiles to the new Active Directory accounts, so that things like desktop backgrounds, browser bookmarks, and other potentially "hidden" settings will follow them? In one case we even have a Windows Media Player playlist we'd like to move seamlessly, though that can be easily re-created if need be.

3 Answers 3


There are several potential ways to do this. Probably the simplest is to do some variation of the following:

  1. Join the domain
  2. Log in as the new domain user, and log out
  3. Log back in as an account with admin rights on the box (but not either the old or new user accounts)
  4. Go to control panel, system, advanced
  5. in User Profiles, click the Settings button
  6. Select the local user's profile, click on Copy To, and browse to the new domain user's c:\documents and settings\username folder.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Click the Change button in Permitted to use Select the domain\username account you just copied
  • 1
    Step 6, should that be, "Select the LOCAL user's profile, [...]" ? Or am I missing the point?
    – Chris_K
    Jul 14, 2009 at 15:45
  • 3
    Chris, you're right-- step 6 should say "local user's profile". I edited it-- thanks for the catch!
    – paulr
    Jul 14, 2009 at 18:30
  • The only downside I can see so far is that it requires the users log into their new accounts once first, but I think I can handle that. I won't get to try it until tomorrow, though.
    – Joel Coel
    Jul 14, 2009 at 21:47
  • Arg, I miss my edit privileges here! Need. More. Rep. :( Anyway: this worked well enough but I'd really like to clarify some wording of the last three steps.
    – Joel Coel
    Jul 15, 2009 at 14:43
  • 3
    August 2014, Windows 7, similar situation... and "Copy To..." is disabled. Five year old post... What to do? Aug 6, 2014 at 15:14

You can try transferring the settings with the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard (Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools).

This should export/import most user settings.

Make sure that the machines where you do the export/import have the same OS version / patch level.


You can use DFS replication to sync the user profiles to another location. Super easy :)

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