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Set up a customized new user template Desktop
Here's how I set my system up for multiple users to try and guarantee that things will work for my users just like they work for me.

In the folder /System/Library/UserTemplate/English.lproj/ there is a default set of home directory files and preferences used by the system for each new user created by an admin in the Users preference panel. We will now create a new set of default preferences to replace the Apple supplied prefs.

Read the rest of this article if you'd like to change the default setup for new users on your system.

[Editor's note: This is a very useful hint if you have a number of users on your machine and you want them all to have identical customized setups!]

I created a new (non-admin) user called "UserTemplate" and logged in as that user. I proceeded to customize the user interface the way I like it....I set up XDarwin, Windowmaker edited the .cshrc file in my the home directory to add several terminal shortcuts, installed Tinkertool and put the dock on the bottom right with the scale effect, added a few apps and folders to the dock, customized the toolbar with icons/apps/folders to my liking. I set Classic and OmniWeb 4.1 sneeky peek as login items (you need to have more than just Classic starting up at login for new users or they will sit and wait for Classic to launch before they try anything...Apple should really hide this).

I then marched through all the preferences giving optimal settings to each but NOT inputting any user information anywhere as this is to be a set of generic settings. I also customized the OmniWeb toolbar and added a basic set of bookmarks/prefs. I set the finder to open with four columns, etc. etc.

After customizing the interface to my satisfaction I logged out, logged in as my admin account and used the finder to create a backup copy of the /System/Library/UserTemplate directory within my home directory (just in case!). I then opened the terminal and typed the following commands:
cd /System/Library/UserTemplate/English.lproj
sudo cp -R ~UserTemplate/* .
sudo cp -R ~UserTemplate/.* .
[Editor's note: Remember that "UserTemplate" is the name of the new user created just for this purpose - if you use a different user name, remember to put it here as well].

I got two errors on the terminal copy that were inconsequential so I ignored them. I then created a new user via the Users preference pane, logged in as that user, and lo and behold...all my customizations were there!

This makes creating new accounts a if only it were so easy to update some existing accounts without destroying existing user prefs.

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Set up a customized new user template | 8 comments | Create New Account
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Folder doesn't exist - is this X.1 only?
Authored by: JoeHope on Oct 10, '01 07:31:40PM

I thought I'd look at the defaults and discovered that there is no UserTemplate folder anywhere in the filesystem. Is this an X.1 hack only? I'm still on 10.0.4.

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Folder doesn't exist - is this X.1 only?
Authored by: Anonymous on Oct 11, '01 02:31:33AM

I guess it is 10.1 only...I can't remember ever seeing this on 10.0.4 but as I don't have it to verify anymore, I guess I'll never know for sure ;-)

One glitch in my instructions is that my backup method for the UserTemplate directory will not work unless you are logged in as root.

An alternative for this step is

sudo cp -R /System/Library/UserTemplate ~username

where ~username is of course your username


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Authored by: moneey69 on Aug 06, '03 05:22:44PM

Hey man thank you so much for this hint!!! I work for an advertising agency, and I handle about 70 to 80 macs. Life was ok with OS 9 but then came OS X (which i have only been using for like 4 months ,and i love it) But the problem was that I couldn't figure out how to clone computers. Then came along Carbon Copie Cloner, which made life a litte easier but still i had to create new users account from scratch which took forever. Now with this hint of yours. I have made a images for my creative users and my studio users, where it takes minutes to create new user accounts instead of hours..................
Thank You very much!!!!!

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Set up a customized new user template
Authored by: rpunsbe on Sep 15, '07 10:22:37AM
I just wanted to confirm that these instructions still work in 10.4.10. I just tried them out on my macbook and it worked like a charm.

There are also some instructions that are a little bit easier at

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For Snow Leopard...
Authored by: etresoft on Nov 24, '09 08:00:08PM

Excellent hint. It still works in Snow Leopard. The only change is that the folder is now named "User Template" with a space.

Edited on Nov 24, '09 08:00:35PM by etresoft

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Set up a customized new user template
Authored by: marook on Oct 20, '11 06:58:17AM

1: Still valid for 10.7 Lion.

2: Remeber to NOT copy(or remove) the Login.keychain on the account you use to set it up.
Otherwise the login will complain that it could not unlock the keychain, and promt for your setup-password.. ;-)
The first login will auto-create the login.keychain anyway, so simply delete it in the Template.

3: Don't leave Finder windows open. They will point to your setup account, and not have access.. ;-)

4: On Lion, clear out ~/Library/Saved Application State
Otherwise the apps you had open under the setup user will open in states not so good (like web sessions etc..)

5: Remember to copy the files into the language of the Login Window language!!!
Pr. default, that is English, but if you selected something else during the OS install, like Danish, you need to copy the files into "User Template/da.lproj" and not "User Template/English.lproj" !!


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Set up a customized new user template
Authored by: blackjmac on May 24, '12 01:33:09PM


I created my user template in English and French for all new users on Lion. My root session is in French, my admin session in French too, and all new user accounts are always in English by default. How do I set up the French language for all new user accounts automatically when creating a new account ?


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Set up a customized new user template in 10.8
Authored by: Bambi on Jul 30, '12 09:21:39AM

Works in 10.8 Mountain Lion.

I usually target mode to another computer to move the user folder, and I just got it to work in 10.8

Be careful:
-The computer you are connected to must also be 10.8. Try it from 10.7 and you get a permissions mess.
-Remember to get the Library folder, it should still be hidden.
-I did not try to move the Containers folder.
I would say that this method is still effective for custom deployments.

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