How do I share programs across multiple user accounts in XP?
November 22, 2006 1:46 PM   Subscribe

How do I use the program settings from the admin user account across several limited user accounts in WinXP? I don't want to have to "reinstall" iTunes, Reason, Ableton Live, Photoshop, etc. just because I am using a different login in windows, but I want to get away from using the admin account for general use (for security reasons).

I had been using one login (the admin account) to do everything, but now I have created several logins for various activities on my computer (one for general use, one for streamlined DAW performance, one for guests) and don't want to have to reinstall all of my already-installed programs just because I am using a different windows login, and as it stands now, the programs are taking me through the installation process (which I canceled) as soon as I try to use them from a different user account.
posted by adi to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Right click on the shortcut to the exe or the exe itself and select Run As.
Type in the login of the Admin and the password.
posted by althanis at 3:56 PM on November 22, 2006

You could make a new admin account, and change your current account to "power user" or just a regular account.

Otherwise, I think you'll have to copy all sorts of folders (application data, etc).
posted by niles at 5:06 PM on November 22, 2006

'Cept I guess the new account thing won't help, since you already have the accounts
posted by niles at 5:12 PM on November 22, 2006

If you are just talking about the 'shortcuts' in the start menu, you can copy them to 'All Users' - I do this constantly - install under one account, then run in another.

Right-click on the 'Start' menu button and select 'Explore' - you can then figure out the tree fairly easily at that point.

Of course, if there are actual custom settings for each program - then 'that depends' and are usually stored in the registry.
posted by jkaczor at 6:42 PM on November 22, 2006

This is going to be different for every application. As I understand it, basically each application has asked you the installation questions and then stored all these setting for that user, probably in the section of the registry specfic to that user or in a folder in the users "Documents & Settings" folder. I guess this means that you should be able to copy those settings across, but as I said, it's going to be different for every program!

Unfortunately, I think your only option is going to be to do it all again, or set up every program to "Run As" the admin account (which kind of defeats the purpose of the new accounts, doesn't it?)
posted by ranglin at 8:24 PM on November 22, 2006

If you haven't already done extensive customization in your limited user accounts, you can replicate the admin account's profile to the default profile, delete the profile folders for your limited accounts, then let Windows recreate them from the updated default profile when the user next logs on. This will capture most application settings. It will also mess some things up.

If you've only got a handful of user accounts, you'll spend less time on this by just letting your apps set themselves up per user than you will on heroic measures to avoid them having to do that. The heroic measures are actually fairly brisk - it's undoing all their @!$#%@ side effects that eats all your time.

If you're new to the whole running-as-nonadmin thing, the Nonadmin web site is a valuable resource.
posted by flabdablet at 8:38 PM on November 22, 2006

My own handy trick to make the Windows multiple user mess a little more tolerable: create a folder called Shortcuts inside C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Desktop. When you log on as Admin and install software, and the software creates a desktop shortcut, copy and paste it straight into the Shortcuts folder (which will appear on everybody's desktop), then delete the original. Don't just drag and drop, or you'll get security permission hassles.

This fixes two related kinds of annoyance: installers that create otherwise useful desktop shortcuts only in the desktop of the installing user, and installers that create All Users desktop shortcuts that not all users are likely to want.

Limited users can freely copy shortcuts out of Shortcuts onto their own desktops as desired, but can't remove them from the Shortcuts folder.

It's kind of like the standard Unused Desktop Shortcuts folder that the stupid Desktop Cleanup Wizard makes, except it doesn't suck.
posted by flabdablet at 8:45 PM on November 22, 2006

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