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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Editing the "Current User" registry hive from inside of a non-admin account

It came to pass that I needed to edit the HKEY_CURRENT_USER Windows registry hive for a particular user the other day. Because this user was not a member of the local admins group, I could not edit the keys I needed to.

I ended up following this method:

1. As the user, log out
2. Log in with an admin account
3. Open Regedit
4. Click on HKEY_USERS
5. Click the File dropdown menu and select "Load Hive"
6. Navigate to C:\Users\<username> (This was a Windows 7 box)
7. In the file name field, enter ntuser.dat. You will not see this file, but it's there.
8. Click Open
9. Give the key a temporary name, I named mine "Coatl"
10. Drill down into Coatl and change what you need to.
11. IMPORTANT: When you are finished, you need to click on the temporary hive, then use the File menu dropdown to "Unload" the hive. Failure to complete this step will result in the user being logged into the machine with a temporary profile.
12. Log out and then back in as the user.

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