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Modifying OS X User Template

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Does this work only for Local users, or does it also work when creating Home folders for “Mobile” Network accounts? Our Macs are bound to Active Directory.

Steve

Yes, it works with network accounts. The system uses the user template to create local user directories on the fly when network accounts log in.

Sean

Mario, this method works for all subsequent accounts that log onto the Mac, including networked accounts such as AD ones.
It will not apply to an account that logs into the Mac before the User Template is modified

Kostas

Hi Mario,
As Steve and Sean already mentioned, it will work with all newly created accounts post User Template modification. Both mobile and Network Accounts are fine.

Hi guys! Thanks for the replies. I will test it out. Does this method also work for inserting .plist files in the Preferences folder, and other settings in Applications Support? For example, I’d like to pre-load certain default browser preferences and favorites on the Bookmarks toolbars.

Alan Lewis

Yes, it does work for .plist and anything else that is stored in the home directory.

Hi guys! Thanks for the replies. I will test it out. Does this method also work for inserting .plist files in the Preferences folder, and other settings in Applications Support? For example, I’d like to pre-load certain default browser preferences and favorites on the Bookmarks toolbars.

Alan Lewis

Yes, it does work for .plist and anything else that is stored in the home directory.

Jeremy Spolander

Just spotted this, Nice one Kostas.
In theory you could zap the rights on that folder and import a pre-configured home folder with all the right dock icons, settings, app support, prefs, docs etc and then reset the rights after. Any idea if it actually works this way?

Kostas

Hi Jeremy,
I would love to say yes but in reality it often proves highly unstable. In certain cases application plists, config files and misc pointers/symlinks etc will have hard-coded paths to user locations.
i.e. an application plist having a key entry pointing to: /Users/username/Documents/folder/../../.
In those cases there might be issues or even crashes as that location will not be able to be accessed by other users.
In addition you have cached files that need to be cleaned. The permissions themselves should not be a problem as once you copy the contents of the Template User Folder into User Templates it should inherit the permissions from root folder (root:wheel)
Hope that helps

Jeremy Spolander

Makes sense, cheers.

Jeremy Spolander

Makes sense, cheers.

This method isn’t recommended by Apple, and will frequently get wiped out by OS updates. In fact, this is rumoured to not work at all in an upcoming version of OS X (which I couldn’t possibly comment on). A safer and more future proof method is using a Launch Agent to modify the user’s environment via a script – which will also affect existing users, so you don’t need to worry about copying over new parts of the User Template to them when it’s updated.

Dave

Any recommendations for doing this in 10.11?

For 10.10 and 10.11 I’ve found following these steps for “Update for Yosemite” work great. Just make sure to edit the command lines to “Template” from “Templates” as it seems to be a typo in the commands.
http://sites.sas.upenn.edu/jasonrw/blog/2013/03/create-custom-default-user-profile-os-x-107108?page=1#comment-3187

Dave

Any recommendations for doing this in 10.11?

David Acland

Hi Dave,
There’s been a few conflicting reports but most people are saying that as its in the /System folder its going to be locked out with System Integrity Protection.
The recommended alternatives these days are either configuration profiles or logon scripts depending on what you need to do.

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