How To Change A Windows Account Name And User Profile Folder Name

Changing a user's account name in Windows is a straightforward, easy to achieve task. The problem that many users experience after changing the name is that the name of the profile folder is not changed during the process. Say you have a user account Martin and a user profile folder under c:\users\Martin. If you change the account name from Martin to Bob, you will see Bob during login. The user folder under c:\users is however still named Martin and not Bob.

So what can you do if you want to change both the account user name and the folder name of the user profile?

Here is a step by step guide on how to change a user's name and profile folder name under Windows 7. Please note that the old user name will still be used by some Windows Tools, permissions come to mind.

It is recommended to create a backup or at least a system restore point before you start the process, as it requires some basic Registry hacking.

You can use a program like System Restore Manager to create a new system restore point, or one of the backup software programs in our overview for the backup.

You will also lose your current theme which you should backup as well if you want to continue using it.

New Admin account

You need to create a new administrator account to execute all the commands. You cannot use the account that you want to change the user name for. If you only have one account you need to create on first that you can delete again after you have made all the changes. If you have a secondary standard account you can temporarily promote the account to administrator for the process.

Click on Start, then Control Panel. Select Add or Remove user accounts from the options and click the Create a new account link. Name the account and switch to Administrator before you click on Create Account.

create admin account

Renaming the user account

While we are at it; You can now change the visible user name of the user account that you want to change the name for. Click the Change your account name link in the user account view if you are logged into the account you want to change the name for.

change account name

If not click on manage another account, select it from the list and then pick the Change the account name option.

You can now log out of the current account. We have created a second administrator account and changed the visual name of the user account. Log into the admin account that you have just created or promoted afterwards.

Renaming the user folder

Open Windows Explorer or another file browser and open the users folder that you want to rename on the main drive. The folder is usually located under c:\users. Locate the folder of the profile that you want to rename, right-click it and select Rename from the options. Enter the new name and press enter after you are finished. You may see an UAC prompt that you need to accept.

The user folder has been renamed, but you need to edit the Registry setting as well as the old folder path is still stored in the Registry. You would get profile not found errors if you would now try to log into the old user account.

Editing the Registry

Open the Windows Registry editor with the shortcut Windows-r, then regedit and the enter key.

Navigate to the following Registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

You find several S-1-5-xx folders in there. You need to click on each folder until you find the the ProfileImagePath folder with the data set to the profile path of the old username, e.g. c:\Users\Martin.

profile folder name

You may want to use the search (by pressing f3) if you find many Registry sub folders there.

Double-click the ProfileImagePath name and enter the path to the new user folder into the form, e.g. c:\Users\Bob

profile image path

You can now log out of the admin account and log in to the original user account. You will notice that the account name is now displaying the new name. Once logged in you will also notice that the folder under Users is now showing the new folder name that you have selected.

And that's basically how you change both the account user name and the user folder on Windows 7.

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Responses to How To Change A Windows Account Name And User Profile Folder Name

  1. hlm March 28, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    Martin, Nice tips thanks for sharing. BTW possible to use this trick on Windows XP?

  2. Jyo March 28, 2011 at 5:31 am #

    Nice little hack. Never actually had to implement this, but definitely good to know.

  3. Visitor March 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Using this method is not safe. You may experience some problems with programs that use old path for user folder (e.g. WinRAR). I recommend you to search the registry keys of such programs and edit them manually.

    • Martin Brinkmann March 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

      Good tip. It should however be quite easy to resolve those errors. You may want to search for c:\users\username in the Registry and correct all program paths that point to the old folder.

  4. jasray March 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Changing names on XP accounts is easy under computer management. When Vista and 7 came out, everything changed--a real mess. Say I set up a computer which will later be sold; what to name the account? I found even copying profiles to be somewhat of a natural disaster. Will definitely have to try this on a trial machine. Thanks!

  5. dmzu April 1, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    And what about this article you published a while ago?

    https://www.ghacks.net/2010/04/23/windows-user-profile-relocator/

    • Martin Brinkmann April 1, 2011 at 9:00 am #

      The software has not been updated in a year but should work nevertheless as well. I do prefer making important changes manually instead of relying on a software though. But it is another option, right.

  6. Ed April 2, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    Not impressed: I know you are working in a second language, and I know that Windows is a mess, but you must work hard on achieving some kind of clarity in your writing,

    • Tim April 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

      Ed you are an idiot.For a guy who is using English as a second language Mr. Brinkman probably uses it better than a lot of native born speakers.

    • Ziv June 27, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

      Ed, congratulations.
      You're an A class schmuck.

  7. Steven August 14, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    I'm running into a problem when I rename the folder. Upon renaming, I'll get a prompt confirming that I want to use my administrative rights, but then I receive an error that "The action can't be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program...". Unless I'm missing something, I'm logged into the new administrator, and all other users are logged out, so I can't tell what could be using the folder. Any insight?

    • Martin Brinkmann August 14, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      Have you closed programs that may use data in that folder? Web browsers for instance?

    • Martin_Vision February 21, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

      Try booting in safemode F8 then rename

  8. steve.marks59 December 21, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    This article Martin Brinkmann has written is the most informative I have seen on this subject. Many other articles have claimed it can not be done. and the only option one has is to create a new profile and then transfer files and setting over to the newly created profile from the old one. Martin Brinkmann shows us in this article how to actually change the name of both the user account and the profile folder.

    I thank him for sharing this with us. I intend to follow this method tomorrow.

    By the way, I don't know what the heck your own problem is ED but this is a fine article so if you feel otherwise then write a better one or just keep quiet. (I was going to say just SHUT UP but figured it might be a little harsh.)

  9. Fred February 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Thanks Martin. Your article was of great help. I cross-checked your suggestions with: http://community.spiceworks.com/how_to/show/2236 . I then felt confident enough to give it a try. And it worked.

  10. maspiers March 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

    Martin.

    A good tip well explained, which just got me out of a sticky situation.
    However, the username as displayed in (for instance) Task Manager is still that of the original account, and I can't find how to fix that.

    • maspiers March 18, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

      And then I did.
      Computer Management > Local users and groups > Users > rename

  11. Jacob Martin March 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Ok i did all of this but im haveing problems.. There are alot of places in the registry that have my old name so it wont let me share folders and certain programs are giveing me an error now.. does anyone know how many places it would be in the registry? ive found a few and have fixed some problems but there are 10000 folders in there and i hate to go thro one by one ( and as a added not ive found 2 that will not let me change . i think because they are running but have not clue what they are because its just a number)

    Thanks for your help..

    • Victor September 6, 2013 at 8:58 am #

      Just use the search function... You don't need to click folder by folder. That would be insane! ^^

  12. bulan June 5, 2012 at 4:34 am #

    Thanks martin :0

  13. Anonymous July 7, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    Well.. guess i'll just reformat Windows instead of having to edit over 500 registry strings. Dammit.

  14. Kayode July 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Please help, when i try to change the name it keeps displaying "...folder is in use..." and I've followed the instructions exactly.
    I created another administrator and logged in from there and tried to change it BUT it was displaying that the folder is in use. I even tried changing the account to a standard user but its still not working.
    All other programs have been closed. would running in safe mode help?
    also what programs might still try to access the old name assuming it works eventually. thanks a great deal.

  15. A Joshi September 6, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Excellent tutorial. Got everything done, up and running,
    in less than half a day. Used Registry Toolkit from

    http://www.funduc.com/registry_toolkit.htm

    to find and replace old user name with new username, did some renaming myself and Bingo !!

    Thanks a ton, Martin :)

  16. Anonymous September 6, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    In summary: Microsoft has a bug in their login routine. A registry hack is required to fix. No solution or even acknowledgement of the issue provided by Microsoft. So as usual, Independent Techs fix Microsoft issues for them and Microsoft then keeps all the money....I'm I the only one who sees something wrong with this?

  17. Anthony October 5, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    I tried renaming the user folder, but I kept getting, "The action can't be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program. Close the folder or file and try again." What do I do to get around this?

  18. Samuel October 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    Oh thank you so much... thanks a million! :)

  19. Allan October 23, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    I did have also "The folder or a file in it is open in another program" issue by renaming user folder. Got it renamed in Safe Mode. To get into Safe Mode press F8 at reboot before Windows logo.

  20. JohnO December 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Martin, many thanks for this article. I took over a laptop from a guy who left, but found it hard being known as Kevin.
    I too had the above problems renaming C:\Users\Kevin, even in safe mode. I had a look at the services, and found one near the end: User Profile Service. The name looked relevant, though I wasn't confident, but I could stop it. Lo and behold, I could rename Kevin! Phew!

    • Martin Brinkmann December 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

      John thanks for the tip, it will surely help other users out who face a similar situation.

  21. PJGU January 20, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    JohnO.....what version of Windows are you using so I know what to do if I have the same version?

  22. JohnO January 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    PJGU
    Windows 7 SP1 (64 bit, but that might not be relevant for this).
    John

  23. Coleen July 17, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    Thank you very much Martin. Very, very helpful for me. I was in a panic mode when I wasn't able to install a software application I needed for my job. I had written to their techsupport team and it was still not resolved. So, I was already thinking of reformatting everything! Good thing I came across your article. I followed your instructions (that by the way is very easy to understand) and my problem was solved. Thanks for the guidance! Saved me a lot of time and unnecessary stress.

  24. SETI August 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Thanks for the info Martin. In regards to the people whom are unable to rename the user folder, reboot the computer and then login to the newly created administrator account and then rename the folder. Just logging off and logging in to the newly created account did not allow me to rename the folder (folder in use prompt). You should update the instructions to reflect this.

  25. Math September 1, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    Thanks

  26. Kelvin September 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Thanks for the tips! I done all those, and it works well except one place.

    When I go into System Properties (Right click My Computer -> Properties -> Change Settings)
    In Advanced Tab, User Profiles - > Settings, I still see the all profile name listed there.

  27. duncan October 6, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    my data got wiped after i did this, luckily i had backup

  28. JamieH October 14, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    Thanks so much!! JohnO I had the exact issue, stopped that service and name change complete! I wonder if that's a HP issue as I'm on a HP laptop. In any case, thanks much to both of you!!

  29. HMTM November 26, 2013 at 6:47 am #

    Easy Solution
    Type netplwiz in cmd and change the name

    • docjaz October 31, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

      Thanks. HMTM. That worked, and it only took a couple of minutes, including rebooting the PC, as opposed to "less than half a day."

  30. Gary SK February 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    I followed the instructions on how to change the user name. I created a new admin acct with password. I logged into the accouknt, and (under Safe Mode) renamed the /user/xxxx directory to the new user name. Logged out and back in under the user, using the new name.

    Then ran regedit as the new user name (which has admin privs) and with multiple iterations found (hopefully) all instances of the old user name in a slew of registry entries. The search ability of regedit.exe SUCKS.

    when I came to login this morning, it woud allow me to enter the password for the neww admin acct, but on every attempt to login to the changed acct, I get a message that the password or usersname is invalid. I went back to the new admin acct, and changed the password for the changed acct. Still the same result. I went back to the new admin acct again, and removed the password for the changed acct. The logon screen still asks for a password, and whether I leave it blank or enter something, the result is the same; NO ACCESS.

    I decided I could endure the loss of internet passwords, but evidently I have screwed something up in my registry hacking. I did create a system restore point before starting this process. I did not create a password reset disk (was non my to-do's for today).

    Do you or anyone have any pointers for me to check up on, like particular keys or files to look at to determine what is wrong so that I can fix it?

    • Martin Brinkmann February 24, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

      Some time has passed since I wrote this, but I don't think that you have to search for the username in the Registry and replace all instances of it.

      • NateS May 6, 2014 at 7:51 am #

        Martin, I was about to follow your instructions to make the name change in my User folder to match the name change in my Log-in until I came to this recent reply/comment of yours:

        "Some time has passed since I wrote this, but I don't think that you have to search for the username in the Registry and replace all instances of it."

        What does this mean? Does this mean that if I miss finding some of the occurrences of the old user name in the Registry and leave them alone with the old name, that everything will still work fine? Do you mean that Windows will still find those Registry entries when it needs them?

        Or do you mean that you are not really sure whether your method is really still safe because it's been so long since you wrote the original advice?

        I'd like to do this, but your Feb 2014 comment makes me somewhat uneasy. Please clarify.

        Thanks in advance for your reply!

        Best wishes, NateS

      • Martin Brinkmann May 6, 2014 at 8:12 am #

        I only meant that it is usually not necessary to scan the whole Registry. Just make the modifications outlined above and that is it.

  31. Jenn March 28, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    Thanks for the walk-through. :)

  32. Dwight Stegall April 11, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    I just figure out something that has been bugging me for many years and found a way to fix it.

    When you try to delete a file in Windows Explorer and a box comes up saying you can't delete it because it is open in another program it doesn't tell you which program it is open in.

    Rename the file (if it will let you) by just adding another character to the name. Then right click the file and click on delete. This time it will tell you which program it is open in.

    Close that program if you can. If you don't see one that is open press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC keys to open the Task Manager. In the Processes tab look for that program. Click on it and then click the End Process button.

    Now go back and delete file.

  33. James May 3, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    Thank you so much for this! Very useful and easy to follow! :)

  34. NateS May 6, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    Martin, Thanks so much for your quick reply!

    So, just to clarify, when you say:

    "Just make the modifications outlined above and that is it."

    are you saying that it is only necessary to make the modifications outlined in your originating post dated March 28, 2011 and that it is not necessary to make the additional modifications suggested by others in their comments following your post?

    I want to be clear on this because that is the part confusing me.

    Best wishes, Nate

    • Martin Brinkmann May 6, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

      I would start with the original instructions. If you run into any issues afterwards, for instance programs that do not start up anymore or don't load user data, try scanning the Registry as program related information may need to be updated then.

      • NateS May 6, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

        Thanks! Now I am clear on your instructions and advice.
        Very good.
        I appreciate your articles and I respect your wisdom.

        Regards, Nate

  35. NateS May 8, 2014 at 5:32 am #

    Martin Brinkmann posted this great tip on March 28, 2011and I was amused to just stumble onto this Microsoft Support "Workaround" under "Renaming a User Account Does Not Automatically Change the Profile Path" posted by Microsoft seven (7) months later, on October 20, 2011 at:

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2454362

    As far as I can tell, Microsoft virtually copied Martin's solution and posted it as their own, giving Martin Brinkmann no credit whatsoever for being the one to have solved the problem! This seems to coincide with the observation made by "Anonymous" posted above.

    Am I correct Martin that this is virtually your solution posted 7 months earlier, or is their a distinction between the two? And if there is a distinction, do you have any comment on any difference between the two?

    Best wishes, Nate

  36. PRADEEP May 16, 2015 at 7:41 am #

    MARTIN PLZ HELP ME.....I DID THE SAME PROCESS WHICH YOU TOLD ABOVE.BUT I HAD LOST MY OUTLOOK EXPRESS MAIL. AND I DIDNOT HAVE THE BACKUP.CAN I GET BACK TO MY OLDER USER AGAIN?

  37. PRADEEP May 16, 2015 at 7:59 am #

    MARTIN PLZ HELP ME.....I DID THE SAME PROCESS WHICH YOU TOLD ABOVE.BUT I HAD LOST MY OUTLOOK EXPRESS MAIL. AND I DIDNOT HAVE THE BACKUP.CAN I GET BACK TO MY OLDER USER AGAIN?AND MY OLD USER FOLDER IS NOT PRESENT IN DOCUMENTS AND SETTING/USERS

    • Martin Brinkmann May 16, 2015 at 8:31 am #

      Hi, I'm afraid I cannot be of help if you don't have a backup. System Restore is not working as well?

      • Richard January 16, 2017 at 9:05 am #

        Hey PRADEEP... if you're seeing "Documents and Settings" preceding the Users name it sounds like you're running Windows XP. This article was written for Windows 7.

  38. Stuart June 12, 2015 at 1:08 am #

    Hi. I found your page after trying to find a solution to the following problem :
    I have renamed through the registry + explorer the main profile of a PC running W7 that's for a client but when I open the task manager or access the user profiles through the advanced system properties - the username hasn't been changed there even if everywhere else it has.
    Can you help me please ?? - this is making me loose an incredible amount of time

    Solution found... netplwiz !
    I'll leave this post here should it prove usefull to anyone else.

  39. Shadow October 21, 2015 at 2:14 am #

    I have changed my profile folder from "javarealty" to "Shadow" in registry editor, but after searching deeper, there are still many data value that has 'javarealty in it. Can I change all of them to "Shadow"?

    Please reply...

  40. Matt May 13, 2016 at 6:30 pm #

    After following the instructions above I was able to change the folder name. However when I was getting about 10 or so errors when trying to create a backup with backup and restore. It was trying to look for the old user name:

    C:\Users\OLDUSER\SOMEFOLDER1
    C:\Users\OLDUSER\SOMEFOLDER2
    etc...

    I used 'find' in regedit to find all references to C:\Users\OLDUSER and replaced with C:\Users\NEWUSER and it seems to have fixed it. There were A LOT of references, way more than just the backup and restore errors. Some might have been unnecessary to change or worse shouldn't have been changed but backup and restore is working now.

  41. Will June 2, 2016 at 12:00 am #

    I am trying to get this to work in Windows 10, but have had no luck so far. Anyone know how?

  42. kk June 17, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    How to point to a machine or server which is present in the network ?

  43. zel August 1, 2016 at 10:11 am #

    hi..its been how many years since you posted this process, but my problem is also similar to this topic..so i did all the process to change folder username but when i restart my pc i cannot see my old admin acct in the welcome screen..it appears only my "new admin accnt" as i used to change folder username and guest acct..maybe you had an idea how can i get back my original admin acct..please help..thank you in advance..

  44. zel August 1, 2016 at 10:15 am #

    hi martin can you help me..my old admin acct disappear in welcome screen after i change folder username..only guest and new admin acct as i used to change folder username appearing in welcome screen..please help..

  45. Anonymous panda September 18, 2016 at 6:48 am #

    This causes an infinite loop at startup for windows 10. Do not implement. Had to factory boot.

  46. Easton October 20, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

    Martin -- Thank you. Works great with Windows XP on an old HP Pavilion dv8000 I rebuilt. Got rid of the old user name. I got tired of being called "sharon." It's a good name, but not for me.

    I wouldn't do this on a laptop that I had previously used, but for old machines that are rebuilt or brought back into service for specific duties, this is great. Thanks!

  47. Pieter December 12, 2016 at 3:18 am #

    Does it work for windows 10?

    • Martin Brinkmann December 12, 2016 at 6:22 am #

      I have not tried it on Windows 10 but see no reason why it should not work. Make sure you make a backup before you try it though.

  48. Venkat May 9, 2017 at 7:43 am #

    Hi Martin,

    After I have switched to the new admin account which I have recently created, when I try to rename the folder in the C:\Users it is giving me a pop up "The action can't be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program".

    However, I have closed all the files and folders in the account before logging off from that. Could you please help me in getting the issue resolved.

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