Windows 8 comes with a new type of account. Now you can log-on to Windows 8 using your Microsoft account. This can be beneficial when you want to synchronize most of your Desktop settings across multiple computers. This can be achieved using roaming profiles instead of the local ones if you are on a local area network. The Microsoft account can synchronize settings across the Internet provided that the computers are connected to the Internet.
When we create a user in Windows 8 with a Microsoft account ID, it automatically creates the user folder in C:\Users \ folder. The problem here is that the folder that has been created automatically cannot be renamed. This not only applies to the user folder but also to the user-name. If you rename the folder, the next time you log-in to Windows 8, it will log-in with a temporary profile. Let’s go through the correct way of renaming the user folder step by step.

Creating an administrative local user

First of all, you will need to have a local account with administrative privileges in order to rename the Microsoft account. To create a local user with administrative privileges, follow the steps below.

  1. Go to Run –> control userpasswords2
    3- User accounts
  2. The user accounts window will open. Click on the Add button to add a new user.
    2- Add local user
  3. Select “Sign in without a Microsoft account” from the next screen
    1- Add a user
  4. Click on the Local Account button to proceed
  5. On the next screen, you can enter the desired username, password and password hint. All fields are mandatory and need to be filled before continuing
  6. After you have created the account, you should go to User Accounts window (Step 1), select the user from the list and click on the Properties button
  7. Under Group Membership tab, select Administrator. This will add the user to Administrators group.
    4- Group membershipAfter you have created an administrative user, you will need to log out and log-in again with the local user. Please note that you cannot use the user switching feature because in order to change the account name, the actual user should not be logged in.

Renaming the user profile

If I am logged into my Windows 8 computer with the Microsoft ID, my user ID shows as nanos_000. I want to change it to usman-microsoft. Here are the steps for doing this:

  1. Go to Computer Management (Windows Key + X + K)
  2. Open System Tools à Local Users and Groups à Users
  3. In the right hand pane, right click the user which you want to rename, select Rename and type whatever name you want to give to the user.

This is half the work done. Now you will need to rename the user folder so that Windows can map the same user and the user folder. This will be done through Windows Registry. Before the next step, you can also rename the user folder C:\Users\username to whatever you like.

Telling Windows about the new profile path

6- Changing profile path in registry

Windows 8 stores user profile paths in the Registry. To change the user profile path, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to Run  –> regedit
  2. Go to the following registry path:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
  3. Expanding ProfileList key will show sub-keys. You can go through each sub-key and find the correct user profile which needs changing.
  4. After we have identified the correct sub-key, we can change the value of ProfileImagePath on the right hand pane to the new user folder which we have renamed.

This is the final step. Now you can restart your computer and log-in with the same Microsoft user credentials as before but the username and the user folder will be changed.


Usman is a network consultant and owns a technology blog. He loves to explore Microsoft technologies including Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 and Office 2013. Connect with Usman through Twitter.