Here's a quick quiz. The Office Profile Wizard in the Microsoft Office 2003 Resource Kit (ORK) is a tool to:

  1. Create Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 mail profiles
  2. Back up Outlook mail profiles
  3. Gather user settings for importing into the Custom Installation Wizard
  4. Back up a user's Office 2003 data
  5. Back up a user's Office settings
  6. Remove files from a user's system
  7. Add files to a user's system
  8. Add and modify registry values
  9. Collect settings and data to move to another machine
  10. All of the above

Sorry, that was a bit of a trick question. If you answered j. All of the above, you were almost correct. Although the word Profile is in its name, the Office Profile Wizard can't create Outlook mail profiles. (To create mail profiles, you should use ORK's Custom Installation Wizard or Custom Maintenance Wizard.) The Office Profile Wizard can do everything else on the list, which is a lot more than you might expect.

The Office Profile Wizard creates or processes an .ops file that contains information about the files in a user's Windows profile folders and registry settings gleaned from an existing Office installation. The more I explore the Office Profile Wizard, the more I think that all Exchange administrators and Help desk staff should consider adding it to their toolkits. To show you why, let's explore the conventional uses of the Office Profile Wizard and some more unconventional uses. Although this article specifically discusses the Office 2003 version of the Office Profile Wizard, most of the information applies to earlier versions as well.

You can download ORK from the Office 2003 Resource Kit Downloads page (http://www.microsoft.com/office/orkarchive/2003ddl.htm). After you download and run the ork.exe file to install the ORK tools, you'll see the Office Profile Wizard on the All Programs menu under Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools, Microsoft Office 2003 Resource Kit. You can also locate it under \program files\orktools\ork11\tools\profile wizard as proflwiz.exe.

Proflwiz.exe is not only part of ORK but also part of Office 2003. However, proflwiz.exe appears to the Office user as the Save My Settings Wizard and not the Office Profile Wizard. That's right—the Office Profile Wizard and the Save My Settings Wizard are the same application. The user will see the Save My Settings Wizard on the All Programs menu under Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools, Microsoft Office 2003 Save My Settings Wizard.

Conventional Uses
Administrators most often use the Office Profile Wizard to gather settings from a user's existing Office installation, whereas users most often use the Save My Settings Wizard to perform a general backup of their Office settings and data. If needed, users can later restore the settings and data by running the Save My Settings Wizard again.

Using the Office Profile Wizard is one of several different ways available in the Custom Installation Wizard to include various files and registry settings in an Office deployment. The Custom Installation Wizard (which is also on the All Programs menu under Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools, Microsoft Office 2003 Resource Kit) is Microsoft's main tool for building the options for an initial Office deployment. The procedure for using the Office Profile Wizard to gather and import the settings is simple:

  1. Install Office (or just Outlook or any combination of Office programs) on a machine.
  2. Configure the different application settings you want to include in the deployment.
  3. Run the Office Profile Wizard to generate an .ops file. As Figure 1 shows, you can choose the applications for which you want to save the settings. The settings include registry changes as well as file additions and removals. The .ops file's settings will be part of the deployment unless they're superseded by other settings applied later in the Custom Installation Wizard deployment process.
  4. Import the .ops file, as Figure 2 shows.

The operation of the Save My Settings Wizard is even simpler. As Figure 3 shows, the user has only two options—one option to save settings and another to restore settings.

Both the Office Profile Wizard and the Save My Settings Wizard let you apply settings that were previously saved to an .ops file. The .ops file is a binary file, so ORK includes the OPS File Viewer. This viewer extracts information from the binary file, converts and stores that information in a text file that has an .out file extension, then displays that text file in Notepad. You can find the OPS File Viewer on the All Programs menu under Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools, Microsoft Office 2003 Resource Kit. You can also find it under \program files\orktools\ork11\tools\viewers as opsview.exe.

How the Wizard Works
Proflwiz.exe determines what settings to save or restore by looking at an .ini file. The Office Profile Wizard comes with two .ini files, whereas the Save My Settings Wizard comes with only one .ini file. When you run the Office Profile Wizard from the ORK folder, proflwiz.exe invokes the opw11adm.ini file, which is in the same folder as proflwiz.exe. When a user runs the Save My Settings Wizard, proflwiz.exe invokes the opw11usr.ini file in the \program files\microsoft office\office11 folder. That folder also contains a prebuilt reseto11.ops file.

Each .ini file includes a number of sections, all documented with comments (i.e., lines that begin with #) in the file itself. The \[Header\] section specifies the product and version. This section is followed by seven sections to back up or remove folders and files and 12 sections to back up or remove registry values. The online Office Profile Wizard documentation (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/assistance/ha011513701033.aspx) explains all the sections. The documentation also provides proflwiz.exe's command-line switches. Table 1 highlights those switches used specifically to save and restore Outlook settings.

To start proflwiz.exe from ORK with a custom .ini file and generate a new .ops settings file, you'd run the command

"C:\program files\orktools ork11\tools\profile wizard proflwiz.exe" /s
mycustomfile.ops
/i mycustomfile.ini

where mycustomfile.ops is the file you want to create and mycustomfile.ini is your custom .ini file. (Although this command appears on several lines here, you'd enter it on one line at a command prompt. The same holds true for the other multiline commands in this article.)

If you want to restore the settings saved in an .ops file, you'd use the /r switch instead of the /s switch to start proflwiz.exe on the user's machine:

"C:\program files\microsoft office\office11\proflwiz.exe"
  /r"\\servername\office_admin  ops\mycustomfile.ops" /q

The /q switch makes this a quiet installation. In other words, the user won't see any prompts. Note that in this example, the .ops file resides on a network share and is invoked with a Universal Naming Convention (UNC) filename.

How the .ini Files Differ
Although the opw11adm.ini and opw11usr.ini files are similar, they don't contain the exact same settings. By examining some of the similarities and differences, you can gain a deeper understanding of the Office Profile Wizard. For example, by examining the differences, you'll notice that they mainly concern Outlook.

In the \[ExcludeFiles\] section, which determines the files to ignore in the user's Windows profile folders, both .ini files include .ost, .pst, and .pab files. There's no reason to include an offline folder .ost file in a backup, but if you want to use the Office Profile Wizard to back up a non-Exchange user's settings (or an Exchange user's archive .pst file), you might want to edit this section so that .pst and .pab files are included. (In other words, place a # character at the beginning of the appropriate line to omit each file type from the \[ExcludeFiles\] section.) However, keep in mind that .pst files can be quite large. It might be better to back them up separately as individual files rather than include them in the .ops file.

There are differences between the two .ini files' \[ExcludeFiles\] section. Opw11adm.ini includes the following Outlook 2003 files and file types, whereas opw11usr.ini doesn't include them:

  • Extend.dat (Exchange client extension settings)
  • Outlprnt (print-format customizations)
  • *.rwz (exported Rules Wizard rules)
  • *.nk2 (nickname autocomplete cache)

In the \[IncludeRegistryTrees\] section, which lists registry subkeys that should be backed up, opw11usr.ini includes the following entry, whereas opw11adm.ini doesn't:

HKCU\Software\Microsoft  Windows NT\CurrentVersion  Windows Messaging
  Subsystem\Profiles   # ol

The ol comment tells you that the entry will be included when you run proflwiz.exe with the /ol switch (i.e., the switch to back up or restore Outlook files and settings) or when you select the Microsoft Office Outlook check box in the Office Profile Wizard GUI in Figure 1.

In the \[RegistryTreesToRemoveToResetToDefaults\] section, which lists registry trees that should be cleared before writing new values from the .ops file, opw11usr.ini includes the entry

HKCU\Software\Microsoft  Windows NT\CurrentVersion  Windows Messaging
  Subsystem\Profiles

The Profiles registry subkey contains all the settings for the user's Outlook mail profiles. Opw11adm.ini doesn't have this entry.

In the \[IncludeIndividualRegistryKeys\] section, which lists individual registry values that should be backed up, the opw11usr.ini file includes the following entries that the opw11adm.ini file doesn't have:

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office  11.0\Common  UserInfo   # common
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office  Common\mailsettings  MarkCommentsWith   # ol
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office  Common\mailsettings  MarkComments   # ol
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office  11.0\Outlook\preferences   # ol

The common comment tells you that the entry will be included when you run proflwiz.exe with the /common switch (i.e., the switch to back up files and settings common to more than one Office application) or when you select the Microsoft Office shared settings check box in the Office Profile Wizard GUI.

In the \[ExcludeRegistryTrees\] section, which lists individual registry values that should be backed up, opw11usr.ini includes the following entry that the opw11adm.ini file doesn't have:

HKCU\Software\Microsoft  Office\11.0\Outlook  Security   # all

The all comment means the setting is always included, regardless of what applications you select to back up.

What's the significance of these differences between the .ini files? The differences mean that running proflwiz.exe with the opw11usr.ini file (as the Save My Settings Wizard tool does by default) will back up certain files and registry settings that are ignored by opw11adm.ini in the Office Profile Wizard. These files and registry settings include

  • Outlook mail profiles
  • Rules exported from Rules Wizard
  • Nickname autocomplete lists
  • Exchange client extension settings
  • Outlook print-format customizations
  • Individual user preferences, including the width of the address book, global archive frequency settings, and how reply comments should be marked

However, running proflwiz.exe with the opw11adm.ini file will back up individual user security settings that opw11usr.ini excludes. The user security settings include the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro security level and the list of file types that shouldn't be blocked by Outlook's attachment security feature.

Unconventional Uses
How might you use the Office Profile Wizard beyond backing up and restoring Office settings or importing them from an .ops file into the Custom Installation Wizard? You can use the Office Profile Wizard to back up, restore, or remove any registry entry that you have permission to change. Furthermore, you can use the Office Profile Wizard to add or remove files in the folders listed in Table 2. This table also lists the tokens used to represent specific folder paths in an .ini file. All these folders are under the user's Windows profile folder, the path of which Windows stores in the %USERPRO-FILE% environment variable (except for , which points to the %USERPROFILE% folder itself). You can even use the Office Profile Wizard with the reseto11.ini file that comes with ORK (or the corresponding reseto11.ops file installed with Office 2003) to reset all Office 2003 settings back to their defaults.

You can use custom .ini files to create .ops files to perform incremental support tasks common to Outlook organizations without writing scripts and without the dependence that the Custom Maintenance Wizard has on having the original Office source files available. Examples of such small support tasks include resetting the entire Outlook custom forms cache and resetting the most recently used (MRU) list for the Location drop-down list on Outlook's appointment form.

One unconventional strategy would be to build the appropriate .ops files for such tasks and deploy them to the My Documents folder (the folder the Save My Settings Wizard uses by default) on local users' machines as part of the Office installation. Figure 4 and Figure 5 show two sample .ini files for use with the Office Profile Wizard to create single-purpose .ops files. The .ini file in Figure 4 creates an .ops file to clear the Forms folder that holds the local Outlook custom forms cache. This .ops file will clear not only the frmcache.dat file but also the individual cached forms in the Forms folder's subfolders. The .ini file in Figure 5 creates an .ops file that clears the Location drop-down list on an Outlook appointment form. Note that in both cases, you need to run proflwiz.exe from the Office11 folder, not the Save My Settings Wizard from the All Programs menu, because the .ops files use the \[ResetToDefaults\] section. In addition, you need to use either the /d switch or select the Reset to defaults before restoring settings check box in Figure 1. When these two .ops files are on a user's machine and that user calls the Help desk to ask how to clear the Location drop-down list, the support technician can walk the user through the process of starting profwiz.exe and loading the appropriate .ops file.

Here's an even more unconventional strategy: You can use the Office Profile Wizard to distribute a set of VBA macros and toolbar buttons to invoke those macros. Although the Outlook VBA wasn't designed to create redistributable code projects and Microsoft provides no supported method to redistribute VBA code, all the code is in one file—vbaproject.otm. Furthermore, all the toolbar customizations are in one file—outcmd.dat. By starting the Office Profile Wizard using the .ini file in Figure 6, you can create an .ops file that loads both those files onto a user's machine so that the user gets the macros and the toolbar buttons. However, note that any existing Outlook VBA or toolbar customization that the user already has will be replaced.

We're Off to Use the Wizard
You've seen how the proflwiz.exe file wears two faces: the administrator-oriented Office Profile Wizard and the user-oriented Save My Settings Wizard. By using the opw11adm.ini or opw11usr.ini file as a starting point to create your own .ini files, you can generate .ops files that not only store settings that can be restored with the Office Profile Wizard but also files that contain instructions to delete or reset files and registry values. Customized .ini and .ops files can provide an alternative to scripts when your Help desk needs to assist users with common Outlook cleanup and configuration tasks.