How to create a custom ISO for Windows 10

Installing Windows 10 is easy ; as a Windows administrator or expert user, all you have to do is download an ISO from Microsoft, burn it to an external device and use it to boot the personal computer or laptop .

In 15 to 30 minutes, you ‘ll have a clean, fresh Windows 10 facility, but it calm will require some work before it ‘s fix for production use. You ‘ll need to install software and the desktop and personalize the Start menu to meet your requirements. then, you ‘ll need to repeat this process for each of your PCs and repeat that procedure whenever a reinstall is necessary.

There is a unlike method acting you can take. First, you should install Windows 10, customize it to your needs, install all the software you need, capture that installation and use it to create an ISO. Using this customize ISO for your facility media, you need half an hour to clean install Windows 10 with all your software and personalization. When you want to change something in your ISO, add or remove software, change personalization, or update or upgrade Windows 10, you just update the trope and create a modern ISO. It ‘s fast and easy to do, and it can work for any Windows administrators .

Getting started with a custom ISO

To create a custom ISO, you need install media for your choose Windows 10 version and software, a technician machine — a Microsoft term that means a personal computer on which you can build OS images — and about 20 minutes longer than it would take to clean install Windows 10 and all your software one time .
The process of creating a custom ISO breaks down into five discrete parts :

  1. Install Windows and prepare assets while installing
  2. Update and customize Windows, install software
  3. Generalize Windows image with Windows System Preparation Tool (Sysprep)
  4. Capture Windows image, create the ISO
  5. Update/Change the ISO

aside from whatever software you pre-installed in your Windows prototype, you do n’t need any third-party tools, apps or other software ; everything is done using native Windows 10 and Microsoft tools .
You should follow these steps to create a custom ISO for a Windows 10 background .

1. Install Windows and prepare assets

Install Windows normally until it stops at the Region Selection screen after the last boot. When the background requests a product key, select the “ I do n’t have a merchandise key ” option. Windows does not need to be activated for this work .
This example uses a Hyper-V Generation 1 virtual machine ( VM ) as the technician machine, with a 64 GB virtual heavily disk. Before starting the VM, you should change its settings to use Standard Checkpoints alternatively of default Production Checkpoints .
Installation takes 15 minutes or thus to complete. While it ‘s running, you have time to prepare some assets on your host machine. First, download and install the Windows 10 Assessment and Deployment Kit ( ADK ). following, create an unattended answer file using the Windows System Image Manager ( SIM ), which is contribution of the Windows ADK. Do n’t panic even if you are a Windows SIM newcomer. It ‘s easy to use .
If you are feeling uncertain about this, or if Windows SIM looks besides intimidate, input the follow answer charge into a blank file using Notepad ( Figure 1 ) .
Windows Answer File in Notepad
Figure 1. Windows Answer File in Notepad

The values shown in bold bolshevik   above are explained below .
ProcessorArchitecture = adm64 for 64 bite Windows, x86 for 32 bit
Logo = OEM logo ( 120 * 120 pixel bitmap ( .bmp ) ) file
Manufacturer = Whatever you like
SupportHours = text drawstring ( 9 AM to 5 PM, 10:00 – 18:00, 24/7 etc. )
SupportPhone = any call act
SupportURL = any URL
OEMName = Whatever you like
RegisteredOwner = Whatever you like
TimeZone = As per Microsoft time zone names
All the preceding answer file components are optional, except ProcessorArchitecture — this component is mandate. If you do not need or want to set a clock time zone, for exemplar, you should remove this pipeline :
W. Europe Standard Time
When you ‘re done customizing the answer file, save it as unattend.xml. You should create a new booklet on Microsoft OneDrive and name it “ Deployment Assets. ” Save your answer file in this booklet .
next, prepare an OEM logo persona if one is needed. Any bitmap image ( .bmp ) will do, but its size must be precisely 120 x 120 pixels. Save the effigy as oemlogo.bmp in the Deployment Assets folder .
Modify backdrop images, colors, sounds and screensavers on your master of ceremonies machine, then save your settings as a theme charge. Save all the themes you ‘d like to include in the custom ISO into your Deployment Assets folder adenine well. This booklet is where you ‘ll find the items you need to customize your ISO again and again .

2. Update and customize Windows, install software

When Windows facility is done, the final apparatus out of box experience ( OOBE ) begins. The serve stops to let you to select the region but alternatively of doing that, crusade Ctrl + Shift +F3 .
Windows interrupts its normal frame-up and restarts in audited account mode, a especial customization mode for Windows. Because no drug user accounts exist on the desktop yet, it signs you into audit mood using the built-in administrator report. cluck on ” Cancel ” to close it, and then change the display resolution if the default 1024 adam 768 is excessively small for you to work in .
You can now install your software and update Windows. Do not run any programs so far. If, for case, the installer shows ” Run this lotion immediately ” selected in a final prompt, unselect it and close that installer. Do not install any hardware drivers — even those that Windows Update installs automatically will be removed late. If any installer or update requires a restart, do it. Windows returns to audit mode after restart. If you want to download software, you must use Microsoft Edge .
significance the Deployment Assets you prepared while Windows was installing on your technician car. If you saved assets on OneDrive, gestural into your OneDrive score. Download the oemlogo.bmp file and save it to the C : \Windows\System32 folder. Do the like for the solution file unattend.xml and save it to the C : \Windows\System32\Sysprep   booklet. It is important for you use these file name precisely as shown, and to save them to the folders specified .

Customizing the installed image

You do not need to save the Windows themes that you prepared. Select a desktop theme on OneDrive and rather of saving it, blue-ribbon Open to apply it to the technician machine. Because Windows is not activated in audit modality, you can not use personalization options ( e.g., themes, colors etc. ). Applying an spell theme is your only means to customize theme and desktop appearance .
Open File Explorer and customize it as you like. You can adjust picture size, hide or show the Ribbon, show item choice boxes, show Details or Preview paneling, show Libraries in Navigation acid and so on .
The following PowerShell command exports your stream Start layout to the file named C : \Windows\System32\MyStart.xml :
Export-StartLayout C : \Windows\System32\MyStart.xml
When you ‘ve exported the file, open the Group Policy Editor with the command Win + R, type gpedit.msc. The Group Policy Editor is not available in Home and Single Language Windows 10 editions. Browse to Local Computer Policy > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar in the left paneling, then double click Start Layout on the right-hand acid .
enable policy by entering C : \Windows\System32\MyStart.xml as the Start Layout File, then click on OK to save that policy .
This policy forces each user history to use your customize Start layout .
Two batch files are still missing from this customization. They run once each prison term a raw exploiter signs in for the beginning time. The first gear file resets File Explorer ‘s late Files and Quick Access. To build this file, type or copy and paste the following two lines into a new Notepad text file :
echo Y | del
% appdata % \microsoft\windows\recent\automaticdestinations\ *
del % 0
This batch charge resets Quick Access and then deletes itself because it only exists and runs when a new exploiter signs in for the first time. In Notepad, select File > Save As, type % appdata % in the address browning automatic rifle in the Save As prompt, then iron Enter to open AppData\Roaming booklet .
Browse to the folder named Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup Save the file as RunOnce.bat and choice ” Save As type : All files ” in Notepad ‘s Save As immediate .
The second batch file is a ocular Basic Script ( .vbs ) file. Its determination is to greet new users the beginning time they sign in, after which it deletes itself. This file is optional, but it is something you should credibly include in your customize images. type or copy and glue the following text into a fresh Notepad text file :

Dim WshShell, Welcome
Set WshShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")

Welcome = WshShell.Popup("Welcome to customised Windows 10 with pre-installed software.", 60, "Windows 10", vbOKOnly)

Select Case Welcome
case 1
MsgBox "Following software has been installed: Office 365 (2016), Adobe reader, VLC Player, Chrome, Firefox and Opera. You will also find some pre-installed themes in Settings > Personalize > Themes.", vbOKOnly, "Windows 10"
End Select

MsgBox "Have Fun with Windows 10!", vbOKOnly, "Windows 10"

Function DeleteScript()
Set objFSO = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
strScript = Wscript.ScriptFullName
End Function

Save this file as Welcome.vbs   to the same booklet where you saved RunOnce.bat. Again, select the ” Save As type : All files ” option in Notepad ‘s Save As motivate .
If you like, you can besides prepare both the unattend.xml and Welcome.vbs files on the host while Windows is installing .

3. Generalize Windows image with Sysprep

One humble — but important — footfall you must take before running Sysprep is creating a partition on the Hyper-V VM to store a get Windows image. If you are using a physical personal computer as the technician machine, this is unnecessary. alternatively, you can simply use an external HDD or flare drive to store that image.

Create free space in Disk Management

open Disk Management and shrink the master C : partition to create barren outer space for a newfangled partition in which to capture a Windows image. It needs to be boastful enough for the install.wim file you ‘ll capture by and by. For example, a custom Windows 10 Pro x64 ISO could include the follow software pre-installed : Office 365 Business, Macrium Reflect, Opera, Chrome, Firefox, VLC actor, Adobe Reader, Malwarebytes, TeamViewer, 7-Zip, Notepad++, and other software that varies from construct to build .
As described, this results in an install.wim file that ‘s between 5 to 6 GB in size. To compensate, you normally subtract 10 GB ( 10,240 MB ) from C :. That ‘s enough for most users. then, exit Disk Management .
To help identify key partitions late, rename the system drive C : to Windows and the new division to Image or any other classifiable name. Create a newly folder on the new capture drive ( E : ) named Scratch. You will need it when capturing the prototype as a impermanent work folder using the DISM instruction .

Prep and run Sysprep

If you are running a Hyper-V VM, create a checkpoint now. If you are using another virtualization program, create a snapshot. If using a physical personal computer, you should create a system image now. Checkpoints and snapshots take fair a moment, while imaging a physical personal computer takes a sting longer .
Check that the built-in admin ‘s or current exploiter ‘s Downloads folder is evacuate and that no software installers or assets are left there. Run Disk Cleanup to remove all temp files, Recycle Bin content and other bloat .
To run Sysprep, open the command prompt. The background will mechanically elevate it because you are signed in using the built-in administrator account. Run the follow command :
% windir % \system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /generalize /oobe
This command runs Sysprep with Generalize and OOBE switches and then shuts down. The Generalize switch removes all hardware-related information such as drivers and register entries, resets Event Viewer, removes all shadow copies — restore points — and disables the built-in administrator account .
The OOBE switch forces Windows to run its setup phase the following time Windows boots from this image as if it were a normal Windows frame-up. Because Windows was generalized, it generates a new alone SID for each such facility .
Sysprep reads the answer file unattend.xml from C : \Windows\System32\Sysprep folder. In this sheath its most crucial wrinkle reads true. When true, CopyProfile copies all our customizations to the default exploiter profile in the obscure Default booklet in the Users folder. That profile is used as the base profile whenever a new user score gets created .

4. Capture Windows image, create the ISO

once Sysprep finishes working its charming, the Windows 10 installer shuts down. Boot the technician machine using the Windows 10 install media — the lapp you used in the beginning to install Windows. Do not let it boot from hard magnetic disk, an HDD or SSD if using a forcible machine or VHD if you ‘re using Hyper-V .
At the first prompt when Windows frame-up asks for region and lyric settings, rather of selecting anything and starting installation, press Shift + F10 to open the Recovery Console Command Prompt. Type diskpart and weigh Enter to start the phonograph record partitioning utility, then type list vol to list all available volumes, or partitions. For this case, the Hyper-V VM number vol shows this data :
Hyper-V list vol value

You can see why it ‘s important to name the phonograph record partitions so you can identify them easily .
bill that the Recovery Console does not use the lapp drive id policy as Windows 10. You need to be sure which drive has Windows installed and which drive will store the capture image for customization and re-use .
Type passing and press Enter to exit the magnetic disk partitioning utility .
Enter the following command :
dism /capture-image / imagefile:E:\ install.wim
/ capturedir:D:\ / ScratchDir:E:\ Scratch
/name : ” W10PROx64 “ /compress : maximum
/checkintegrity /verify /bootable
Check and note the keep up important details :

  • /imagefile:E:\ = drive where install.wim will be saved
  • /capturedir:D:\ = drive where Windows is installed
  • /ScratchDir:E:\ = drive where temporary working folder Scratch is located
  • /name: = any name you like in quotes, not important but obligatory, here you can see the version of Windows: 64-bit Win10 Pro

Press Enter to start .
This will take some time to complete. On slow physical machines, it can take up to 20 to 25 minutes. During the first half of that menstruation, you wo n’t see a advancement indicator .
When this command has finished, eject the install media — in Hyper-V blue-ribbon Media menu > DVD Drive > Eject. Next, close the command prompt and restart the technician car. This meter, kick normally from HDD or VHD and let it work through normal OOBE apparatus .
While the technician machine is preparing and setting up Windows, right-click the original Windows 10 ISO image you used to mount it on the server calculator as a virtual DVD. then, open it in File Explorer and copy its integral contents to a new folder on the master of ceremonies HDD .
When the technician car is ready and your initial user is logged into the background, copy your newly created install.wim file from the prototype tug ( E : ) to the Sources subfolder in the folder where you copied the master Windows facility files. In this example, that’s D : \ISO_Files\Sources folder. It will replace the original Windows 10 install.wim file .
Hyper-V users should besides create a checkpoint now on their technician VM to capture a pristine system image .

Windows imaging tools

Run Deployment and Imaging Tools Environment elevated as an admin. It is installed as depart of the Windows ADK and you can find it in Start > W > Windows Kits. Type CD\ and crusade Enter to set the working booklet to the root of the C : drive. Enter this command :
oscdimg.exe -m -o -u2 -udfver102 -bootdata:2 # p0, east,
b-complex vitamin d:\iso_files\ boot\ # pEF, vitamin e,
barn d:\iso_files\ efi\microsoft\boot\efisys.bin
d:\iso_files d:\Win10PROx64.iso
The past control is one long continuous command line though it breaks across multiple lines in this article .
Check and the bill following details :

  • d:\iso_files = path to folder where you copied original install files
  • d:\Win10PROx64.iso = path and your preferred name for new ISO

With all this work completed, making the ISO takes precisely a minute or two. When that ‘s done, you can burn the ISO to a DVD or flare tug ; it will work on both BIOS/MBR and UEFI/GPT systems to install your custom-make Windows with its pre-installed software .

5. Update or change the ISO

The beauty of using Hyper-V VM as technician machine lies in how easy it makes the caper of maintaining and updating a customize install image. For exercise, Windows Insider : Fast Ring receives raw pre-release builds frequently and participants may want to upgrade their ISOs at the lapp pace .
When you feel like changing the ISO, you can merely apply the Hyper-V technician VM ‘s standard checkpoint you should have created barely before running Sysprep Windows. You can add and remove software, update software, run Windows updates, apply a new theme or do whatever else you might need to do .
When that ‘s done, you should run Disk Cleanup, create a new checkpoint so you can restore to this point, reprise Sysprep, capture a new install.wim and make a new ISO. This action will be much faster now. The hale process takes merely minutes because both Windows and basic software are already installed .

Upgrading the custom ISO

As a Windows Insider, you might besides be concerned in upgrading the ISO. When a modern build arrives, you should restore the checkpoint you created when the technician car was in full set up after capturing the install.wim file. You ca n’t use the checkpoint made in audit modality before Sysprep, because promote Windows in audit mood is not possible .
once you ‘ve booted to normal mode, you can upgrade to the latest insider build or the next feature update physique using Windows Update or a criterion ISO prototype. When that upgrade completes, enter the keep up command in an promote command prompt to restart Windows in audit mood :

% windir % \system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /audit /reboot
Windows restarts, then signs into audited account modality using the built-in administrator report. Your initial exploiter report already exists, so you should open Settings app > Accounts > other users and delete all existing exploiter accounts and their visibility folders .
You should besides delete the custom install.wim charge from concluding meter if it ‘s even located on the image drive — e : in this case — and check to ensure that the Scratch folder hush exists. If not, you must recreate it manually .

source :
Category : Tech FAQ

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