Sync Windows settings and make all your devices use the same settings

Windows 10/8.1 has a nice feature called feature sync to the cloud, so that when you reinstall the operating system, you automatically get the customizations. This saves time and energy. You can use the feature to have the same settings across all your Windows 8.1 computers. That means, same settings will be applied to all other computers or devices, and you will be at ease using them as it is as customized as you customized it for the first time. All your apps are also installed on all Windows 8.1 computers you use.

We have seen how you can synchronize Internet Explorer Settings across Windows 8.1 devices. This article talks about what all you can sync using Windows 8.1 and how to sync Windows 8.1 settings across computers.

If you have a local account but would like to convert it into Microsoft Account for configuring PC Sync settings this piece of writing will help you.

What does Windows sync do

Sync Setting in Windows

Windows 10/8.1 offers to sync your apps, settings, and other features so that when you reinstall the operating system, you don’t have to customize the computer again. But this is possible if you use a Microsoft Account to login.

If you use a Microsoft account, your preferences and apps’ information is stored on OneDrive. In case you disconnect the Microsoft account and use a local account, you will not be using OneDrive, and hence it won’t be able to sync. It won’t sync your settings even if you use a local account and install OneDrive Desktop Sync software. In short, to have your settings, apps, and other features synced, use a Microsoft account for login instead of making it a local account.

It is also necessary to know that user settings are synced per user. That is, Windows 8.1 will sync features, customizations and app info for each user using a Microsoft account to login to the Windows computer. Again, local accounts will not be synced even if you install the OneDrive software for syncing files and folders.

Here is a list of the settings Windows 8.1 synchronizes:

  1. Computer Settings
  2. Start Screen Preferences
  3. Apps on Start Screen
  4. Appearance – including colors and account image
  5. Browser settings
  6. Passwords for Apps
  7. Language Preferences
  8. Ease of Access
  9. Settings and customizations related to screen, mouse, keyboard, etc
  10. Backup Settings

To see what all features are synced or to change sync preferences, open Charms bar from Start Screen and go to PC Settings. Then click on OneDrive and then on Sync. You will be allowed to choose what all you wish to sync.

You have to opt sync by moving the slider to ON in the first option that is labeled: “Sync your Settings on this PC“. If the option is turned OFF, Windows will not synchronize your settings, features, etc. to that computer.

Sync Windows settings across devices

Sync Windows 8.1 settings

You will be able to chose what you want to sync via PC Settings, as shown above in the image.

If you are installing Windows 8.1, during the setup up process with your Microsoft account, you will be offered to select to copy one of your synced settings from any Windows 8.1 device.

Since the features, app info, and other items are synced to the OneDrive associated with your login email ID; you just have to set up accounts on other computers with the same email ID. Once that is done, you will see that your settings from the other computer are copied to the current computer user account. You can use the email ID on as many computers as you want. That way, each of the computers with the same email ID will have the same features, apps, and other customizations.

That explains how to sync Windows 8.1 settings across different computers so that each of the computers has the same set of apps and other customizations.

If you wish, you can disable Sync Settings in Windows for Multiple Users and Turn Off and Remove OneDrive Sync Data in Windows.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

5 Comments

  1. lidivaskey

    I just bought a laptop recently with windows 10. Someone else set it up for me with the same email address I use to login to my current Windows 8 computer but none of the settings have synchronized from my Windows 8 laptop. I am very frustrated and have tried to change different settings with no luck. Any advice?

  2. Arun Kumar

    Windows 10 will not receive what was synced in Windows 8.1/8/7. You will have to do it manually.
    Also, the apps in Windows 10 will not be synced so you may want to make a disk image after installing all your apps. The only things synced are Edge and IE favorites and history. I agree that it is frustrating to have to tweak all settings manually.

  3. TheUnscented

    Wow, what a powerful tool. We have a software company and have a customer that wants me to also supply pre-configured computers. Is this the fastest way to configure: numbers lock ON at start up, disable lock screen, enable log on w/o password, boot to desktop etc on multiple computers? If I install .NET 3.5 and my software, will it automatically install on all? Will those settings stay if I then convert to a local account (to make it impossible for a user to inadvertently change settings for other computers)?

  4. Caitlin Cat O'Donovan Carter

    I have a desktop and a laptop, both 8.1. I hadn’t used the laptop in a while. I have set the sync function as described, but they’re both still different. I’ve used the sync setting in the past, and it worked. I turned it off to try WIndows 10 on my desktop, but I didn’t care for it so I restored 8.1 Is this why the sync won’t work now?

  5. Mike Melvyn

    Windows 10 is junk
    I rather use Windows 7 SP1 Pro or Ultimate not Home Premium I love Windows 8.1 core however its annoying because my device setup menu when you install to copy settings is tricky I rather not deal with that part Windows 8.1 otherwise is wonderful no problems what so ever

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