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I need to make a copy of the master page in sp 2010. where is it located? (I dont have SP Designer so that's not an option).

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It's in the 14 hive at: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS

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r u certain? b/c there are no files with .master ext. – Roxanne Apr 28 '11 at 19:46
Yup, there's a v4.master in my layouts directory. – James Love Apr 28 '11 at 19:52
careful messing with these files. They belong to Microsoft, not you! Always take copies and work with those... – Anders Rask Apr 28 '11 at 20:33

You can navigate to the master page gallery via the root site Site Actions>Site Settings>(Galleries)Master pages and page layouts. Then select the master page file you want and click Download a Copy from the ribbon.

The url for the master page gallery is: http://server/_catalogs/masterpage

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