There is always something satisfying in controlling computer settings with group policies. The key to getting started is finding the gpedit.msc snap-in for your version of Windows 8.
Windows 8 Group Policy Review
- Group Policy Strategies for Windows 8 Clients
- How to Launch the Gpedit.msc Snap-in
- Problem: You Cannot Find Gpedit in Windows 8
- Secpol.msc – Security Policy Editor
- Examples of Windows 8 Group Policy Settings
If your Windows 8 machine is part of an Active Directory domain, then configure the settings via the GPMC on the domain controller. However, if your Windows 8 is in workgroup, HomeGroup, or in a stand-alone configuration then seek out the local group policy editor – gpedit.msc.
Group Policy Tactics
There are three reasons for changing group policy settings; just for fun I give each a personality:
Mr Nasty’s Reasons: to restrict users, for example, ‘Prevent users from adding or removing toolbars’.
Mr Nice’s Reasons: to pamper users, for example to adjust settings that confuse users, such as ‘AutoPlay’ where without a policy their machine would play the wrong media by default.
Mr Luddite: to configure the machine with old settings that were found in previous versions of Windows, but have been replaced, phased out, or deprecated in Windows 8.
- From the Metro UI, type gpedit.msc
From the desktop call for the ‘Search’ charm, type in the dialog box: gpedit.msc
Trap: Many people forget to append the .msc file extension, consequently they cannot find the editor.
- Once gpedit appears in the resultant Apps list, consider right-click, Advanced and ‘Pin to Taskbar’.
- It’s straightforward from now on, launch gpedit and navigating through the Local Computer Policies.
- The most interesting policies are found in the User Configuration, Administrative Templates folders.
- Alternatively, you could research policies from the ‘All Settings’ folder.
If you can rule out a typo, and you remembered that .msc extension, then the most likely reason you cannot see Microsoft’s Windows 8 gpedit.msc is that you have the Home Premium Edition. There has to be some benefit in paying the extra for the Windows 8 Ultimate, or Professional, and getting the Local Group Policy Editor is one of them.
If you cannot get a copy of gpedit.msc, one work-around would be to call for Regedit and change the setting in the registry.
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If media you insert into the computer is not behaving as you wish, then call for gpedit.msc.
Computer Configuration / Administrative Templates /
Windows Components / AutoPlay Policies
Research: Turn off AutoPlay –> Enabled / Disabled.
More Group Policies Settings
- Enforce disk quota limit.
- Require a password when a computer wakes.
- Windows Firewall: Do not allow exceptions.
- Configure automatic updates. (Several options)
- Prevent installation of removable device.
- Disable Chat.
- Lock the Taskbar settings.
- Prevent access to registry editing tools.
- Prohibit user installs.
- Prohibit connection to roaming Mobile Broadband. networks.
- Remove Task manager.
- Turn off autoplay.
- Turn off location.
- Internet Explorer is a fertile area, for example: ‘Disable change proxy settings’.
To take effect many policies need "gpupdate /force", which saves a reboot. From within PowerShell, or from the command prompt issue the instruction thus:
User Policy update has completed successfully.
Computer Policy update has completed successfully.
One use of Gpedit.msc is to link logon scripts to a Group Policy.
You could expand the Computer Configuration, but I prefer to go to the User Configuration, see screenshot:
Naturally, you select ‘Logon’ from the right pane. As ever, if you have an up-to-date operating system such as Windows 8, then configuring is easy. Select the PowerShell Scripts tab, then click on ‘Add…’ and now wire-up your PowerShell.ps1 file to the ‘Scripts’ policy.
Tip: The trick is to copy your logon.ps1 file (into memory) then paste into the location revealed by the ‘Add…’ button. See screenshot above.
The actual location C:\Windows\System32\GroupPolicy\User\Scripts\Logon is a hidden folder. This is one reason the above interface provides a ‘Show Files…’ button. To see the files in Windows Explorer you may need to change the folder view options. See more about PowerShell Logon Scripts.
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If you set your computer to install Windows updates automatically, some of these patches want to reboot your PC, however, it's not convenient.
The benefit of turning-off auto restart is that you have complete control, no interruptions, no loss of unsaved work. The only downside is that you may forget to manually reboot.
Gpedit and UAC
If you visit the Computer Configuration section, and expand Windows Settings, Security Settings and Security Options, then you can examine the UAC policies. For example: User Account Control: Turn on Admin Approval Mode.
Summary of Windows 8 Gpedit.msc – Local Group Policy Editor
Microsoft produces a lovely utility called Local Group Policy Editor so that you can change registry settings conveniently. As with previous Windows operating systems you can inspect and adjust the settings with a snap-in called gpedit.msc.
If won’t find gpedit.msc in Windows 8 Home Premium, this is because it does not exist; you need to upgrade to the Ultimate edition.
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