Policy Editor User Interface

The System Policy Editor requires an .ADM file describing the available policies to use. By default, it will use a file named ADMIN.ADM, but different template files may be specified using the Templates menu.

The main window of the System Policy Editor displays the users and computers that have entries in the policy file that is currently open. To create a new policy file, choose the New command on the File menu. A new policy file contains entries for the default user and default computer. To add entries for particular users or particular computers, use the Add User, Add Group, or Add Computer button. Note that policies for all of the entries shown in the main window are saved to one policy file. Typically, an administrator saves the policy file to the network location where the policy downloader looks by default.

The following illustration shows the main window of the System Policy Editor.


Double-clicking an entry, such as Default Computer, brings up a properties dialog box containing the policies for the entry. The Default Computer Properties dialog box shown in the following illustration has an upper section listing the policies and a lower section showing settings for a specific policy.


A check box in the properties dialog box has three states. If it is checked, the policy will be enforced; that is, the corresponding settings will be added to the registry when the policy is downloaded. If the check box is empty, the settings will be deleted from the registry when the policy is downloaded. If the check box is gray, the registry settings will not be changed when the policy is downloaded; that is, the user has the freedom to choose settings, assuming that the settings can be changed from the user interface.

For example, there is a user policy for desktop wallpaper. By checking that policy, the administrator specifies the particular wallpaper that the user will have. Even if the user uses the Display Control Panel application to change the wallpaper, the wallpaper specified by the administrator will appear the next time he or she logs on. If the administrator unchecks this policy, the wallpaper setting is deleted so that when the user logs on, there is no wallpaper. If the administrator makes the check box gray, nothing is enforced, and the user can choose the wallpaper.

As a second example, there is a user policy "Remove Run from Start menu" (under the Shell/Restrictions registry key). Checking this policy adds a registry setting that tells the shell not to include the Run command on the Start menu. By unchecking this policy, this registry key is deleted, and the shell displays the Run command. If the policy is left gray, the setting will not be changed. If the policy was already in force, it will stay that way, and the Run command will continue to be denied to the user. If the policy had not been applied already, the user would continue to see the Run command. Note that unlike the wallpaper example, the user cannot change this setting by using Control Panel or another user interface element.

The System Policy Editor can also operate directly on the local registry rather than on a policy file. This capability is useful for troubleshooting problems that may be policy-related, because it shows what policies are currently in place for a user on a particular computer. There is no policy file involved in this mode. To switch to the local registry view, use the Open Registry command on the File menu. Note that the check boxes will show only two states, checked and unchecked, because the registry settings for the policy are either present (the policy is on) or not present (the policy is off).

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