With all of our busy lives, it is often easy to overlook new features that can be a life saver in our day-to-day work. Up until recently, I had known about Group Policy preferences, but I hadn’t really started using them extensively. Instead I had a series of scripts, especially for labs that would setup the workstations, a lot of which was cleaning up desktops, placing the correct shortcuts, etc …

Today, I decided to finally get into GPO Preferences, and implement them in a lab as a pilot.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I decided to try a slightly different format today, and make a screen cast of  what I wanted to demonstrate in the post. I would appreciate if you can let me know in the comments if this is easier to follow than instructions, as I hope to make a more screen cast based posts in the future if these tend to be more popular.

Before I leave you to the video, here’s a little walk through for what we’ll be doing:

GPO preferences are quite large actually, and their potential is only limited by your imagination. In this video we will be looking at the tip of the iceberg, only dealing with a GPO for creating a folder on a target machine, and some shortcuts. If you can do this, however, then you can equally use pretty much all the rest of the prefs. The best part about this however, is that, though the GPO prefs are a feature of GPMC in Windows 7, you are able to use those prefs to apply them to a Windows XP workstation. All paths and locations can be references by environment variables, so you don’t have to worry about the location of the All Users desktop on XP and 7, etc …

Here, I will be showing a simple creation of a folder with some shortcuts in it, for a scenario of a lab which may have some application coming in and out at different times. I will show you how to add a shortcut, and then disable it from the GPO, thereby immediately removing it from the workstation. A simple task that would, in a different scenario take quite a bit of work to accomplish on some 35 machines in a lab.



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