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Group Policy Settings (part 3) - Searching Group Policy

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6/9/2011 9:34:41 AM

5. Searching Group Policy

One of the strengths of Group Policy also becomes one of its weaknesses. Just about anything you want to manage or restrict for users and computers in a domain can be done with Group Policy. However, locating the setting that you need can be a challenge.

Thankfully, the GPMC that comes with Windows Server 2008 and newer versions includes a search feature. You can use this to search through the Administrative Templates node. As a reminder, the Administrative Templates node includes settings that will modify the Registry. This node is frequently used to control the user desktop and environment.

You can filter Administrative Template Group Policy settings based on properties, keywords, or requirements. Figure 6 shows the search screen. You can access this screen by right-clicking Administrative Templates in the Group Policy Object Editor and selecting Filter Options.

Figure 6. Group Policy Filter Options

You can remove the filter by right-clicking Administrative Templates and selecting Filter On. The Filter On selection can be toggled on or off and will have a checkmark when enabled.

5.1. Searching Group Policy on Properties

You can filter the viewable Group Policy settings based on one of three properties. Each of these settings allows you to choose Yes, No, or Any:


Managed

When you select Yes, only managed settings are shown. Most Group Policy settings are managed, so this doesn't have much effect. An unmanaged Group Policy setting is typically used to set preferences for an operating system component.


Configured

Selecting Yes for this setting allows you to filter the view based on Group Policy settings that are set to Enabled or Disabled. If the Group Policy setting is set to Not Configured, it is not shown when the setting is set to Yes.


Commented

Administrators can add comments to any GPOs. These comments can be useful in the future if you're trying to remember why you configured a specific setting six months earlier. Selecting Yes for Commented shows only the GPOs that have comments.

These filters can be used together. For example, if you want to see only the configured settings that include comments, you can select Yes for Configured and Yes for Commented. Only the settings that include both selections will be included when the settings are combined.

5.2. Searching Group Policy on Keywords

The Keyword Filter allows you to enter any text to search for a relevant Group Policy. This is very useful if you have an idea of what you want to do but just can't find the setting.

As an example, you may want to manipulate user profiles but can't find the settings. You can enter User Profiles as the words to search. By default, the filter will search for any occurrence of your search word or phrase in the following:

  • Policy Setting Title

  • Help Text

  • Comments

You can deselect any of these choices to limit the search.

5.3. Searching Group Policy on Requirements

The explanation of each Group Policy setting in the Administrative Templates node includes a Supported On section. Some are supported on Windows 2000 and above, some only on Windows 7, and others on a mixture of operating systems. Some settings apply only to applications such as Internet Explorer, and these settings identify the version of the application where the setting is supported.

You can use the Requirements Filters to search based on the different operating systems or applications. Filters are provided for the following:


Windows 2000 family

You can choose Windows 2000 without a service pack or with SP1, SP2, SP3, or SP4.


Windows XP

You can choose Windows XP without a service pack or with SP1 or SP2.


Windows Vista

You can choose Windows Vista without a service pack or with SP1.


Windows 7 family

Currently, only Windows 7 is available, but as service packs are released, these will likely be included if the Administrative Templates are updated.


Windows Server 2003

You can choose Windows Server 2003 without a service pack or with SP1 or SP2. You can also choose Windows Server 2003 R2.


Windows Server 2008

This includes the options of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.


BITS

Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) versions 1.5, 2.0, and 3.5 can be selected.


Internet Explorer

Versions 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 6.0, 7.0, and 8.0 can be selected.


Net Meeting

Version 3.0 is included.


Windows Installer

Versions 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0 can be selected.


Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player 8, 9, 10, and 11 can all be selected.

Figure 7 shows the Group Policy Management Editor with a filter enabled for Internet Explorer 8.0 settings. Many of the nodes that normally appear under Administrative Templates are not showing because they don't match the filter. You can also see an icon of a filter on the Administrative Templates nodes, which indicates that the filter is on.

Figure 7. Group Policy Management Editor with a filter enabled

When searching with the Requirements Filters, you can choose to include settings that match any of the selected platforms or those that match all of the selected platforms. For example, if you want to view only the settings that apply to Windows Vista or Windows 7, you can select these two families as the requirement and select Include Settings That Match Any Of The Selected Platforms.

Exercise: Using a Filter to Locate Group Policy Settings

  1. Launch the Local Group Policy Editor by clicking Start, typing in Group, and selecting Edit Group Policy.

  2. Browse to the Computer Configuration => Administrative Templates node. When you select the Administrative Templates node, an icon that looks like a funnel will appear on the editor's toolbar. This is the Filter icon. Also notice that there are five nodes within Administrative Templates (six if you count the All Settings node).

  3. Right-click Administrative Templates, and select Filter Options.

  4. Select Enable Keyword Filters. Ensure that Policy Setting Title, Help Text, and Comment are all checked. Type in Profiles and click OK.

  5. The filter will be enabled, and only the System node and the Windows Components nodes will be showing.

  6. Select each of the nodes to see the available settings. Only settings with the word Profiles in the settings title, help text, or comment sections are included.

  7. Right-click Administrative Templates and select Filter On. This will toggle the filter so that it is off. All of the Group Policy settings will reappear.

  8. Right-click Administrative Templates, and select Filter Options.

  9. Deselect the check box for Enable Keyword Filters.

  10. Select Enable Requirements Filters. Select Internet Explorer 8.0 and click OK. Only the settings that apply to Internet Explorer version 8.0 will appear.

  11. Click the filter icon on the toolbar. The filter will be removed.

Other -----------------
- Group Policy Settings (part 2) - Deploying an Application via Group Policy & AppLocker
- Group Policy Settings (part 1) - Managing User Profiles with Group Policy & Logon and Startup Scripts
- Group Policy and the GPMC (part 3) - Advanced Group Policy Settings
- Group Policy and the GPMC (part 2) - RSAT and the Group Policy Management Console
- Group Policy and the GPMC (part 1) - Enabling a GPO Setting & Applying Multiple GPOs
- Managing Windows 7 in a Domain : Anti-Malware Software
- Managing Windows 7 in a Domain : Understanding User Profiles (part 2)
- Managing Windows 7 in a Domain : Understanding User Profiles (part 1) - Standard Profiles & Roaming Profiles
- Managing Windows 7 in a Domain : Identifying and Resolving Logon Issues
- Managing Windows 7 in a Domain : Authentication vs Authorization
 
 
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