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Group Policy for Windows Search, Browse, and Organize

Published: May 4, 2009

Updated: April 30, 2009

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows® 7 fully supports registry-based group policy. Administrators can use group policy to apply preferred configurations or policy settings to a set of targeted computers within an Active Directory service environment.

This section covers the following topics:

Overview of Group Policy Features

With some exceptions, previous group policies that configure search and browse behavior have remained in place. Policies unsupported on Windows 7 are still visible in the Windows 7 Group Policy editor snap-in (gpedit.msc), which can be used to create a single Windows 7 administrative template (.admx file) to regulate clients in a mixed environment. Environments with Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP clients can be regulated by one .admx configuration file. Policies that do not apply on a specific client in this environment will be ignored on those clients. Group policies added in Windows 7 for Windows Search and Windows Explorer functionality allow customization of and restrictions for the new added features, in addition to existing features.

Customization IT administrators can now pin customized links to the Search again links at the bottom of Windows Explorer search results, as well as the Start menu. This customization can be controlled through two group policies described later, which allow pinning of library/search connector links and Internet/intranet links. This change gives IT administrators the ability to customize which intranet sites or search repositories that their users have easy access to. Users can re-search a company repository with one click if their initial search on the local machine did not return the desired result.

Privacy The Windows Explorer now shows snippets of file contents by default when returning results and suggests search terms to users based on their search history. However, depending on the enterprise environment, these features may expose data that should remain private. Use group policies if you wish to disable the display of data that should remain private.

New Windows 7 Group Policies

These new Group Policy features are only supported on Windows 7 machines; applying the Windows 7 .admx down-level does not apply these policies to previous versions of Windows or Windows Desktop Search. However, the Windows 7 .admx file can be used to configure clients running previous versions of Windows Desktop Search if older policies are enabled via the Windows 7 Group Policy editor snap-in (even though these policies may be ignored if they do not apply to Windows 7 machines).

The following table lists the Group Policy features available with Windows 7 and links to full policy descriptions, including location, default configuration, purpose, and behavior.

 

Policy Description

Add Search Internet link to the Start menu

Provides easy access points for users to re-scope searches to the default Internet search engine from the Start Menu.

Disable Known Folders

Disables applications from recreating known folders.

Pin Internet search sites to the “Search again” links and the Start menu

Provides easy access points for users to re-send searches to customized Internet or intranet sites from Windows Explorer and the Start menu.

Pin Library and Search Connectors to the “Search again” links and the Start menu

Provides easy access points for users to re-scope searches to customized Library or Search Connector locations from Windows Explorer and the Start menu.

Remove the Search the Internet “Search again” button

Blocks access to Internet search from Windows Explorer.

Remove See More Results/ Search Everywhere link

Hides the See More Results/Search Everywhere link on the Start Menu.

Set OCR languages from a code page

Sets the language code page for indexing TIFF document content, if the TIFF language family differs from the System default language.

Turn off the display of snippets in Content view

Disables showing snippets of file contents by default when a search is returned.

Turn off display of recent search entries in the Windows Explorer Search Box

Disables the display of recent searches and prevents search strings from persisting in the user portion of the registry.

Turn off numerical sorting in Windows Explorer

Uses logical, instead of numerical, sorting of filenames in Windows Explorer.

Turn off Windows Libraries features that rely on indexed file data

Turns off rich library functionality that depends on the availability of indexed file properties and contents.

Add Search Internet link to the Start menu

Location: User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Start Menu and Taskbar

This policy setting lets you add a Search the internet link to the Start menu.

Configuring this policy enables users to search using the default search engine with the search string from the Start menu search box. Results are returned in the default web browser.

Default configuration: This policy is disabled; only the See more results / Search Everywhere link is pinned to the Start menu.

Purpose: This policy should be enabled if you want to provide easy access points for users to re-scope searches using the default Internet search engine from the Start menu.

Disable Known Folders

Location: User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Windows Explorer

This policy setting lets you specify a list of known folders that should be disabled.

You must provide the following information, which can be found on MSDN:

  • The known folder ID, or

  • The canonical ID name

Example: The Sample Videos Known Folder has the known folder ID of {440fcffd-a92b-4739-ae1a-d4a54907c53f} and the canonical ID name of SampleVideos. Specifying a known folder with this policy prevents the underlying file or directory from being created via the known folder API. If the folder exists before the policy is applied, then the folder must be manually deleted because the policy only blocks the creation of the folder.

WarningWarning
Disabling a known folder can introduce application compatibility issues in applications that depend on the existence of the known folder.

Default configuration: This policy is disabled by default; known folders are recreated by applications that use them if the known folder does not already exist.

Purpose: Recreation of known folders by applications may lead to user confusion after manual deletion of these folders. This policy should be enabled if you want to minimize user confusion around known folders being recreated by applications.

Pin Internet search sites to the “Search again” links and the Start menu

Location: User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Windows Explorer

This policy setting lets you add Internet or intranet search site links that can re-search different locations using the search term in the Search box.

You need to specify:

  • A name for the link

  • The URL of the search site in OpenSearch format with {searchTerms} replacing the query string

Example:

  • Site Name 1: Example

  • Site URL 1: http://www.example.com/results.aspx?q={searchTerms}

Configuring this policy allows you to add Internet or intranet sites to:

  • The Search Again links returned at the bottom of Search results in Windows Explorer

  • The links in the Start menu

Clicking these links searches the specified location with the search string from the Windows Explorer or Start menu search box. Results are returned in the default web browser.

noteNote
You can add up to five additional links to the Search Again links at the bottom of results returned in Windows Explorer after a search is executed. These links are shared between Internet search sites and search connectors/libraries. Search connector/library links take precedence over Internet search links.

A total of four links can be pinned on the Start menu. Links are ordered as follows:

  1. The See more results link is pinned first by default, unless it is disabled via Group Policy.

  2. The Search the Internet link is pinned second, if it is pinned via Group Policy.

  3. Any custom Internet search link is pinned third, if it is pinned using the “Custom Internet search provider” Group Policy.

  4. The remaining link(s) are shared between pinned search connectors/libraries and pinned Internet/intranet links, with search connector/library links take precedence.

Default configuration: This policy is disabled; only the default links are pinned to the Search Again links and the Start menu

Purpose: This policy should be enabled if you want to provide easy access points for users to re-scope searches to customized Internet or intranet sites from Windows Explorer and the Start menu. Pinning with this policy enables users to re-execute a search with the string in the Search box in locations deployed by an IT. This policy replaces and extends the Add primary intranet search location and Add secondary intranet search location Group Policies, so links previously pinned using these historical policies should be re-pinned using this new policy.

Pin Library and Search Connectors to the “Search again” links and the Start menu

Location: User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Windows Explorer

This policy setting lets you add five libraries or search connectors to the Search Again links and the Start menu links that can re-search different locations using the search term in the Search box.

You need to specify:

  • The path to and name of the Library Description (.library-ms) or Search Connector Description (.searchConnector-ms) file.

Examples:

  • For a library: Location 1: C:\users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Libraries\sampleLibrary.library-ms

  • For a search connector: Location 1: C:\users\<username>\searches\sampleSearchConnector.searchconnector-ms

ImportantImportant
This policy works only if the specified path is valid and the location contains the specified Library Description or Search Connector Description file.

Configuring this policy enables you to add Internet or intranet sites to:

  • The Search Again links returned at the bottom of Search results in Windows Explorer

  • The links in the Start menu

Clicking on these links searches the specified location with the search string from the Windows Explorer or Start menu search box. Results are returned in Windows Explorer.

noteNote
You can add up to five additional links to the Search Again links which appear at the bottom of results returned in Windows Explorer. These links are shared between Internet search sites and search connectors/libraries. Search connector/library links take precedence over Internet search links.

A total of four links can be pinned on the Start menu. Links are ordered as follows:

  1. The See more results link is pinned first by default, unless it is disabled via Group Policy.

  2. The Search the Internet link is pinned second, if it is pinned via Group Policy.

  3. Any custom Internet search link is pinned third, if it is pinned using the “Custom Internet search provider” Group Policy.

  4. The remaining link(s) are shared between pinned search connectors/libraries and pinned Internet/intranet links, with search connector/library links take precedence.

Default configuration: This policy is disabled; only the default links are pinned to the Search Again links and the Start menu.

Purpose: This policy should be enabled if you want to provide easy access points for users to re-scope searches to customized library or search connector locations from Windows Explorer and the Start menu. Pinning this policy will allow users to re-execute a search with the string in the Search box in locations deployed by an IT administrator using this Group Policy.

Remove See More Results/ Search Everywhere link

Location: User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Start Menu and Taskbar

This policy setting lets you remove the See more results link in the Start menu. If a third-party protocol handler is installed, this link text is Search Everywhere instead of See more results. When clicked, this link opens search results in Windows Explorer.

Default configuration: This policy is disabled; the Search Everywhere / See more results link is pinned to the Start menu.

Purpose: This policy should be enabled if you want to hide this link on the Start menu.

Remove the Search the Internet “Search again” button

Location: User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Windows Explorer

This policy lets you remove the Internet “Search again” button that appears at the bottom of search results returned in Explorer. This button launches the default Internet browser with the search terms.

Default configuration: There is an "Internet" button when the user performs a search in the Explorer window.

Purpose: This policy should be enabled if you want to block access to Internet search from Windows Explorer. This is especially useful in company environments with limited or restricted Internet access, or where sensitive data should not be accidentally routed to Internet search engines.

noteNote
Any restrictions set on internet browsing in your environment continue to apply, even if this link is present.

Set OCR languages from a code page

Location: Computer Configuration – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Search - OCR

ImportantImportant
This Group Policy appears in the Group Policy editor only if you have installed the Windows 7 TIFF IFilter feature.

This policy lets you specify a language code page for TIFF files that are indexed. Specifying a language for TIFF file contents improves the quality of search results in TIFF files in this language and reduce processing speed.

Default configuration: OCR processing of TIFF files uses only the system default language.

Purpose: This policy should be enabled if you have TIFF file content in a language family that differs from the System default language. If this policy is not used, search result quality when searching over TIFF file content from other language dictionaries is degraded and searches are less performant.

Turn off the display of snippets in Content view

Location: User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Windows Explorer

This policy lets you disable the display of file content snippets when Content view is turned on. Content view is the default view returned when a search is executed and shows snippets of content of returned files.

Default configuration: Snippets are displayed in Content view

Purpose: This policy should be enabled if you want to disable showing snippets of file contents by default when a search is returned. This helps users avoid displaying sensitive data accidentally through Windows Explorer searches while in a non-secure environment.

Turn off display of recent search entries in the Windows Explorer Search Box

Location: User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Windows Explorer

This policy lets you disable the display of recent search suggestion pop-ups in the Search box in Windows Explorer and prevents entries into the Search Box from being stored in the registry for future references. Up to 100 recent search strings are stored in the registry and appear as suggestions when the user begins typing into the Windows Explorer search box.

Default Configuration: The Windows Explorer search box stores recent search entries and display up to three previously executed searches as users type into the Search box.

Purpose: This policy should be enabled in your environment if multiple employees share a user name on a machine and recent searches should not be displayed. This policy also prevents search strings from persisting in the user portion of the registry.

Turn off numerical sorting in Windows Explorer

Location: User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Windows Explorer

This policy setting lets you have file names sorted logically (as in Windows XP and earlier) rather than in numerical order. Windows Explorer sorts file names by each digit in its name.

Examples:

Logical sorting with policy enabled: 111.txt< 22.txt < 3.txt

Numerical sorting without policy enabled: 3.txt < 22.txt < 111.txt

Default configuration: Windows Explorer sorts file names by increasing number value.

noteNote
This policy also applies to Vista machines on the network.

Purpose: This policy should be enabled if the logical filename sorting that was present in previous versions of Windows Explorer is preferred.

Turn off Windows Libraries features that rely on indexed file data

Location: User Configuration – Administrative Templates – Windows Components – Windows Explorer

This policy lets you turn off rich library functionality that depends on the availability of indexed file properties and contents. This Group Policy is intended to reduce user confusion and avoid frequent grep searches.

This policy disables:

  • Searching libraries in the Start menu

  • Applying Arrange By views other than “By Folder” and “Clear Changes”

  • Using Library Search Filter suggestions other than “Date Modified” and “Size”

  • Using the “Unsupported” tag in the Library Management dialog

  • Applying rich functionality to user-created Libraries

  • Viewing file content snippets in the “Content” view mode

  • Notifying users that unsupported locations are included in libraries

Default Configuration: Disabled. All Windows libraries features are enabled.

Purpose: This policy should be enabled in your environment if you have known folders redirected to server shares that are not remotely indexed and cannot be synchronized offline and locally cached. The library functionality is severely degraded if this group policy is enabled, even for libraries that do not contain non-indexed files. However, if your environment does not support local indexing, setting this Group Policy reduces user feedback indicating that an unsupported location is included in a library and reduces network impact from grep searches of remote non-indexed locations.

noteNote
This policy applies to all libraries, not only those which include unsupported locations. This policy does not enable unsupported locations to be added to libraries in the Library Management dialog.

Changes to Legacy Group Policies

All of the group policies that apply to Windows Search 4.0 ( http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732491.aspx) still work on down-level machines if the .admx is applied in a mixed environment, with some exceptions.

Add Primary Intranet Search location/ Add Secondary Intranet Search location

These two policies have been removed.

Reason for change and workaround: The same functionality covered by these policies is now covered by the Pin Internet search sites to the “Search again” links and the Start menu policy. If you want these links to be pinned on clients running both Windows 7 and earlier versions of Windows Desktop Search, you need to enable both of these historical policies, as well as the newly added one, in one .admx file.

Preview Pane location

This policy was removed.

Reason for change and workaround: This policy was specific to versions of WDS 2.x, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003. Changes to the Preview Pane functionality in Windows Explorer have made this policy obsolete. The Preview Pane in Windows Explorer can still be disabled using the “Turn off the Preview Pane” Group Policy.Prevent automatically adding shared folders to the index

Reason for change and workaround: On machines with Windows Search 4.0, sharing a folder would automatically index it. This is no longer the case in Windows 7, therefore this policy does not apply to Windows 7 machines.

Deploying Group Policies in Mixed Environments

Policy structures have remained consistent between Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows Search 4.0. To manage an environment that contains Windows 7, Windows Vista, and clients running Windows Search 4.0, you should use the Windows 7 Administrative template (.admx). This template should be configured with all previous policy settings you want to preserve in addition to policies that should be set on Windows 7.

All existing policies from previous versions of Windows or Windows Search are applied to the versions of Windows Search on which they are supported (this information can be found in the “Requirements” detail of specific Group Policies). Policies that do not apply to specific versions of Windows Search are ignored on machines running these unsupported versions.

WarningWarning
Some policies you have previously set may not be supported on Windows 7 due to feature changes; see Changes to Legacy Group Policies for further information.

Policy structures between versions of WDS beyond 3.x (Windows Search 4.0, Windows Vista, and Windows 7) and WDS 2.66 are different, and 2.66 policies do not apply to newer versions (and vice versa). Therefore, to manage an environment that has WDS 2.66 as well as more recent clients, you need to use both the .adm template for WDS 2.66 and the .adm/.admx template for more recent versions.

The Windows 7 Administrative template controls functionality on Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, and machines running Windows Search 4.0.

See Also