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Understanding Settings and Restrictions

System policies and restrictions for Internet Explorer are a powerful mechanism for improving the control and manageability of computers. System policies and restrictions, which are defined in a policy file, control user and computer access privileges by overriding default registry values when the user logs on.

You can use the Internet Explorer 6 Customization Wizard to define system policies and restrictions and to create a standard Internet Explorer configuration as part of your custom browser package. After the Internet Explorer installation, you can use the IEAK Profile Manager to centrally manage and update system policies and restrictions on your users' desktops. Also, if different groups of users have unique needs, you can use the IEAK Profile Manager to create separate policy (.ins) files for each group.

For example, you might want to implement system policies and restrictions to:

  • Determine the features that users can change, such as Internet Explorer toolbars.

  • Manage bandwidth and control the behavior and appearance of Internet Explorer.

  • Specify server lists for components, such as Microsoft NetMeeting, and set up a page to update your users periodically.

  • Determine which programs are used for electronic mail and for placing Internet calls.

  • Predetermine the user's connection settings. If you need to manage multiple connection settings, consider importing a custom profile from the Connection Manager Administration Kit (CMAK).

For an illustration of this feature, see System Policies and Settings.


  • Settings for the new Internet Explorer 6 Image Toolbar feature include enabling image toolbar hovering, shrinking an image to the size of the screen, and automatically playing media files in the media bar. You can set these options in the Internet settings section of Policies and Restrictions.

Benefits of using system policies and restrictions

Organizations can realize the following benefits from implementing system policies and restrictions:

  • System policies and restrictions enable you to implement a standard Internet Explorer configuration. You can create a custom browser package for your users that includes common settings for browser features and functions.

  • You can restrict the features that users can access within Internet Explorer by using system policies and restrictions. For example, you can preset the NetMeeting options to control audio and video access. Also, you have the option to lock down features and functions, so they either don't appear or appear dimmed on users' desktops.

  • Setting system policies and restrictions enables you to change default registry values. You can use the settings in a policy file to change registry values on multiple computers, eliminating the need to specify settings individually on each user's computer.

Issues to consider before setting system policies and restrictions

Before implementing system policies and restrictions, you should consider the following issues:

  • What types of system policies and restrictions would you like to define and manage centrally? For example, do you want to limit access to NetMeeting features?

  • Do you want to use one set of standard system policies and restrictions for all users and computers, or do you want to create multiple policy files for groups of users? Different groups of users may have unique needs.

  • What types of security settings do you want to implement? You can choose to lock down all the settings, to control the settings but make them available for roaming users to download, or to customize the settings while allowing users to modify them.

    You should consider the impact of these settings, especially if you have roaming users who share computers with other people. For example, what are the implications of removing icons from the desktop or not allowing users to change their security settings? Make sure that your users understand which features they can access.

  • Do you want to store the policy files in a central location or on users' computers? You might want to store the file on a server so that roaming users can access the settings from computer to computer. This capability could be useful, for example, for a user who needs low security settings but who uses a computer that is operated by another person whose security settings are higher.

How to manage policies and restrictions for Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP

All the system policies and restrictions that you can set in the Internet Explorer 6 Customization Wizard and later manage in the IEAK Profile Manager can be configured for users running Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Millennium Edition operating systems.

However, you can only configure a subset of these system policies and restrictions for users without Administrator privileges on the Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP platforms. Instead, it is recommended that you use the Windows NT Policy Editor, Windows 2000, or Windows XP Group Policy to configure the remaining policies and restrictions for those users. For more information, see Administering Microsoft Internet Explorer on Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

Setting and managing policies and restrictions

You can set policies and restrictions in two ways:

To use the Profile Manager, create a new user profile or open an existing profile. Then, expand the folders until you see the setting or restriction that you want to change. You can find more information about each Policies and Restrictions category by clicking the folder for the category.

With automatic configuration, browser settings and restrictions are maintained at the location that you specify in the Internet Explorer 6 Customization Wizard or in the Internet Options dialog box.

To check the automatic configuration settings on your users' computers:

  1. Click the Tools menu in the browser.

  2. Click Internet Options.

  3. Click the Connections tab, and then click LAN Settings.

  4. Verify that the Use automatic configuration script option is selected, and check the path in the Address box.

Creating and managing policies for your custom programs

When using the Internet Explorer 6 Customization Wizard, you can use the policies and restrictions you have set up in your own .adm files by clicking Policy, and then clicking Import. You can find .adm files that you can customize in the appropriate language for the IEAK Policies folder.

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