Server 2012 – Remove Network Icon from File Explorer Navigation Pane via Group Policy

After much research, some poking around in the registry, and a little dumb luck, I’ve discovered a way to disable the Network icon from the left side of the File Explorer navigation pane on a PER USER basis using Group Policy Registry Preferences.

Basically, I borrowed the concept from other posts and made it work for the current user profile. One problem that I ran into trying to use the HKLM key was that I couldn’t update the key using the SYSTEM account via Group Policy and I didn’t want to manually edit registry permissions on a bunch of RDS Servers. On top of that, more importantly, I didn’t want to disable the Network icon for my administrator accounts too! So here’s what you need to do… Continue reading “Server 2012 – Remove Network Icon from File Explorer Navigation Pane via Group Policy”

Classic Shell – Registry Entries for Custom Windows 7 Style Start Menu

When applying the Classic Shell Group Policy Templates in Windows 2012 RDS, there is an option called “Menu items for the Windows 7 Style”. In order to customize the menu items, you first need to make changes to some user profile that is using Classic Shell and then go and retrieve the entries from the HKCU\Software\IvoSoft\ClassicStartMenu\Settings\MenuItems7 key in the Registry to know what to enter there. Even on the Classic Shell forums, they didn’t have it documented so here goes…

First, you should have a list of entries titled “Items(1-23).Command=” followed by the friendly name of the item.


Following each one of those entires, you may or may not have an additional entry for each item titled “Items(1-23).Settings=” followed by one or more of the display options depending on how you want it displayed.


As of Classic Shell version 4.1, here is a list of the Command names and their descriptions:

admin - %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Administrative Tools
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Server 2012 – Remove Pinned Items on the Taskbar via Group Policy

I have researched for hours and hours and have looked into numerous different solutions on how to remove pinned items from the taskbar in Server 2012 and have not really found an elegant solution to the problem. Microsoft intentionally made it an extremely ridiculous and convoluted process to be able to add and remove pinned items from the taskbar. I guess it was meant to help prevent it from getting all fuckered up but for christ’s sake, I shouldn’t have to jump through effing hoops just to do such a seemingly rudimentary task.

Part of my particular issue lies in the fact that I’m setting up a completely locked down 2012 RDS environment where the users don’t even have access to the command prompt, powershell, or the ability to run VB scripts. This alone rules out almost every solution out there that I’ve found.

I have even gotten to the point of where I tried using Group Policy Preferences to create a HKCU RunOnce key to run a batch file to delete the necessary files, add the proper registry keys, kill the explorer.exe process, but then I can’t start explorer again without using cmd.exe and I don’t want the user to have to log off and back on again and we can just have a missing shortcut sitting in the freaking taskbar, it confuses people. WTF!!!
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Windows Terminal Server – Three Ways to Disable AVG Tray Icon via Group Policy

I scoured the internet forever and a day to find a way to disable the AVG tray icon in a Windows Terminal Server environment because as with most people, even though to make any major changes in the AVG settings it does require an admin password, I didn’t want my users to be able to toy around in there even, let alone run a bunch of malicious scans and slow the server down for everybody or gain access to view our AVG Business license key. I even contacted AVG technical support and they didn’t have a solution to my problem and I find it extremely hard to believe that I am the only person out there in the world facing this issue.

Well, today I finally figured out a way to disable the AVG tray icon via Group Policy using Software Restriction Policies. By creating a rule to prevent the running of the “avgui.exe” process, you can essentially disable the tray icon. As long as you have your group policies structured so that your users OU get a different group policy than say the admins OU, then the admins can still get into AVG, run any scans, or change any settings inside AVG. I guess I should mention that you could use this for any OU for that matter that you didn’t want to have access to the AVG UI, it’s not just limited to Remote Desktop Servers. Pretty sweet!
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