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Use Group Policy to add Shortcuts to Your Windows Servers

Use Group Policy to add Shortcuts to Your Windows Servers

April 07, 2014

Windows Server 2012 is a phenomenal product and provides a fantastic set of features and capabilities for all types of computing environments.  While Windows Server 2012 includes many features shared with Windows 8, one feature that tends to frustrate Administrators is the tile interface or “Start” screen menu.  When switching to the “Desktop” view, it can be a little confusing trying to locate the “Sign out” or “Log off” command links.  This is where you can step in and take control using Group Policy and add desktop shortcuts with just a few clicks.  Here’s how:

  1. Create a new Group Policy Object
  2. Edit the GPO, expand Computer Configuration / Preferences / Windows Settings / Shortcuts
  3. Right-click on Shortcuts and select New -> Shortcut
  4. Select Action = Update
  5. Name = “Log Off”
  6. Location = “All Users Desktop”
  7. Target Path = “Computer / C:\Windows\System32\logoff.exe”
  8. Arguments = (empty)
  9. Icon File Path = (select whatever you like.  I like the orange key icon)
  10. Link the GPO to the OU which contains the servers you wish to apply it to.

After the GPO is created, you may want to right-click on the “User Settings” and disable them to avoid processing overhead when applied to each targeted computer.  The next step is to link the GPO to the appropriate OU and run an update to verify the results.

  1. In the GPMC console, select the OU you wish to link the GPO to (e.g. “Domain Controllers”)
  2. Right-click on the OU and select “Link existing GPO” and select the GPO you created.
  3. Right-click again on the OU and select “Group Policy update…”  (this invokes a GPUPDATE on every computer in the OU without having to log onto each one and do that individually)

After this is done, log onto one or two of the computer which reside in that OU to verify the shortcuts are displayed.  You can use this same process to add shortcuts to any other Windows computers as well as targeting to users or groups.

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