How to Find and Use the Group Policy Editor in Windows 10

Apply detailed settings to your Windows computer

This article provides instructions for finding and using the Group Policy Editor, including how to open it and what you can do with it.

Opening the Local Group Policy Editor

When it comes to configuring Windows 10, some things are easier than others. For example, setting up and activating a wireless connection is easy with the taskbar notification area and the Settings app. But did you know you could prevent all users of a computer from accessing a CD-ROM drive? You can, and the Local Group Policy Editor is a way to do it.

The first thing you should know is that the Local Group Policy Editor is only available in the Professional and Enterprise versions of Windows 10. So before you try the steps below, check to make sure you have one of these and not the Home version.

If you're good to go, use one of the below methods to open the Local Group Policy Editor.

  1. Click the Start menu, type run, then select the Run app. (Alternately, press Win + R).

    Viewing the Run App from the Windows Start Menu
  2. Enter gpedit.msc in the box, then click OK.

    Starting the Group Policy Editory from the Windows Run App
  3. You can also launch it from within the Control Panel. You'll find it listed as Edit group policy under the Administrative Tools section (try searching for "group policy").

    Searching for the Local Group Policy Editor in Control Panel
  4. Finally, you can start the Local Group Policy Editor program itself from the C:\Windows\System32\ directory. Just double-click it from here as usual.

    The Windows 10 Local Group Policy Editor

What Is the Local Group Policy Editor?

The Local Group Policy Editor allows you to set configurations for a Windows 10 machine. Now, Windows has lots of tools that enable you to do this, so where does this one fit? One way to think of it is in terms of ease of use. For example, the Settings app is arguably the most accessible Windows configurator, with its large text and targeted options. But you've probably been in a situation where you can't find what you want in Settings, and need to open up Control Panel, one step up in both functionality and complexity. A very functional (and therefore complex) tool is the Registry Editor, which requires you to find cryptic key names and change values manually.

The Local Group Policy Editor sits between Control Panel and the Registry Editor on this scale. You can do things here that you can't in Control Panel, such as applying system-wide changes and removing options from built-in applications such as File Explorer. You can make changes like this in Registry Editor as well, but the difference is that Local Group Policy Editor gives you nice graphical controls for the options it supports.

So What Can You Do With the Local Group Policy Editor?

To list all the capabilities available through Local Group Policy Editor is beyond this article's scope, or really, any single piece. But you can explore the options here, and we'll walk through one example of its use to demonstrate how to use it.

  1. You'll see a panel with two folders on the left-hand side: Computer Configuration and User Configuration. As you might guess, these allow you to change settings for either the entire machine (i.e., all users) or individual users, respectively. Click on the arrow to expand one or both of these.

    Expanding the Policy Folders in the Windows 10 Local Group Policy Editor
  2. Each top-level group has three sub-groups underneath: Software Settings, Windows Settings, and Administrative Templates. The first two options allow you to set configurations for either installed applications or built-in ones. Administrative Templates contains options to control OS-level functions, such as Windows Components or the Start Menu and Taskbar. Select the latter from the User Configuration section.

    Windows Control Panel with "Start Menu and Taskbar" highlighted
  3. On the right, you'll see all the options you have available. Double-click the one called Remove Documents icon from Start Menu.

    Windows Control Panel with "Remove Documents from Start Menu" highlighted
  4. This option will display a dialog explaining what the setting will do. In the upper-left corner, there's a set of three radio buttons: Not Configured (no change made so that the system will use the default), Enabled (the policy is applied, i.e., in this case, enabling it removes the icon), and Disabled (the policy is not applied, which can override a setting at the system level, for example). Select Enabled, then click OK. On your next startup, the Documents icon will not appear on the Start Menu's left-hand side.

    Remove Documents icon from Start Menu Local Group Policy Dialog with "enabled" and "OK" highlighted
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