Manage desktop themes through GPOs

In some organizations, controlling details of the user desktop is an important aspect of maintaining a productive IT environment. Depending on the nature of the organization and the work tasks of the users, it may be desirable strictly to control desktop themes. For example, if you have a situation where workers move among different desktops, and you want them to have a consistent user experience on each desktop they use, you need to control the desktop themes.

The Desktop Themes controls are within the User Configuration section of the GPO in the Administrative Templates, Control Panel, Display, Desktop Themes folder.

The Remove Theme option control removes the Themes tab from the Display applet. With this control enabled, users cannot alter the theme of the desktop. The theme that existed at the time this control is enabled remains fixed until this control is disabled.

The Prevent selection of windows and buttons style control restricts users from altering the style of windows and buttons displayed on the desktop. Enabled, this control disables the "Windows and buttons" drop-down selection list control on the Appearance tab of the Display applet.

The Prohibit selection of font size control stops users from altering the font sizes of characters displayed on the screen by the OS. With this control enabled, the "Font size" drop-down selection list control on the Appearance tab of the Display applet is disabled.

The Prohibit Theme

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color selection control restricts users from altering the color selections for the window and screen elements. Enabling this control means color selection controls on all tabs of the Display applet are disabled.

The Load a specific visual style file or force Windows Classic control forces a visual style to be applied to the user's desktop. The visual style is indicated by either a local filename or a UNC. The visual style's file should have an .msstyles extension. Enabling this control stops users from changing the visual styling of the desktop.

James Michael Stewart is a partner and researcher for Itinfopros, a technology-focused writing and training organization.

This was first published in January 2003

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