Outlook restrictions? Check the registry

If you didn't set them, then it's probably a damaged registry key.

Many behaviors in Windows can be restricted or modified through the use of administrative policies. For instance,

opening the Internet Properties window through Internet Explorer can be restricted to prevent users from changing proxy or security settings. If this restriction is set up, the user receives this error when he tries to open Internet Properties: "This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator."

This same message, however, can be generated under conditions that have nothing to do with administrative restrictions. One common problem of this nature happens with versions of Outlook 2000 and later, when a user attempts to click on a link in an HTML e-mail and receives the above-mentioned warning.

This may lead users to think that a certain administrative permission has been set preventing them from launching links from Outlook—and it's not hard to see why an administrator might find such a thing to be a good idea. So you can set administrative restrictions to cause exactly this error message. But, unfortunately, if such an error turns up and you are sure no such restriction has been set, you may be led on a wild-goose chase to find the offending policy setting.

This notice may be, in fact, not the result of a policy, but a damaged Registry key. Users who upgrade to Internet Explorer 6.0 may have the key

HKEY_Local_Machine\Software\Classes\htmlfile\shell\open\command

damaged or removed. This key should contain a (Default) value of type REG_SZ:

"E:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe" -nohome

If the key isn't present, then it needs to be re-entered. One quick way to do this is to export it from another machine not experiencing this symptom and import it on the target machine.

The same problem may be responsible for a slew of other symptoms on similarly damaged machines. Some of these problems may also appear to be due to an improperly set administrative permission.


Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter. Check out his Windows 2000 blog for his latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators – please share your thoughts as well!


This was first published in November 2003

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