A very common task in any domain environment is to deploy desktop shortcuts (icons) to either all of your user’s computers or to a certain group of user’s computers depending on what group(s) the user is a member of.
For this tutorial, our environment consists of the following:
- Windows Server 2012 domain controller
- Windows 8 client
- Both are 64 bit (not needed, but thought I would mention it)
- Want a shortcut to PC-Addicts.com placed on all desktops in the environment
Deploying Desktop Shortcuts to All User’s Computers
The screenshot below is what we will be accomplishing in this tutorial. All computers (and servers) will be getting this new desktop icon shortcut.
Open up Group Policy Management on your Windows Server 2012 box.
- Launch Server Manager
- Click on Tools
- Select Group Policy Management
Expand the tree and right-click on the OU you want this policy to be applied to.
For this example, I want all of the users in the environment to have this shortcut.
Right-click NOTCREATIVE OU and select Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here.
Give the policy a descriptive name so it’s easy to determine exactly what this policy is for.
I am giving this policy the name: Shortcut – PC-Addicts.com. Then press OK.
Now right-click on the newly created and linked policy and select Edit.
In the Group Policy Management Editor window, expand User Configuration | Preferences and click on Shortcuts.
Right-click in the white empty area, select New and then select Shortcut.
On the General tab, fill in the following:
- Name: PC-Addicts.com Website (this is the name that will show up on the shortcut on the desktops)
- Target type: URL
- Location: Desktop
- Target URL: https://pc-addicts.com
Click on the Common tab.
Select Remove this item when it is no longer applied and select OK to the prompt about changing the Action field to ‘Replace’.
What this will do is remove the icon if we delete this policy, or if the user falls out of the OU structure that has this policy applied to it.
In the Description field, I find it best practice to write a short not about the policy. Over time when you start to have a lot of polices, this can save you a lot of time from having to remember or figure out when and why you set the policy.
Here I will write All users shortcut pointing to web address pc-addicts.com. Added 10/3/2012 by CD <– my initials
Then select OK.
Exciting news: We are done!
Jump over to your client machine and open a command prompt (better yet, PowerShell).
Type gpupdate at the prompt.
After a few seconds, you should now see your new shortcut on your desktop.
Removing Deployed Shortcuts
As long as you followed the steps above and selected to Remove this item when it is no longer applied in the policy properties, the following will work.
For this tutorial and testing purposes, we will Delete the policy from the OU, but will not delete the enitre policy. It will still be available for future use if we want to link it to another OU.
In Group Policy Management, right click the policy and select Delete.
If you read the next window that pops up, it’s telling us we are only deleting the link, not the GPO, which is a good thing.
Select OK on the warning.
Now jump back on your client computer, open a command prompt (better yet, PowerShell)
At the prompt, type gpupdate and press Enter.
After a few seconds, your shortcut should disappear.