One of the tricky things about managing Favourites for users on a network is that it’s a nightmare to easily deal with the varied requirements of users.
Generally, you would set up favourites on a Windows network to do one of the following:
- Leave them as they are. Users can add and remove their own favourite websites
- Redirect favourites to a shared location with a registry hack – but users lose their personal favourites
- Add favourites through Group Policy – but you need a network admin to do this whenever something needs to be added.
Now, there’s a groovier, sexier way to do it. You can finally have your cake and eat it. The best part (or worst part depending on your point of view) is – the solution has been there all along.
Before We Start
- A Windows-2000 based network with group policy enabled, and an Organsational Unit with user accounts inside.
- The Group Policy Management Console installed on either the server or a workstation that you will use
- Administrator Rights
You also need to ask yourself who will have the rights to add shared favourites. This is fairly important, so consider it sensibly.
First of all, log on to a server and run the Active Directory Users and Computers console.
Somewhere in the AD structure, create a new security group called ‘FavouriteManagers’. Next add the users who you want to allow to change favourites to this group. If you don’t mind who changes the favourites, you can skip this step.
This is the group who will be allowed to add favourites to the users. Once you’re done here, and you are happy with the users who are set up in this group – we can set up the tool.
Setting Up the Group Policy to Allow Favourites to be Modified
Log onto your server / workstation as an administrator and do the following:
- Open up the Group Policy Management Console, and find the OU where the user accounts you want to control are.
- Right-click on the OU and select, Create and Link a GPO here… Call the new policy ManageFavourites.
- Now click on the new policy, and click on the Delegation tab. Click Add… and add the FavouriteManagers group to have edit access
- Click on the Details tab, and select Computer Configuration Settings Disabled from the drop down list. This will ensure that the logon times are kept brief for users.
- Close the Group Policy Management Console.
Create the Change Favourites
- Open a new Microsoft Management Colsole (Start > Run > type mmc > click OK)
- Click File > Add/Remove Snap-in
- Click Add…
- Click Group Policy Object Editor and click Add
- Click Browse, then All, double-click on the ManageFavourites policy.
- Click Finish. Click Close.
- Click on the Extensions tab and select Group Policy Object Editor from the dropdown list.
- Untick the Add all extensions checkbox. Then deselect all but the Internet Explorer
- Click OK.
- Expand the tree to User Configuration > Windows Settings > Internet Explorer Maintenance.
- Right-click on URLs and select New Window from Here
- Close the Console Root window so that only the URL window is visible.
- Click File > Options
- Give the console a title, I have called mine Favourite-o-matic. Under Console Mode, select User mode – limited access, single window. If you want to, you can change the icon to a more user friendly icon. I like the windows Favourite icon from shell32.
- Click OK to close the options dialog.
- Click File > Save and save the new console to a share where all of your Favourite Managers can access it. Set up the appropriate links on the start menu / desktop and you’re all done.
Using the Console
All you now need to do is let users know how to add favourites. You can do this by double-clicking on Favourites and Links, and typing links into the tool. You can also organise the favourites into folders to make them easier to manage.
The only caveat is that when you remove a link, it will not take the link from the user’s Favourites folder. This would still have to be deleted manually. Bear this in mind when you go nuts with all of your new favourite links.