No support tech wants to spend his or her days constantly cleaning up end-user desktop messes. To prevent end users from tampering with a workstation’s Windows configuration, PCs in open environments, such as computer labs, should be locked down with user rights and group policies.

In a recent Technical Q&A post, TechRepublic member rohan_r asked how to restrict user access to the Windows Context menu, which is produced by right-clicking on the desktop or taskbar. This member works at a middle school and wants to configure the group policy settings to prevent users from making settings changes.

In a previous article, I examined group policy settings in Windows XP and 2000 and how to disable/reenable access to Task Manager by either editing the system registry or changing the system’s group policy settings. You can use these same procedures to disable access to the Context menu.

Disable the Context menu via group policy settings
In Windows 2000, perform the following steps to get to the Disable Context Menus For The Taskbar option (see Figure A):

  1. Click Start; select Run.
  2. Type gpedit.msc in the command line.
  3. Select User Configuration | Administrative Templates | Start Menu & Taskbar | Disable Context Menus For The Taskbar.

Figure A
The Windows 2000 Group Policy menu

Disable the Context menu via a registry edit
As an alternative, popeye_doyle suggested making an edit to the system registry (see Figures B, C, and D). He provided the following instructions:

  1. Start the Registry Editor by typing regedit.exe in the Windows command line.
  2. Move to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ Policies\Explorer.
  3. From the Edit menu, select New DWORD Value.
  4. Enter the name NoViewContextMenu and press [Enter].
  5. Double-click the new value, set the value to 1, and choose OK.
  6. Close the Registry Editor.
  7. Log out.
  8. Log back in.

Figure B
Make this registry edit to disable the Windows Context menu.

Figure C
Select New DWORD Value.

Figure D
Set the NoViewContextMenu value to 1.

Employing either of these two options will restrict user access to the Windows Context menu. The example given applies to Windows 2000, but similar edits can be made in Windows XP. The path you follow in the group policy tool and registry key might vary slightly, but the steps are basically the same. In addition to the Disable Context Menu option, a bevy of other user restrictions can be created using similar techniques. Such changes can be very handy for administrators like rohan_r who need to carefully regulate user access and privileges.