How to Access the Group Policy Editor, Even in Windows Home & Settings to Try

Group Policy is a power tool that allows you to configure your system, unlock features like Hibernation, and block others like Windows-generated notifications. Group Policy Management is only found in the Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows and may be one reason to upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Pro.

But if you don’t want to upgrade, you can still take advantage of this great tool if you know ow to access it. We will show you how to install a Group Policy Editor (GPE) on your Windows Home edition, how to access GPE on all other editions, and some useful Group Policies to customize your Windows setup.

Group Policy Basics

How to Open the Local Group Policy Editor

You can access the Local Group Policy Editor in several different ways. Here are the two most convenient ones:

  1. Press the Windows key to open the search bar or, if you’re using Windows 10, press Windows key + Q to summon Cortana, enter gpedit.msc, and open the respective result.
  2. Press Windows key + R to open the Run menu, enter gpedit.msc, and hit Enter to launch the Local Group Policy Editor.

If this doesn’t work, you either don’t have Administrator priviledges or you’re running Windows Home.

How to Install the GPE in Windows Home

Whether you’re on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 Home, you can use a third-party tool to get access to the GPE. The proper installation requires a couple of tweaks. You might also need to install the NET Framework 3.5.

First, head to C:\Windows\SysWOW64 and copy these items:

  • GroupPolicy foler
  • GroupPolicyUsers folder
  • gpedit.msc file

Then open C:\Windows\System32 and paste the items you just copied.

Now download the Add GPEDIT.msc ZIP file from DeviantArt user Drudger and install it on your computer. Following installation, you will find the tool under C:\Windows\Temp\gpedit.

Add GPEDIT

If your Windows username contains more than one word, you might have to adjust your installation. Right-click x64.bat or x86.bat, depending on whether your system is 64-bit or 32-bit, and select Open with… > Notepad or Edit (Windows 10). Add quotes to the six instances of %username%, i.e. change %username% to “%username%”, save your changes, then right-click the bat file again, and select Run as administrator.

If you continue to get the “MMC could not create snap-in” error, try replacing “%username” with “%userdomain%\%username%”.

5 Powerful Group Policy Tweaks

1. Stop Windows From Asking How to Open a File

Applies to: Windows 8.1, Windows 10

Has Windows ever asked you how you want to open a file?

How to Open File

This notification comes up when you open a file that is supported by a newly installed application. It allows you to quickly switch the file type association and can be a helpful feature while you’re still setting up your computer. But once you have installed and configured all your favorite applications, the notification can turn into a nuisance. Here’s where you can find the group policy to disable it:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer > Do not show the ‘new application installed’ notification

Set the group policy setting to Enabled to never see this notification again.

2. Control the Lock Screen and Logon Image

Applies to: Windows 8.1, Windows 10

You can use Group Policies to adjust the look of your system across user accounts. This particular one controls the lock screen and logon image shown when no users is logged in. You can find it here:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Personalization > Force a specific default lock screen and logon image

Enter the path to the desired lock screen image and click OK. You can also Turn off fun facts, tips, and more on lock screen.

Group Policy Lock Screen and Logon Image

This Group Policy can be used in combination with the “Prevent changing lock screen and login image” setting.

3. Enable Hibernate

Applies to: Windows 8.1, Windows 10

Hibernate is a power-efficient way to rest your computer without losing the current user session. It cuts power to the CPU and RAM and transfers information stored in memory to your disk drive. Since Hibernation requires disk space the size of your RAM, it can be a challenge for smaller drives. It also increases write events to your drive, which isn’t favorable for solid state drives. Finally, the write process makes shutting down to and waking from Hibernation slower than Sleep or Standby. That’s why it’s hidden by default in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

That said, if you need to conserve power, but don’t want to shut your computer down, the Hibernate option is for you.

Power Hibernate

Use this Group Policy to bring up the Hibernate shutdown option in the Start Menu:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer Show hibernate in the power options menu

Enable this setting to get the view shown above.

4. Disable the Action Center

Applies to: Windows 10

The Action Center holds notifications from your system and various applications so that you won’t ever miss an important update or message. We have previously shown you how to customize and disable the Action Center using a registry tweak. You can do the same using a Group Policy and here’s where you can find it:

User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar > Remove Notifications and Action Center

Set the policy to Enabled to remove the Action Center from the notification area in your Taskbar. You have to reboot for the change to come into effect. Note that notifications will still be shown, but you won’t be able to review notifications you have missed.

5. Turn Off the Microsoft Consumer Experience

Applies to: Windows 10

The Microsoft Consumer Experience brings personalized recommendations and Microsoft account notifications to your desktop. This includes the installation of third-party applications, like Candy Crush, and live tiles in your Start Menu that link to third party apps in the Windows Store.

Windows 10 Start Menu Promoted Apps Anniversary Update

To turn off the Microsoft Consumer Experience, open the Local Group Policy Editor and follow this path:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Cloud Content > Turn off Microsoft consumer experiences

Turn Off Microsoft Consumer Experience

The feature is active when this setting is Not Configured or Disabled. Set it to Enabled to opt out of the Microsoft Consumer Experience.

3 Bonus Group Policy Tweaks

We have previously covered Windows customizations that depend on a Group Policy.

  1. You can block users from installing or running software, either by disabling the Windows Installer or by blocking specific applications from running, including the Windows Installer.
  2. A Group Policy also lets you disable OneDrive, both in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.
  3. You can disable forced or scheduled restarts by Windows Update using a Group Policy. If you’re running Windows 10, you should also look into the Group Policies to get notified before downloading updates and delaying updates, as well as to stop automatic driver updates.

Local Group Policy Editor

Level Up With Windows Group Policy

The Group Policy Editor is a treasure trove of powerful Windows settings. Whatever you desire to change about your Windows setup, there’s probably a Group Policy. And now Home users have access to this playground too.

What is your favorite Group Policy setting? Is there something you’re still looking to find a setting for? Share and find answers in the comments!

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