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Disable Set Program Access & Computer Defaults

A somewhat hidden feature on the Windows platform that's been around since the official release of Windows Vista, Is named Set Program Access and Computer Defaults. As the name Implies, It basically allows you to specify the types of default programs for certain tasks, such as web browsing and sending emails. This also means that other users sharing your PC, can do the same and perhaps apply unwanted changes. As such, In this tutorial, I will show you how to securely disable Set Program Access and Computer Defaults with Incredible ease.

Before I begin, here's what I'm referring to. In order to access the feature, you need to navigate to Control Panel > Programs > Default Programs > Set Program Access and Computer Defaults. You will then see the following window as per the Image below.

There are three options to choose from- Microsoft Windows, Non-Microsoft and Custom. The first one (Microsoft Windows), sets the default programs that come pre-Installed with Windows. The Non-Microsoft option, Is exactly that, programs not relative to Microsoft will be defaulted. And the last Is pretty much self-explanatory. It allows you to choose custom programs.

Whilst this serves Its purpose well for the PC's owner (yourself), anyone with unauthorized access or perhaps users who're sharing your computer, can mess up your program's settings and configurations. To prevent this, I will demonstrate how to securely disable It, by using the good old Group Policy Editor.

Do note that the GPE Is only available In Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Education editions. If you're running either of these, then this tutorial Is for you. So without further delay, let's get this started.

Step One: 

The first thing you need to do, Is access the Group Policy Editor. Open the Run menu, enter gpedit.msc and hit OK as shown below.

Step Two:

The Group Policy Editor will now open, so navigate to the following directory.
User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Programs

Make sure the Programs folder Is selected and on the right pane, double-click Hide "Set Program Access and Computer Defaults" page.

Step Three:

To the left of the window, click the Enabled radio button, and then hit OK to finalize the process. The feature has now been disabled. Let's make sure It's taken effect, by trying to access It In the next couple of steps.

Step Four:

I've now navigated to Control Panel > Programs > Default Programs. I'll click on the Set program access and computer defaults link, and see what happens.

Last Step:

As expected and as you can see, a message has been returned confirming that the feature has been disabled by the system administrator. Perfect!

Final Thoughts:

The thing I like about working with the Group Policy Editor, Is that for the most part, the changes take effect there and then, without the need to reboot your computer. Another advantage, Is that the majority of average computational users are unaware of Its existence, and that's what makes It a powerful utility to work with.

To undo the change and have the Set program access and computer defaults feature functioning as per Its default state, simply refer to Step Three above, and select the Not Configured radio button. Don't forget to hit OK on exit.


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