Thursday, April 21, 2016

Customizing your Mouse Cursor Using Group Policy Preferences

When helping the young, the old, or the visually impaired, it may be important to make sure that your users start off with a larger cursor. In an Windows Active Directory environment this can be done using Group Policy, but in the past required configuration of the registry using some sort of logon script. Many scripts can now be replaced by the use of Group Policy Preferences, which makes the whole process much easier!

You can watch me set this up step by step on video here:

Or here's how to do it step by step:

1) Configure your mouse cursor settings using the control panel on a test machine

We're going to suck these settings out of the test machine and into Group Policy Preferences!

2) Open the Group Policy Management Console on a domain controller or a workstation where the RSAT tools for AD have been installed and create or edit a Group Policy is linked to the right OU to affect the desired users (or link it to the domain to affect all users)
Remember to link your GPO to the right node in AD

3) Navigate to the User -> Preferences Section -> Windows Settings -> Registry
Cursors are user settings, and there are no administrative templates in policy to configure this for us - so we go to GPO preferences!

4) Right Click and choose Registry Wizard
Registry Item = one setting by hand, Registry Wizard is a vacuum cleaner for preconfigured settings!

5) Select Local if you modified the Mouse Cursor settings on the local machine or choose the remote machine that you want to connect to (firewall settings must allow this)
Select the machine that has already been configured as your template

6) Expand HKey_Current_User Tree ->_ Expand the Control Panel Key -> Expand the Cursors Key
This is the tricky part - you have to know where to go in the registry!

7) Select all of the Values in the lower half and click Finish
Select all of the named values at the bottom to capture all cursor settings

8) You can expand out the registry key directory and see the key settings.

Each registry item is its own setting - and you didn't have to manually configure any of them!

9) These Group Policy Preference settings do not prevent users from changing their cursor, but it does reapply the registry settings at each logon - unless you tell it not to. To do that, open the properties of each setting and switch to the "common" tab and add the check mark to "Apply once and do not reapply"
GPO Preference Setting Dialog Box to change "stickiness"

10) Log off and log back on as an affected user to experience the new setting!

Original Size

Log Off

Log On - and notice the GPO Preference being applied!

Big fat juicy cursor, just they way I like it!
So... that's how you get your funky mouse cursor settings into Group Policy Preferences... but be creative! What other registry settings are tied to users or computers that you currently have to bake into an image (which get corrupted) or have to manually configure? Take advantage of this easy to use tool!

Remember, it's your job to "point" the way!

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