Setting Outlook Group Policies

Group Policy Editor buttonWhen you are in an Active Directory network environment, you can set Outlook policies to enforce settings on a specific or a group of users or computers.

This is mainly to be used to change or limit the default behavior of Outlook in a corporate environment but can also be useful in some home environments. For instance, as a home user you might want to set policies on what your children can and cannot do in Outlook.

This article explains how you can set Group Policies for Outlook and which tools are needed for it.


Download and install the Office Policy Templates

The Group Policy Administrative Templates and documentation files are specific for each Office version. Use the links below to download the correct template files for your Outlook version.

Install the Office 2007 Policies

Office 2007 buttonWhen you downloaded the Office 2007 policy templates you must install them first.

  1. Run the installer and accept the License Agreement.
  2. Type a location to extract the file to. For example: C:\Office2007Policies
  3. Open the folder in Explorer, select all the ADMX-files (15 in total) from the ADMX folder and the ADML-files (15) from the en-us folder (or your localized language when available) and copy them to:
    C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions
    • If you want to control an Active Directory network environment, then you can also copy them to the Sysvol\Domain\Policies\PolicyDefinitions folder on a domain controller.
  4. If you get prompted if you want to overwrite the files, choose “Yes to All”.
    If you get prompted by User Account Control (UAC), press Continue or provide Administrator level credentials.

If you also need the Policy Templates for the Outlook Social Connector, then you can download them here. More instructions about using the Outlook Social Connector Policy templates can be found at: How to manage the Outlook Social Connector by using Group Policy.

Install the Office 2010 Policies

Office 2010 buttonWhen you downloaded the Office 2010 policy templates you must install them first. While there are separate packages for the 32-bit and 64-bit AdminTemplates, this only applies to the Office Customization Tools (OCT) and not the policy templates themselves. The adm and admx templates in both packages are exactly the same.

  1. Run the installer and accept the License Agreement.
  2. Select a location to extract the file to. For example: C:\Office2010Policies
  3. Open the folder in Explorer, select all the ADMX-files (13 in total) from the ADMX folder and the ADML-files (13) from the en-us folder (or your localized language when available) and copy them to;
    C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions
    • If you want to control a Active Directory network environment, then you can also copy them to the Sysvol\Domain\Policies\PolicyDefinitions folder on a domain controller.
  4. If you get prompted if you want to overwrite the files, choose “Yes to All”.
    If you get prompted by User Account Control (UAC), press Continue or provide Administrator level credentials.

Install the Office 2013 Policies

Office 2013 buttonWhen you downloaded the Office 2013 policy templates you must install them first. While there are separate packages for the 32-bit and 64-bit AdminTemplates, this only applies to the Office Customization Tools (OCT) and not the policy templates themselves. The admx templates in both packages are exactly the same.

  1. Run the installer and accept the License Agreement.
  2. Select a location to extract the file to. For example: C:\Office2013Policies
  3. Open the folder in Explorer, select all the ADMX-files (13 in total) from the ADMX folder and the ADML-files (13) from the en-us folder (or your localized language when available) and copy them to;
    C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions
    • If you want to control a Active Directory network environment, then you can also copy them to the Sysvol\Domain\Policies\PolicyDefinitions folder on a domain controller.
  4. If you get prompted if you want to overwrite the files, choose “Yes to All”.
    If you get prompted by User Account Control (UAC), press Continue or provide Administrator level credentials.

Install the Office 2016 Policies

Office 2016 buttonWhen you downloaded the Office 2016 policy templates you must install them first. While there are separate packages for the 32-bit and 64-bit AdminTemplates, this only applies to the Office Customization Tools (OCT) and not the policy templates themselves. The admx templates in both packages are exactly the same.

  1. Run the installer and accept the License Agreement.
  2. Select a location to extract the file to. For example: C:\Office2016Policies
  3. Open the folder in Explorer select all the ADMX-files (11 in total) from the ADMX folder and the ADML-files (11) from the en-us folder (or your localized language when available) and copy them to;
    C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions
    • If you want to control a Active Directory network environment, then you can also copy them to the Sysvol\Domain\Policies\PolicyDefinitions folder on a domain controller.
  4. If you get prompted if you want to overwrite the files, choose “Yes to All”.
    If you get prompted by User Account Control (UAC), press Continue or provide Administrator level credentials.

Setting Policies in an Active Directory network environment

Active Directory buttonThis method describes how you can set Group Policies for clients in a corporate Active Directory environment. Aside from installing the policy templates for your Office version(s), you’ll need the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) to edit and set the policies.

Download: RSAT for Windows Vista 32-bit (x86)
Download: RSAT for Windows Vista 64-bit (x64)
Download: RSAT for Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit)
Download: RSAT for Windows 8 (32-bit and 64-bit)
Download: RSAT for Windows 8.1 (32-bit and 64-bit)
Download: RSAT for Windows 10 (32-bit and 64-bit)

  1. Open the GPMC through Control panel-> Administrative Tools-> Group Policy Management.
  2. In the left column, browse to the folder Group Policy Objects and select the Policy you wish to enforce Outlook policies on.

    Group Policy Management Console (click on image to enlarge)
    The Group Policy Management Console with the Default Domain Policy GPO selected.

  3. Right click the Policy and choose Edit…
  4. The policy templates which you installed for Outlook will be loaded automatically under;
    User Configuration-> Policies-> Microsoft Office Outlook version.
  5. You now will see Outlook listed and you can now enforce settings.

    The Outlook 2016 policy template loaded in the Group Policy Management Editor. (click on image to enlarge)
    The Outlook 2016 policy template loaded in the Group Policy Management Editor.

Setting Policies on the local computer

This PC buttonOnce you’ve installed the Group Policy Administrative Templates of your Office version, you can also control the Office policies on your own computer via the Group Policy Editor.

Your computer can but doesn’t need to be part of a domain for this.

Note:
The Group Policy Editor is not available when you are using a “Home” version of Windows.

  1. You can open the Group Policy Editor in the following way;
    Start-> type; gpedit.msc
  2. The policy templates which you installed for Outlook will be loaded automatically under;
    User Configuration-> Administrative Templates-> Microsoft Office Outlook version.
  3. You now will see Outlook listed and you can now enforce settings. Some of the settings will only take effect after you restart your computer.

    Local Group Policy Editor (click on image to enlarge)
    The Outlook 2016 policy template loaded in the local Group Policy Editor.

Note:
Local policy settings are enforced to all users of that computer; even the administrator! As an administrator you can of course change the settings back with the Group Policy Editor when required.