Best Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc) Alternative for Windows

Group Policy Editor or gpedit.msc is a powerful tool for managing and restricting the way Windows environment works. Unfortunately, Windows only includes the group policy editor for Professional and Enterprise editions only. The Group Policy Editor is not enabled for Windows Home or starter editions.

We have already provided two ways to enable the group policy editor in Windows Home Edition:

Enable Group Policy Editor in Windows Home using third party script

Enable Group Policy Editor in Windows Home using Powershell script

Policy Plus is another free open source tool for Windows which enables users to use Group Policy Editor on any edition of Windows whether it is Home, Pro or Enterprise.

Group Policy is just a wrapper around Windows Registry. All group policy changes are saved in the Windows Registry. While it’s possible to change Windows settings using Windows Registry directly, it’s always a good idea to use a managed human friendly editor.

Downloading ADMX Policy files with Policy Plus

The interface of Policy Plus is very similar, if not identical, to the Windows Group Policy Editor. You can choose from Computer or User policies or both at the same time. The tree hierarchy is almost the same as Microsoft’s editor.

Since Microsoft Windows Home and Starter editions do not come with all the administrative templates, Policy Plus gives the user the option to download all administrative templates from Microsoft so that all options are active and working. To download all administrative templates, follow the instructions below:

  1. Open Policy Plus
  2. Go to Menu –> Help –> Acquire ADMX Files
  3. Download the policy files preferably in default location
    Policy Pro download admx policy files

Using Policy Plus

Although you can go through the list tree of settings in Policy Plus, it’s always a good idea to search for a specific setting for quicker access. You can search by three types:

  1. Unique ID
  2. Registry Key path
  3. Text (titles, descriptions, etc.)

Double-clicking a setting will open the same configuration window as you get in the Windows Group Policy Editor. Just select from the choices mostly not configured, enabled or disabled and press the OK button to apply the policy.

Limitations on Policy Plus

Here are some limitations of Policy Plus as compared to the Group Policy Editor:

  1. A restart is required for some of the local settings to take effect. This is only the case in Windows 10, 7 or 8 Home editions or Starter editions. These policies will be applied instantly to Pro and Enterprise editions.
  2. If you want to define policies for different users on a Home edition of Windows using Policy Plus, it will be ignored by Windows. You will need to manually change the settings in the Windows Registry.

Conclusion and download

Overall, I have found Policy Plus to be a very handy tool which is free, portable and open source. It can be helpful in situations where the default Windows Group Policy Editor is having issues or is not available. It will be interesting to see if this editor works in a domain environment with group policy restrictions applied on opening gpedit.msc.

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Usman Khurshid
Usman Khurshid is a seasoned IT Pro with over 15 years of experience in the IT industry. He has experience in everything from IT support, helpdesk, sysadmin, network admin, and cloud computing. He is also certified in Microsoft Technologies (MCTS and MCSA) and also Cisco Certified Professional in Routing and Switching.

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2 thoughts on “Best Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc) Alternative for Windows”

  1. Most GPO policies in W10 are now restricted by Product Policy Licenses
    so adding the GPO or equivalent registry value to unsupported Edition will have no effect. I’m pretty sure that Policy Plus will not work because it also uses Windows registry for setting changes and restrictions. Have you tried changing settings with Policy Pro on Windows 10 Home and checked the results?

    • As a matter of fact I have confirmed that policies configured using Policy Plus are working. I ended up here after enabling GPEDIT did not have any effect. I used the enabler script from another article on this website, but none of the configured policies took effect nor did they even get their corresponding registry entries created. Using Policy Plus, however, worked as it should with the policies that were configured. Some policies required a reboot before they took effect, for example turning off Windows Defender antivirus. Disabling right-click context menu for the Start menu and removing the power options from the Start Menu as well as the Windows Security screen (ctrl+alt+del screen) also worked as expected and immediately, without a reboot. Hiding specific pages of the Settings app also worked flawlessly and only required a restart of the app. Some other policies are yet to be confirmed if they are effective and I’m doubtful they are, as you’ve said, some policies are edition-dependent and setting them up on unsupported editions is futile. I’m suspecting automatic Windows Updates are one such policies that are simply ignored in W10 Home, even though no updates were automatically downloaded during my testing, but this may have more to do with setting the connection as metered than disabling automatic updates via Group Policy (Policy Plus). Next, I’m going to allow automatic downloading of updates via metered connection to see IF the Windows Update Group Policies are actually effective or not.


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