How to block access to programs in Windows 10?

By Natallia Pustavalava | February 22, 2019 |

greater than 4 minutes

A time may come when you might want to block public access to certain programs on your computer.

While you can put locks or set passwords for folders and programs with third-party applications, there is also an option to do that within Windows itself. In this article, find out how to hinder somebody from using software in Windows 10.

How to prevent users from using software in Windows 10?

There are several ways in which you can block users from using software in Windows 10.

Option one: block access to programs by editing the Registry

Important: before you proceed with this method, it’s a good idea to set up a system restore point to which you can go back in case you want to undo the changes later. Once you’ve set up your restore point, you can proceed with the steps below:

  • Use the Win+R combo to bring up Run.
  • In the program’s text box, enter “regedit” and click OK.
  • Open the following registry path: HKEY_CURRENT_USER SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Policies.
  • You should see an Explorer key under Policies. If you don’t, right-click on Policies and select New>Key. You will be asked to enter the name for the key: put in “Explorer”.
  • Click the new Explorer key. Then, right-click on an empty space on the right side of the Registry Editor and select New > DWORD (32-bit).
  • Now, enter the following title for the new DWORD: “DisallowRun”.
  • Double-click on the newly created DisallowRun DWORD and open its Edit window.
  • In the Value data box, enter “1” and click OK.
  • Right-click the Explorer key to select New > Key and input “DisallowRun” as the name for the new subkey.
  • Next, right-click the new subkey. In the context menu, select New>String Value.
  • Enter “1” as the title for the string value.
  • Now, open the Edit String window by double-clicking on the 1 string value.
  • In the Value data box, right under the Value name box, type in the name of the program you don’t want to run and click OK.
  • Finally, close the Registry Editor window.

Now, if anyone tries to run the said program on your PC, they will receive an error message saying: “This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator.”

If you want to stop more programs from running on your Windows 10 PC, you will need to enter the names of these programs as string values within the DisallowRun key. String value names will need to be changed accordingly: input “2” as Value name for the second program you want to block, input “3” for the third program you want to block and so on.

Option two: block access to programs via Group Policy Editor

If you are using Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, you have the option of preventing software from running by using the Group Policy Editor — so, you won’t need to edit the Registry. With the Group Policy Editor, you can make use of the Run only specified Windows applications setting. Here’s how to do that:

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  • Open Run, type in “gpedit.msc” in the text box and click OK.
  • Go to User Configuration>Administrative Templates>Templates.
  • Double-click Run only specified Windows applications.
  • In the Run only specified Windows applications window, choose the Enabled option.
  • Click the Show button to open a Show Contents window.
  • In the Show Contents window, enter the name of the program you would like to block. Make sure to enter the exact exe file name — for this, you might want to open the software’s folder to make sure you have the name right.
  • Click the OK button.
  • Then, press the Apply and OK buttons on the Run only specified Windows applications window.

Note that the above actions will stop the selected programs from running for all users. If you want to block access to certain programs for certain users, you will need to go through a few extra steps.

How do I block other users from using programs on my Windows computer?

To block access to certain programs for specific users, you will need to add the Group Policy Object Editor snap-in to the Microsoft Management Console. Here’s how to proceed:

  • Use the Win+Q key combo to bring up Cortana.
  • In the search box, type in “mmc.exe” and open it.
  • In the UAC prompt window, click Yes.
  • Navigate to File>Add/Remove Snap-in.
  • In the new window, select Group Policy Object Editor and click Add.
  • In the Select Group Policy Object window, click Browse.
  • In the Browse for a Group Policy Object window, select the Users tab.
  • Now, choose an account that you would like restriction to apply to.
  • Click OK and then Finish.
  • In the Add or Remove Snap-ins window, press OK.
  • Go to File > Save As.
  • In the Save as window, type in the name for the new file and hit Save.
  • Double-click the newly saved MSC file to apply the restrictions to your chosen account or accounts.
  • The Group Policy Editor window will open, and you will need to select the program or programs you would like to block following the steps outlined above.

There you have it: this is how you can prevent users from using specific software in Windows 10. As mentioned above, however, we strongly recommend that you set up a restore point prior to making these changes so that you can always go back.

In order to make sure that your system is running smoothly at all times, we recommend you have a reliable anti-malware program installed. Auslogics Anti-Malware has been specifically designed to regularly scan your system and keep it safe from even the rarest data safety threats.

Do you prefer to set access restrictions for programs within Windows or use a third-party app for this purpose? Share in the comments below.

Fed up with your slow PC? Tired of waiting for Windows to start up? Take a look at the most common reasons behind poor performance and the best ways to deal with them here.
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