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deploy desktop short-cuts to windows 7 clients from server 2012 GPO

Posted on 2015-02-01
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Last Modified: 2015-02-15
I am moving a customer from SBS 2003 to Server 2012 (Hyper-V). As part of this I am moving from the 2003 login scripts to GPO. I have been able to successfully setup the drive mappings with GPO and item-level targeting (which incidentally is very cool).
I can't however, get GPO to put a short-cut on a Windows 7 client desktop.
I was wondering if this is a limitation of Windows 7 and Server 2012. There are no Windows 8 clients to check if they work.

What I am trying to do is add a short-cut to the Staff Telephone List (a PDF file) on every user desktop. The short-cut is to a PDF file which is stored in a network drive which all users have at least read & execute access to. The short-cut just does not appear.

I was doing it via login scripts before. I created the short-cut and saved the short-cut in the Netlogon folder. Then added the following line to each users' login script:

      xcopy "\\SERVER\NETLOGON\Staff Telephone List.lnk" "%userprofile%\Desktop\" /y

This has worked seamlessly since I first set it up and I have added other short-cuts as needed. I want to use GPO and get rid of the login scripts.

I'm either missing something, or there is an issue with Windows 7 clients and Server 2012.

Cheers,
Greg
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Question by:gregmiller4it
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Expert Comment

by:VB ITS
ID: 40583276
Use the Files Group Policy Preference to copy the file to the user's Desktop:

- In Group Policy Management Console expand User Configuration\Preferences\Windows Settings\Files
- Right click on Files then click New > File
- In Source file(s) type in the UNC path to your PDF file, i.e. \\Server\Share\File.pdf
- In Destination File type in %userprofile%\Desktop\File.pdf
- Make sure Read-only, Hidden, and Archive are all unticked
- Click on the Common tab and tick Run in logged-on user's security context (user policy option)
Create-file-through-GPP.png- Click OK when done
- Run gupdate /force on one of the workstations then log off and log back in to test that the file gets copied across
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Mahesh earned 500 total points
ID: 40583298
Instead use shortcut from GP Preferences, it will work

Under user configuration\preferences\windows settings right click shortcut and click new shortcut:
ShortcutSelect action: Update (This will check if shortcut exists or not, if found one will skip re applying GPO),
In Name field give appropriate name
target type: File System Object
location:Desktop
Target path: specify where you have kept PDF file
Lastly if you want to specify icon file path (picture how icon should look like), keep icon file on some network share with everyone read perms so that it will get applied to that icon on user desktop
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Expert Comment

by:VB ITS
ID: 40583306
Shortcut isn't ideal if the file needs to be updated on a regular basis as you'll need to make sure that everyone closes out of the file or wait until nobody is logged in before you can replace it.
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Expert Comment

by:Mahesh
ID: 40583325
Its not ideal if your actual file size is big in( MBs)

If your file is changing frequently, you can rename it after change and then apply this as shortcut
Within shortcut the only change happen will be shortcut target path will be changed in GPO some thing like:
Previous:\\server1\share1\list1.pdf
new: \\server1\share1\list2.pdf

When user logoff and log back on he should get same shortcut pointing to new target path
In that case U might need to change action parameter to create instead of update

lastly ensure that on GP preference item properties \ common tab, you have selected "run in logged on user security context" so that shortcut will be created under logged on user privileges
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Author Comment

by:gregmiller4it
ID: 40592523
When we were using the login script, I had created a short-cut to the pdf file and saved the short-cut in the Netlogon folder. When the admin girls make changes to the Staff Phone List, they update the source Word doc and save it to include the date so they can track it. Then they save it as a pdf with the same name as the original pdf (that the short-cut points to). This way the short-cut doesn't ever have to be changed. In the login script, the short-cut gets copied to the desktop each time, just in case the user has accidentally deleted it since last logon.

Shortcut isn't ideal if the file needs to be updated on a regular basis as you'll need to make sure that everyone closes out of the file or wait until nobody is logged in before you can replace it.
This hasn't been a problem as far as I know; the file only gets updated occasionally and if the girls can't edit it, they would probably just send a message around the office to get everyone to close the file. It has been working successfully this way for a couple of years.

Use the Files Group Policy Preference to copy the file to the user's Desktop:
I could do it this way and copy the file itself instead of the short-cut. I could have done it that way in the login script but I opted for copying the short-cut instead of the file.

Instead use shortcut from GP Preferences, it will work
This is exactly what I had tried. I could not get it to work at all...the short-cut just wouldn't appear. It would appear on the Server 2012 systems, but it wouldn't appear on the Windows 7 client system.
After reading Mahesh's comment, I went back and made sure that all my settings were identical to what was shown. I had a couple of minor differences which I changed to match the comment...and it still wouldn't work. So I scratched my head and kept fiddling, changed different settings that I had played with before...and then it started to work. I am not sure what I changed because I am pretty sure I had tried all the different options previously...but for some reason it started to work.

I have some other short-cuts to create, so I will try with them to see how I go and post the results.
Cheers,
Greg
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Expert Comment

by:Mahesh
ID: 40592973
OK
Few Check Points:
Ensure you would create Shortcut GP Preference item under user configuration
Target Type: This must be File System Object as you are copying it from network location
As far as Possible do not include spaces in shortcut name itself
ensure that on GP preference item properties \ common tab, you have selected "run in logged on user security context" so that shortcut will be created under logged on user privileges
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Expert Comment

by:VB ITS
ID: 40593277
To add to what Mahesh has said above, make sure you apply the GPO to the OU containing your users.
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Author Comment

by:gregmiller4it
ID: 40596340
It will be another day or so before I can have another go at this....
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