How to block access to programs in Windows 10

Matthew Adams By: Matthew Adams
4 minute read

Home » How To » How to block access to programs in Windows 10

Network administrators might need to block user access to certain Windows 10 programs. There are a few ways that network administrators, and anybody else, can block users running certain software on their desktops or laptops

Users can apply locks to folders or add passwords to programs with third-party software. However, users can also block access to programs in Win 10 without any third-party software as follows.

This is how you can block other users from running software on PC

1. Block Software by Editing the Registry

Users can stop certain programs running by editing the registry. It might be worth setting up a system restore point before editing the registry so you can undo the changes if required. Then follow the guidelines below.

  • First, press the Windows key + R hotkey.
  • Enter ‘regedit’ in Run’s Open text box, and select the OK option.

  • Next, open this registry path: HKEY_CURRENT_USER SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Policies.
  • If there isn’t an Explorer key under Policies, right-click the Policies key on the left of the window to select New > Key. Enter ‘Explorer’ as the key name.

  • Select the new Explorer key. Then right-click an empty space on the right of the Registry Editor window and select New > DWORD (32-bit).
  • Enter ‘DisallowRun’ as the title for the new DWORD.

  • Double-click the new DisallowRun DWORD to open its Edit DWORD window.
  • Enter ‘1’ in the Value data box as shown directly below, and click the OK button.

  • Next, right-click the Explorer key to select New > Key.
  • Then input ‘DisallowRun’ as the title for the new subkey.

  • Right-click the new DisallowRun subkey to select the New and String Value context menu options.
  • Now enter ‘1’ as the string value name.

  • Double-click the 1 string value to open the Edit String window.
  • Then enter the exact name of the software’s executable file that you need to stop running in the Value data box as shown directly below.

  • Click the OK button to close the Edit String window.
  • Close the Registry Editor window.
  • Now the blocked program will display the error message shown below when users try to launch it.

Some users might not need to set up an Explorer key if there’s already one there under the Policies subkey. If so, users can skip the step for setting up a new Explorer key. Open the Computer HKEY_CURRENT_USER Software Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Policies Explorer path in the Registry Editor. Then add the DisallowRun subkey to the existing Explorer key instead.

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To set up blocks for more software, users will need to enter different names for string values within the DisallowRun key. For example, the string value names within the DisallowRun key for the second and third program blocks will need to be 2 and 3 as shown below.

If you’re establishing a seventh program block, enter 7 as the string value title.

2. Stop Programs Running With Group Policy Editor

Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise include Group Policy Editor with which users can stop programs running without editing the registry. Users can adjust a Run only specified Windows applications setting with the Group Policy Editor. This is how users can stop software running with Group Policy Editor.

  • Open Run in Windows 10.
  • Enter ‘gpedit.msc’ in the Open text box, and click the OK button.
  • Click User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Templates on the left of the Group Policy Editor window.
  • Then double-click Run only specified Windows applications to open that setting’s window.
  • Select the Enabled option on the Run only specified Windows applications window.
  • Press the Show button to open a Show Contents window.
  • Then click a line on the Show Contents window to enter the executable file name of the program to block. Some users might need to open the software’s folder to check what exe file name they need to enter.
  • Press the OK button.
  • Click the Apply and OK buttons on the Run only specified Windows applications window.

— RELATED: 5 best encrypted messaging software to block prying eyes

Note that the above guidelines will block the program for all users. To block the software for a specific user, you’ll need to add the Group Policy Object Editor snap-in to the Microsoft Management Console. Then you can configure policies to apply to specific users as follows.

  • First, press the Windows key + Q keyboard shortcut.
  • Enter mmc.exe in Cortana’s search box, and select to open mmc.exe.
  • Click Yes on the UAC prompt window that might open.

  • Then click File > Add/Remove Snap-in to open the window shown directly below.

  • Select Group Policy Object Editor on the left of the window.
  • Press the Add button.
  • Click Browse on the Select Group Policy Object window that opens.
  • Click the Users tab on the Browse for a Group Policy Object window.
  • Then select an account to apply the policies to.
  • Press the OK button.
  • Click the Finish option.
  • Select the OK option on the Add or Remove Snap-ins window.
  • Click File > Save As on the console window.
  • Enter a file title in the Save As window, and click the Save button.
  • Thereafter, double-click the saved MSC file to apply the block programs policies to the selected account group. That will launch the Group Policy Editor window from which you can select to block a program as outlined above.

That’s how users can stop specific programs running in Win 10. Users can unblock the software by erasing the new string values in the registry or disabling the Run only specified Windows applications setting. To ensure that you can always undo changes, however, set up system restore points before establishing program blocks. Then you can reverse changes made even to admin accounts by rolling Windows back to the restore point.

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