Custom Start Menu on a Terminal Server for Server 2012 using Group Policy


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Step one: Creating the Start Menu

The easiest way to do this is to firstly create a Test OU in Active Directory and a Test user inside that OU. This means that when the testing is being done it won't have an knock-on effect to any live Start Menus being used by users on that terminal server.
Secondly, log on to the terminal server as the test user and start to create the custom Start Menu you would like, pinning the programs and applications you would like to the Start Menu.

At this point it's really important to make sure the shortcuts are accessible for any user that logs on to the terminal server.

To do this, right click and select "open file location". This will open up the folder where the file is actually located. If it points to a user profile in the address bar at the top, this shortcut will only be accessible to that one particular user as they will only have permission to that folder.

Once the Start Menu has been created log off and log back on as this essentially finalises and saves the Start Menu.

Step two: Applying the Start Menu

The next stage will be to copy the two files that the Start Menu uses into a location that is accessible for any user that needs the Start Menu applying.

To do this:

My two lines of script looked like this:



NOTE: I have a /y switch in there as this overwrites existing files automatically without prompting you, meaning it will always run without any user interaction.

In simple terms it's essentially "xcopy" followed by a space.
Followed by where you're copying from, followed by a space.
Followed by where you are copying too.
You can copy and paste the above lines and swap out the server name if needs be.

Step three: Creating the Group Policy

The next stage is to write a group policy and apply this to the OU with the users that need the Start Menu.

This can be added into the terminal server lockdown policy if you have one also. If you don't, this is the group policy that will be created.

That's it!

Step four: Testing...testing!

The easiest way to test this is to create another test user in the Test OU and apply the policy to only the Test OU, make sure you are happy that this is working before applying it. You now have a standardised custom start menu for the users in your organisation
NOTE: Be aware that it can sometimes take two, three, and maybe even up to four log-ons for this to be picked up properly.

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