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I know that there has to be a way to do this, I just haven't found it yet...

How can I prevent non-administrator users from changing the screen resolution?

  • Is there a way with Group Policy?
  • Is there some registry setting?
  • Is there an open-source utility?

Any direction would be greatly appreciated!

Edit: This question refers specifically to systems running Windows XP professional.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

As splattne correctly points out, you can hide the Display Settings tab using policy. In AD Group Policy, it's under

User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Display > Hide Settings Tab

However, all this does is exactly that: hide the settings tab. It will not stop advanced users from changing the resolution, especially if you have a tray application or shell extension installed by your graphics card driver that allows users to do this.

Unless someone has a better method, I would add the AD group policy above, and uninstall or disable or otherwise lock down any Intel/ATI/NVidia application that allows users to change the resolution. This isn't bulletproof, but it should stop all but your most technical users.

A truly bulletproof solution to preventing resolution changes under non-administrator accounts might interfere with certain fullscreen applications.

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You could disable the settings tab for users as policy:

Local Security Policy > User Config > Admin Templates 
   > Control Panel > Display > Hide Settings Tab

Here is the MSDN documentation for this settting: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms811676.aspx

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Use Start -> Run -> gpedit.msc Then do the steps above. –  NYSystemsAnalyst Jun 3 '09 at 12:58

If i remember correctly, you can hide Settings tab from Display properties in GP.

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As pointed out by others here, you can block users from accessing the Display Properties dialog box by using Group Policies.

But there's still a way of changing the resolution - the same way that's used by full-screen games. A simple program can temporarily change the resolution itself, Windows provides an API for that, and there already are a few such programs available on the internet that change the resolution on start, and restore it when they are closed.

So unless you somehow manage to patch the system internals, there's no way to completely prevent all users from changing the resolution if they want.

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