The Group Policy Editor and Registry Editor are widely used to enable, disable, and configure advanced settings in Windows. In fact, most of the Windows tutorials you find here will discuss how to change a certain Group Policy setting or edit Registry keys if you are using the Windows Home version. Though the Group Policy Editor makes it very easy to modify advanced system settings, the downside of it is that there is no easy way to find a policy unless you know where to look.
If you forgot where a policy is, good luck finding it among hundreds of other policy settings. To deal with this, you can search for a specific policy in the Group Policy Editor. The catch is that you can only search for specific settings under Administrative Templates available under both User Configuration and Computer Configuration. The following will show you how to do it.
1. Using Group Policy Search Website
Microsoft has a dedicated website called Group Policy Search to search for a certain Group Policy setting. Simply use a few keywords in the search bar and the website will list all the policies that match that keyword. For instance, I searched for “PIN Length” and got five results which you can see under the “Search Results” section. These results include policies from Computer Configuration and User Configuration.
The best thing about this website is that it gives you all the details you’ll ever need about a policy. Those details include but are not limited to a detailed explanation, full policy name, policy path, affected registry key and value, supported operating system versions, admx, and adml files. You can also choose between “Registry View” and “Policy View” from the “Tree” option appearing in the upper navigation bar. This is particularly helpful if you want to know which specific Registry Value is affected.
2. Using Official Excel Sheet
Besides the online database, Microsoft also provides an official Excel Sheet with all the policies for its currently supported Windows versions. You can download the Excel sheet for free from the Microsoft website for offline purposes or even carry it with you. This method is particularly helpful when you don’t have access to the Internet or when it is restricted. Just like the online database, the Excel sheet contains all the details like policy explanation, target registry key, policy scope, etc.
To search for a specific policy, use the regular Ctrl + F keyboard shortcut and type in the keyword. As you can see, I’ve searched for “Pin Length,” and it shows up right away. By scrolling sideways you can get more information about that policy.
3. Using the Built-in Group Policy Filter
It is one of the lesser-known features of the Group Policy Editor, but you can use the “Filters” option to find the policy you want.
To search for a policy, search for “gpedit.msc” in the Start menu and open it. Right-click on “administrative templates” and select the option “Filter Options.”
In this window select the “Enable Keywords Filter” checkbox, enter the keyword in the blank field and click on the “OK” button.
As soon as you click on the button, the Group Policy window will show you the results. As you can see, the editor will not show the specific policies that match your keyword. Instead, it will show the policy folder in the right panel. You have to manually open each folder to find the target policy.
In my case that would be “Pin Length,” so I have to manually navigate to the “System > PIN Complexity” folder to find the policy I want.
As you can see, using the built-in Group Policy Editor’s Filters option is not that intuitive, but it sure is helpful to narrow down your search. In fact, before I knew about the Group Policy search website or the Excel sheet, I used this method many times to find the policy I needed. To further improve the search results, configure additional filter options like help text, comment, managed, commented, requirements, etc.
Comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using the above methods to search for a specific policy in the Group Policy Editor in Windows.
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