Restricting Settings by Active Directory Site with Only One GPO

Introduction

Have you ever wanted to configure a setting using a single Active Directory (AD) Group Policy Object (GPO), but have a different value for each logical AD “site” in your IT environment? Well, even if you haven’t, there are other folks out there that do. Here is a paraphrased version of an inquiry that I received recently:

“I am working on a Windows 7 deployment, and I would like to have custom wallpapers depending on the physical location. This I am able to do but there are 20+ Active Directory sites and can do it with a GPO assigned to each site. However, it would be easier to manage just a single GPO. Is this possible?”

In short, this person wants 20+ different wallpapers, but doesn’t want to have to create 20+ unique GPOs in order to configure the wallpaper. The most common suggestion in this case, at least historically, would probably be to write a custom user-based logon script (as opposed to a computer startup script) that checks the current AD site, and sets the wallpaper based on that. Granted, that would be a pretty solid solution, however with Group Policy Preferences (GPP), we have another option that requires no knowledge of scripting!

Let’s explore how to use Group Policy Preferences to consolidate multiple desktop wallpaper configurations (per AD site) into a single GPO!

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