If your organization uses the Active Directory® directory service, you can use Internet Explorer® Maintenance (IEM) in Group Policy to customize and manage Internet Explorer for your users and computers. IEM enables you to define an Internet Explorer configuration as part of a Group Policy object (GPO). In addition, you can choose whether the settings that you deploy will be refreshed over time or just applied once for your organization.
This documentation covers how to use IEM on computers that are running versions of the Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, or Windows Server 2008 operating systems.
You can use this version of IEM to configure features of Internet Explorer 6 and a portion of the features of Internet Explorer 8. However, to fully manage Internet Explorer 8, you should use Internet Explorer Administration Kit 8 (IEAK 8), which is available at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=67685.
You must be a member of the Administrators group to work with IEM and GPOs. For more information about working with GPOs, see the Group Policy in-product Help file (Gpedit.chm) or the documentation at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=67684.
Before you begin
Before you begin using IEM, you should determine whether you want to configure the settings you create to be mandatory (fixed) or just initial default settings that your users can modify.
To create mandatory settings, you must use the settings in Group Policy in Administrative Templates — do not use IEM. After you apply mandatory settings to a user's computer, only an administrator can change the settings.
You can also enable the Internet Explorer Maintenance policy processing setting in Group Policy (located in Group Policy under Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Group Policy) to refresh any settings configured using IEM when the GPO refreshes. See the description text in Group Policy for information about how to configure the check boxes for this policy.
If you do not enable this policy, your users will lose the settings applied by IEM if you apply any customized settings through IEM and then run the Reset Internet Explorer Settings feature in Internet Explorer.
If you use IEM to create settings, you can set this tool to either non-Preference Mode or Preference Mode. Preference Mode settings will be applied only once, but non-Preference Mode settings will be refreshed over time. You should use Preference Mode if you want your users to start with the same configuration for their browsers, but want them to be able to personalize their Internet Explorer settings later.
By default, IEM is in non-Preference Mode. To change to Preference Mode, see Use IEM in Preference Mode.