[Tip] Restrict Any Desired Program from Running in Windows

Recently we shared a useful Registry tweak to replace "Ease of Access" button at Login Screen with any desired program in Windows Vista and later Windows versions. With the help of that tutorial, you can launch any desired program by clicking on "Ease of Access" button at Login Screen without any need of sign into Windows. You can check out the tutorial at following link:

[Windows Tip] Replace "Ease of Access" Button with Other Programs on Login Screen

Now in this tutorial, we are going to use the same Registry tweak for a different task. With the help of the same Registry tweak we'll restrict any desired program from running in Windows. If a user tries to run the restricted program either by clicking on its shortcut or by directly running its EXE file, some other program will launch in its place. For example, you can restrict any 3rd party software such as a web browser and when someone tries to run that program, you can force Windows to launch a different program such as Notepad, Paint, etc in its place.

The beauty of this trick is that the user will never have any idea what's going on in the system. The user will never find the reason why Windows is opening a different program instead of the actual program associated with the shortcut.

If you want to restrict any program in Windows, check out following simple steps:

1. Press WIN+R keys together to launch RUN dialog box. Now type regedit in RUN and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options

3. Under Image File Execution Options key, create a new key and set its name to the EXE file name of your desired program which you want to restrict from running. For example, if you want to restrict Mozilla Firefox, then set the key name to firefox.exe, if you want to restrict Internet Explorer, set key name to iexplore.exe and so on. You can find the program's EXE file name from its shortcut's properties.

4. Now select the new key created in previous step and in right-side pane, create a new String and set its name as Debugger

5. Now the final step! Double-click on Debugger string and set its value to the full path of the program's EXE file which you want to launch in place of the restricted program. If you want to launch Command Prompt, Calculator, Notepad, Paint or any other system program instead of the restricted program, you can use the direct EXE file name of those programs as the value of Debugger string such as cmd.exe or calc.exe or notepad.exe, etc.


But if you want to launch programs such as Internet Explorer or any other 3rd party software, then you'll need to provide full path of that program's exe file as value of Debugger string such as C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe for launching Internet Explorer.

That's it. Now try to open the restricted program and a different program which has been set as the value of Debugger string in Registry will launch in place of it.

If you want to remove the restriction in future, simply delete the key created in Step 3.

PS: You can also use another Registry tweak mentioned in the point 24 of following exclusive tutorial to restrict access to any desired program:

Ultimate List of All Kinds of User Restrictions for Windows

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Posted in: Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8 / 8.1, Windows Vista

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  • Hi Vg, Please i want to disable permanently driver signer enforcement in windows 7,

    Please help me.

  • VG

    ^^ You'll need to access F8 screen at startup and then select disable driver signature enforcement option.

  • Hi VG, I have been looking for something like this. Thank you! I am also trying to find a way to stop my family members from installing any commercial anti-viruses on their computers like Norton, McAfee or Trend. Sometimes McAfee installs when they update Adobe Reader and I can't teach them to untick the box during installation, so I am trying to find a way to completely block the installations. Is it possible? Happy to donate if you can find a way.. Keep up the great work!

  • VG

    ^^ If you know the setup's EXE file name, you can use the above mentioned trick to redirect the installation file to some other program such as calculator, etc. You can also check Point 24 as mentioned in PS.

  • User can easily right click the firefox icon and goto target location finally rename the Firefoxexe to Firefox2.exe that is all

  • VG

    ^^ If someone is a little bit expert, he can directly run the EXE file from Program Files folder. This method will prevent users from opening the app from everywhere.

  • Hi VG - I have read the above, and I note that the fix can be used for Windows programs, but I'm not certain if it can be used for an external program. The problem I have is that after IE has been active for a long time (>1 hour) it sometimes dies, with a message to the effect that it has stopped working. I want to remove IE totally and replace it with Google, but I can't see how to do it. I have changed Internet Options in Control Panel to Google, but it doesn't make any difference. I am most concerned that IE may be an integral part of Windows, as is Explorer.exe, and I might do some damage by changing.

  • VG

    ^^ Yes. You cant replace IE with other web browser completely as its a part of the main Windows shell. If you try to replace the files, it may make Windows not bootable.

  • Thanks for the reply. That's what I was afraid of - so what can I do to switch to Google? I note that after changing in Internet Options, when I switch to another tab after browsing, it still selects Bing, rather than Google.

  • VG

    ^^ Please provide more details. Do you want to set Google Chrome web browser as default or do you want to make Google as homepage in Chrome?

  • Hellow.

    According to the article... Just can not create a string with #Debugger# name.

    Appriciate any help! Thanks in advance.

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