09: PolicyPak Cloud: Managing File Assocations

Got PDF? And don’t want Edge to open it? Or MP4, and don’t want the built-in movie player to open it? How about protocols like MAILTO: .. want to map those to Outlook? It’s drop dead easy.. with PolicyPak File Associations Manager. Trying to manage with “Set a default associations configuration” is for the birds, and isn’t flexible. Instead, manage it quickly using Group Policy, and PolicyPak.

PolicyPak Cloud: Managing File Assocations

Hi, this is Whitney with PolicyPak Software. In this video, we’re going to learn how to use PolicyPak’s File Associations Manager to associate file extensions and network protocols with specific applications. We’re then going to export those directives as XML and upload them to the cloud via the Internet.

Before we get started though, the first thing you need to know is that even though we’re going to be deploying these directives using the cloud, your cloud managed machine has to be domain joined. There’s no way around it. This is a self-imposed limitation by Microsoft. So even though, again, we’re going to be delivering these using the cloud, we still have to be domain joined.

That said, let’s go ahead and start looking at the problem and then we’ll look at the solution. The problem is with Windows 10 Microsoft has made it pretty difficult to be able to create file associations easily. It’s not a particularly easy or dynamic process. So if you go through all the trouble to create the file associations in the first place and then you try to change something, you’re going to have to go through all of that trouble all over again and we don’t want that.

Let’s take a look at some of the defaults of file associations that we have here. With a PDF, it’s going to open up in Edge here, and we don’t want that. We’ve got “Acrobat Reader” right here. Let’s go look at a video. It’s going to open up in Windows “Movies & TV.” We’ll see this little video happen. Finally, if we want to do a “mailto,” that’s going to open up in the Windows mailer as opposed to Outlook or something else that you may want to see. So we have this opening up in Windows Mail here. We don’t want that.

Let’s go ahead and hop over to our management station and fix that issue. I’m going to switch over. Now we’re at our management station here. I’m going to create a new GPO. Since I’m going to be managing this using the cloud, I don’t need to put this in any particular OU. I’m just going to throw it in the “Group Policy Objects” node because we’ll then export those directives as XML to be uploaded to our cloud instance.

I’m just going to call this “FAM for Cloud” and tell it “OK.” We’re going to “Edit” this bad boy. We’re going to come up here to the computer side because the File Associations Manager only works on a per computer basis. So we’ll come over here and choose our “File Associations Manager for Windows 10.”

Since I’m going to be creating three different File Associations Manager policies, I’m going to start with “ADD NEW COLLECTION.” I can just leave it called “Collection 1,” and then I’m going to go ahead and hop in there. I’m going to “ADD NEW POLICY.” When I do that, I’m going to give it a “Policy Name.” I’m going to say that I want “pdf to Acrobat.” The “Filter Type” is going to be “File Type.” In the “File Extension” it can only contain letters or digits, as it lets you know in the little text here. So I’m going to type “pdf.” There we go.

Now I’m going to “Select Program.” When I select a program, what it does is it goes through my management station and finds whatever programs can handle a PDF. In this particular demo, I’m going to be working with a situation where I have the same applications on my management station as I am trying to associate with particular file types or network protocols on my endpoint.

Now I understand that’s not always possible to have the same applications on your management station as you do on your endpoint. But we have another video dealing with our File Associations Manager Helper tool that will help you get around that issue. For this demo, we’re just going to be working with the same applications on the management station and on the endpoint.

I’m going to go over here. I want to go with “Adobe Acrobat Reader,” so I double click on that and then I tell it “OK.” That’s all it took.

So let me go “ADD NEW POLICY.” This time I want to use a network protocol, so I want “mailto to ClawsMail.” That’s going to act as our Outlook stand in. I’m going to choose a “Network Protocol.” Again, as the text lets you know, only letters so I’m just going to type in “mailto.” I’ll “Select Program.” Again, it looks through my management station and finds what can handle MAILTO. I’m going to choose “Claws-Mail” and tell it “OK.”

Finally, I’m going to go with a Windows 10 category, so I want “Video to VLC.” I’ll choose that “Windows 10 Category.” I’m going to go down here, and I’ll choose “Video Player” to be the “Windows 10 Category” there. I’m going to “Select Program” and I’ll choose “VLC media player.” There we go. We are good there.

Now that we have these directives in place, again, they’re not attached to any particular OU because we’re managing this through the cloud. So what are we going to do? We are going to come up to the top level. I can either click here and choose “EXPORT COLLECTION,” or I can right click and choose to “Export Collection as XML.” Either way is fine. I’m going to “Export Collection as XML.” I’ll just call it “FAM for Cloud.” I’m good there, so let’s close this down.

Now what I need to do is upload that XML to my particular cloud instance. Let’s go log on to PolicyPak.com and get our XML uploaded. All right, we’ll come over here to this “Customer Login” area. We’re going to choose the “POLICYPAK CLOUD Login.” Let’s enter our “EMAIL ADDRESS.” I’ve already got it saved there.

Once inside, I’m going to go over to my “Computer Groups” tab. I actually want this XML to these directives to apply to all of my machines, so I’m going to go ahead and put this in the “All” group here where my machine is living right now.

What I’m going to do is “Upload and link a new XML here.” I’m going to select “Choose File.” Mine is living on the “Desktop.” We’re going to go to “FAM for Cloud.” The “Description” is “PolicyPak File Association Manager.” I can change that if I want to. I’m just going to leave it as it as is for now though, and I’m going to choose “Add.” We’ll “Close” this up.

All right, so let’s go back over to our endpoint, and nothing has changed. Well, of course not. We haven’t actually received the directives yet. I already have the cloud client installed on this machine, so what I need to do is sync with the cloud so that I can receive that directive.

I am going to go to a “Command Prompt.” I’m going to do “ppcloud /sync.” This both syncs with the cloud and gives us a variety of an RSoP that will let us know what directives we’re receiving on this machine. We see right here we have that “File Association Manager” directive right here.

Now if we close this out, it doesn’t look like anything has changed. Well, that’s because we need to log out and log back on after we’ve received the directive once. So I’m going to pause the video while I log out and log back on. When we come back, you’re going to be able to see that these icons have changed to reflect the new file associations that we just put in place using the cloud. So we’ll be right back.

And we’re back. Notice that these icons have changed to reflect their new file associations. So when I go to open that same PDF file from before, it’s going to open up in Acrobat Reader instead of in Edge. Here we go. It opened up just like we expected it to. When I go look at a video, it’s going to open in VLC. There we go. We’ve got that same little Lego helicopter going on. And when we go to our “mailto,” it’s going to open up in Claws Mail instead of in that Windows mailer that we saw from before. So sure enough, here we are.

So in ten minutes or less, we were able to create three new file associations. And if I wanted to change any of that, it would take the same amount of time to do the changes as it did to do the thing in the first place. Again, remember, this only works on domain joined machines, but it can still be managed using the PolicyPak Cloud service.

If that’s interesting to you, let us know. We’ll get in touch and can give you the bits and get you started on a trial right away. Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you in the next video.

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  • 27-Jun-2019