Hacking Internet Explorer’s Kiosk Mode

Internet Explorer offers a Full Screen mode, invoked by pressing F11. In this mode it has no title bar or border and it fills the whole screen. This is sometimes called kiosk mode, suggesting you could use it to turn your PC into a self-service Internet kiosk for use by the public. However, it gives the user too much power. The navigation toolbar remains at the top, and any user can right-click it to restore the Address bar. Worse, pressing F11 again restores the normal view.

You can get a lot closer to a practical Internet kiosk by launching IE in its true Kiosk mode. To do so, simply enter iexplore -k in the Start menu’s Run dialog, appending the URL of the Web site you want it to open. You could also create a shortcut containing this command line. The resulting window will totally fill the screen with the selected page—no frame, no title bar, no menu, and no toolbar. If the page in question is a local HTML page with only local links, users can’t click to navigate elsewhere.

Savvy users could still get around this limitation by controlling IE through the keyboard. By typing Ctrl-O or Ctrl-L they could invoke the Open dialog, which would allow them to open any Web site (effectively restoring the Address bar’s functionality). Ctrl-N would open a new window that’s not in Kiosk mode, and Shift-clicking a link would open that link in a non-Kiosk window. Finally, Alt-F4 or Ctrl-W would close the Kiosk-mode window.

You can lock down these subversive key combinations using restrictions in the Registry. Launch RegEdit from the Start menu’s Run dialog; navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\
Policies\Microsoft Internet Explorer\Restrictions; and find or create each of the following DWORD values, setting its data to 1 to enable the restriction:

·  NoBrowserClose (disables closing the browser window)

·  NoBrowserContextMenu (disables right-click context menu)

·  NoFileOpen (disables use of Ctrl-O or Ctrl-L to launch an arbitrary URL)

·  NoOpenInNewWnd (disables opening a link in a new window via Ctrl-N or Shift-click)

A user who attempts one of these restricted actions will get a warning stating “This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator.” You may need to restart the computer to make it recognize changes in these values. Of course users can still enter Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up Task Manager and end the process.

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