I came across a great tool today for updating registry keys via Group Policy called PolicyMaker Registry Extension. It’s made by a company called Desktop Standard, which is now a subsidiary of Microsoft. The product is free after registering a user account with the company (confirmed via email).
Installation was painless via an MSI. After installation, there are two new nodes in the Group Policy Editor called Computer Settings > Registry and User Settings > Registry. In them, you can simply set any registry value that you need to.
In my case, I was looking for a way to set the “NoAutosigOnCustomForms” DWORD to “1” in “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\Options” to disable the signature on custom forms in Outlook (since it shows up above the form body). This sure saved a lot of time as compared to going from machine to machine, or using RegEdit over the network to modify each machine.
You can either manually specify a key, or it can extract it from your registry. There are also options for whether you want to replace a key, delete it, etc. No shortage of options.
Of course, directly editing the registry via group policy is not exactly ideal — the process is called “tattooing” the registry because you are making a permanent change to the registry rather than making a change in the Policies section of the registry, where many programs like Office (along with the OS) look for settings. However, many programs don’t offer every option through ADM registry templates, so sometimes you just have to break down and make a direct registry change.