How to Use Parental Controls To Block Or Limit Unwanted Programs

Windows 7 has a Parental Controls feature that helps you keep your kid safe online.

Update: Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft. Make sure you are running Windows 10 or above for support and security. For child safety on Windows 10, read: How to Setup Family Safety on Windows 10.

Perhaps you have small children in your home, or maybe you will soon be hosting visitors? Whatever the circumstance, there may be a time when you wish to limit access to your computer or certain applications on your computer. The good news is that Windows 7 includes very granular controls, which allow you to do just that.

As it’s called in Windows 7, Parental Controls allows you to limit everything from what times the computer can be used to which applications or games are available for each account. As I said, things are very granular and straightforward to set up when it comes to the Parental Controls of Windows 7.

To use Parental Controls, you first need to create a new Windows account to apply the Parental Controls/restrictions. By default, the first account is an Administrator account, and for obvious reasons, you cannot assign Parental Controls on Administrator accounts. Also, Parental Controls by default cannot be managed on computers that are Domain attached. Most people using Windows 7 at home will never need to worry about this, but I will provide instructions for domain-attached systems later.

How To Enable Parental Controls To Limit Access Or Completely Block Programs In Windows 7

1.   Click your Windows 7 Start Orb and type Parental into the search box. Click Parental Controls from the Search Results Menu.

How-To Launch Windows 7 Parental Controls :: Screenshot

2.   Click the User upon whom you would like to enforce parental controls.

choose a user to adjust parental controls properties for in windows 7

3.   Click the On, enforce current settings option. Then click Allow and block specific programs.

turn on parental controls in windows 7 for a specific user and then allow and block specific programs

4.   Before you can adjust the settings, you have to click [Username] can only use the programs I allow. Be advised as the program list loads; it might take a minute or two. By default, all of the programs will be Unchecked, which means they are disabled/blocked.

Chances are, you probably only want to block a few specific programs. The easiest way to do this is by first clicking the Check All button to allow access to all applications. Next, uncheck the applications you want to block/don’t want to use. Click OK to save changes and finish.

check user can only use the programs i allow, and then click check all. now go through and disable the programs you've selected

Parental Controls are in place.

The screenshot below will be displayed when an application you block is launched (by an account with the restriction.)

a pop-up will display in windows 7 when a parental control policy is blocking it

At the bottom of the Parental Controls block pop-up, there is a button to Ask an administrator for permission. If the user clicks that button, they will be prompted with another pop-up requesting an administrator password. When you enter the administrator password, the user will then have full access to that particular program.

you can override a parental control restrcition in windows 7 by entering an administrator password

Friends have told me this is very handy when locking down the internet browser while they are away from the house.

Although I didn’t touch on it, additional controls (see screenshot #3) can be enabled, such as Time Limits for certain accounts. Feel free to play around with it and comment on your experience/thoughts/questions!



  1. Panama Turismo

    March 16, 2010 at 6:51 am

    I trust you would not mind if I placed a part of How-To Setup Parental Controls To Block Or Limit Unwanted Programs on my university blog?

    • MrGroove

      March 16, 2010 at 7:53 am

      Hi Turismo. I’m glad you found the article worth quoting. That’s a great compliment. In regards to using the article on your blog, no problem. Please just don’t copy the entire article and put it on your blog. And please provide a back link to the original article giving it credit as your source.

      Thanks for asking ;)

  2. Amely Johnson

    August 3, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    But this type of built-in control allows to change the time of log off from a non-administrator account (which my child successfully uses) and sometimes blocks small games on a non-administrator account even if I permitted it (all games are blocked, except one). Almost nothing can be done about that. At the moment I stopped using it and bought a small programm like this:, which is a lot smarter. But maybe in the next version of Windows…

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