This function gets the value of a shell restriction.




The rest argument selects the restriction whose value is wanted. The supported values in the RESTRICTIONS enumeration are listed separately, since there are many members and also some awkward variations with the SHELL32 version.

Return Value

The function returns the value of the selected restriction, else zero.


The shell restrictions are defined as a set in the sense supported by the SHLWAPI function SHRestrictionLookup. Each restriction is implemented as a registry value in some subkey of Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies in either the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE or HKEY_CURRENT_USER branch, with precedence given to the former. Though many restrictions are booleans that specify whether a corresponding feature is restricted, typically as an administrative policy, the general scheme is that a restriction can evaluate to any DWORD, defaulting to zero.

Part of the SHLWAPI support is that SHELL32 provides memory for caching the values of the restrictions. SHELL32 expects to be notified through its SHSettingsChanged function if any restrictions have their values changed in the registry. The SHRestricted function checks whether any such notifications have been received since the previous call to SHRestricted. If they have, then the function resets its cached values of all restrictions. For every restriction, the next time that SHLWAPI is asked for a lookup, including for this call, it must refresh the cache from the registry.

Old Behaviour

Until version 5.00, SHELL32 implemented this function itself instead of by providing a table to the SHRestrictionLookup function in SHLWAPI. In versions 4.71 and 4.72, this implementation did not differ very much from what got moved to SHLWAPI in version 5.00. Earlier versions were not so settled.

In the very earliest implementations of version 4.0, for both Windows 95 releases and for at least the original NT 4.0, restrictions are sought only in HKEY_CURRENT_USER.

In the Windows 95 releases and all NT 4.0 releases as late as Service Pack 5 (but specifically not as late as Service Pack 6), the rest argument is interpreted as a combination of bit flags. The function attempts to get the value of each restriction that corresponds to a set bit in the rest argument, and returns the first non-zero value it encounters. Since the order of testing is surely an implementation detail, the intention may have been that one call can test whether any of multiple restrictions has a non-zero value.

The Windows 95 implementations do not cache the values of any restrictions and they ignore restrictions when running in a clean-boot configuration.


The SHRestricted function is exported from SHELL32 as ordinal 100 in version 4.0 and higher. In version 6.0 and higher, starting from Windows XP SP1, the function is also exported by name.

Though the function dates from the original release of Windows 95, it was left undocumented by Microsoft until 2002 when it got listed among the Settlement Program Interfaces. Even then, the function is said to require “version 5.0 or later”.