How to Fix: 'Operation Canceled Due to Restrictions' Error

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Terry W. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Whenever I click on a link via email, I get an error stating that 'This operation has been canceled due to restrictions in effect on this computer.' I don't understand why I receive this error message, as my user account has administrator access and I am the only one that uses this computer. Any ideas why this is happening? "

My response:

Admittedly, I have never heard of this error message before. The next day Terry emailed me with a follow-up, stating that he found a solution and provided me with a link. The page he directed me to, however, was rather complex with many 'fixes' to the problem, but the exact culprit and solution was not clear.

As such, I spent more time researching the 'This operation has been canceled due to restrictions in effect on this computer' error, and decided to write a concise article explaining why this happens and how to fix it easily. So, here goes :)

What Causes the Error Message to Appear

In a nutshell, if you see either error message:

  • This operation has been canceled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator, OR
     
  • Your organization's policies are preventing us from completing this action for you. For more info, please contact your help desk.

It means that (most likely) your web browser setting inside the Windows Registry has become corrupted.

This problem affects Microsoft Outlook and other email clients, and also Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, etc). Basically, any program that incorporates web links has a problem opening links, because the links are supposed to open in your web browser - but the web browser settings are corrupt, so they don't open properly.

How Your Web Browser Setting Becomes Corrupted

The typical cause for this is that you downloaded a program (for example: Avast! antivirus) which also comes bundled with another web browser (example: Google Chrome). After the initial install completes, you launch Google Chrome and inadvertently make it the default browser. You then uninstall Chrome before resetting your original browser as the default browser, and thus your registry becomes "corrupted."

Under normal circumstances this isn't supposed to happen, but it does. So you need to 'undo' and 'reset' the changes in order to fix it.

How to Fix: 'This operation has been canceled due to restrictions in effect on this computer'

There are a number of ways you can fix this error and I'll list the easiest ways, first.

Solution #1: Download the Microsoft Fix It Tool

You can fix both the 'This operation has been canceled due to restrictions in effect on this computer.' error, as well as the 'Your organization's policies are preventing us from completing this action for you.' error message by downloading a registry fix provided by Microsoft.

Here are the steps to ensure that the fix will take:

  1. Download the fix for Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 here, and for Windows XP, Vista, 7, Server 2003 / 2008, here. Save it to your desktop for easy retrieval.
     
  2. Go to your desktop and right click over top of the fix. Important: from the dialogue menu, choose "Run as Administrator." If you don't see that option then you will need to sign on as a user with Administrator access. Note that if you do not Run as Administrator, then the fix won't work because it requires administrator access to make changes to the Windows Registry.
     
  3. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the fix.
     
  4. Restart your computer.
     
  5. Try opening a link via email to test and see if the problem has been resolved.

If that doesn't work, try the next step.

Solution #2: Reset Your Web Browser as Default

Based on what I've read (even on Microsoft's page), you can manually set your browser as the default by wading through a bunch of menus and then checkmark some options. Unfortunately, this process can become rather complex depending on which browser and which version of the browser you're using.

By far the easiest solution is to download and install another web browser, then set it as the default browser, then launch your main browser and then set that as the default browser. Using this method, you are basically resetting the settings without having to jump through a bunch of menus.

Here are the proper steps to take:

  1. Download and install another web browser; example: Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
     
  2. Launch the newly installed web browser. To do so: Click Start and look for either Google Chrome or Firefox in the Start Menu. When you find it, right its icon and choose "Run as Administrator". If you don't see that option then you will need to sign on as a user with Administrator access. Important: Running the task as Administrator will ensure that the setting will 'take', otherwise these steps won't work.
     
  3. When the browser launches, it will ask you if you want to set it as the default browser. Choose Yes.
     
  4. Exit Google Chrome or Firefox. Important: Google Chrome may stay resident in memory even after you exit it. To terminate Chrome completely, press CTRL + ALT + DEL on the keyboard and start Task Manager. When the Task Manager window opens, click on the Processes tab and click on the "Image Name" heading to sort by process executable. Next, scroll down the list and look for "chrome.exe" (and similar). Select an instance of "chrome.exe" and press DEL on the keyboard to terminate the task. Repeat until all "Chrome" tasks are deleted.
     
  5. Locate your 'regular' default web browser in the Start menu (example: Internet Explorer). Important: right click over top of your 'regular' default web browser and choose "Run as Administrator". If you do not Run as Administrator, the fix won't work. When the browser runs, it will ask if you want to make it default. Choose Yes, wait a few seconds, and then exit the browser.
     
  6. Next, uninstall the web browser you chose to install in Step #1 (either Chrome or Firefox). To do so: click Start, then go to Control Panel and then click on the "Programs and Features" (in Windows Vista, 7 and 8), or "Add or Remove Programs" (in Windows XP). Look for Chrome or Firefox in the list, left click to select it, then right click over top of the selection and choose "Uninstall."
     
  7. Restart your computer.
     
  8. Try opening a link via email to test and see if the problem has been resolved.

That should fix it.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question -- or even a computer problem that needs fixing -- please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (5 votes)

Comments

John Bowling's picture

Dear Dennis and Terry W,
I've long had this problem with Internet Explorer not opening hyperlinks clicked in Word although from Thunderbird they did always work. After a long time unsuccessfully trying to fix it I discovered this simple remedy. I installed Firefox, and told it not to be the default browser. I then told IE to be the default browser. Voila, problem solved and it promptly returned if I uninstalled Firefox. So I simply keep Firefox there as the non-default browser and use it whenever I please.

John Bowling's picture

I suppose the only final Q is WHY does the above simple remedy work? I'm afraid I'm not clever enough to know the answer but Dennis probably is? :-)