Conferencing Policy Settings: AllowAnnotations



This article is part of the series An In-Depth Guide to Conferencing Policy Settings.



Parameter/Property Name

Allowed Values



This is a per-organizer setting.

·         TRUE: Users can create whiteboards. This is the default value.

·         FALSE: Users cannot create whiteboards.


Lync Server Control Panel Equivalent Setting: None


Way back in 1994 (see this article in the March, 1994 issue of COMPUTE! magazine) Microsoft introduced a new feature in Microsoft PowerPoint: the "John Madden Tool," the ability to draw on a slide any time a slide show was paused. This feature was named after John Madden, the football coach turned sports announcer who is best known for two things: 1) his fear of flying; and, 2) his penchant for wildly drawing on the TV screen during a broadcast as a way to better illustrate his points.


Note. Actually, John Madden is known for three things. We forgot the "turducken": a chicken cooked inside a duck cooked inside a turkey.


This same basic idea (the John Madden tool, not the turducken) is available in Microsoft Lync 2010, although it's no longer referred to as the John Madden tool. Instead, and in typical Microsoft fashion, this capability is referred to by two different names: in the Lync UI we call this a whiteboard, and in the Lync Server conferencing policies we refer to this capability as annotations.


Note. If you've been wondering why we felt we should go through and explain the various conferencing policy settings, well, now you know at least one reason: there isn't always a 100% correspondence between the name used in a conferencing policy and the name used in the Lync UI.


By default, conferencing policies allow users to add a whiteboard to a meeting: that simply means putting up a blank screen that anyone in the meeting can draw on, type on, add images to, etc., etc. How do people put up one of these whiteboards? That's easy: they just select New Whiteboard from the Share menu:



Pretty cool, huh? Well, unless you'd just as soon your users not have access to a whiteboard during meetings. Then this isn't pretty cool, not in the least.


So is there a way to prevent people from using a whiteboard during a meeting? You bet there is; all you have to do is take the appropriate conferencing policy and set AllowAnnotations to False. For example:


Set-CsConferencingPolicy –Identity global –AllowAnnotations $False


What will that accomplish? That will remove the New Whiteboard option from the Share menu for any user affected by the conferencing policy. In other words:



Ah, good question: what do we mean when we say "any user affected by the conferencing policy?" As it turns out, AllowAnnotations is a setting that applies to the organizer of a conference. Suppose we have two users and two different conferencing policies:



Conferencing Policy


Pilar Ackerman



Ken Myer




As you can see, Pilar's conferencing policy prohibits annotations. Because this setting applies to the organizer of a conference that means that whiteboards will not be allowed in any meeting that Pilar organizes. It doesn't matter whether the other people in the meeting have policies that do allow annotations; the only thing that matters is what Pilar's policy says.


Now, suppose Pilar participates in a meeting organized by Ken Myer. Will Pilar be allowed to use a whiteboard in that meeting? You bet she will: that's because this capability revolves around the policy setting applied to the meeting organizer, and Ken's policy allows annotations.


Got that? We thought you would.


Incidentally, if you change your mind and want to allow annotations again then just set AllowAnnotations back to True:


Set-CsConferencingPolicy –Identity global –AllowAnnotations $True





Comments (3)
  1. says:

    Is there a way to configure the annotations to Presenter Only instead of the default everyone for PowerPoint Sharing?  It seems the behavior is either onoff when setting annotations via the conferencing policy and eliminates the flexibility of keeping whiteboard capabilities but controlling presentation of a Sharepoint slide.  (Granted this can be configured by the users during a meeting, but the concept of "Presenting" material usually does not require everyone to be able to modify the content as a default.  Is there a way to change the default Annotations privileges from Everyone to Presenter Only?

  2. CSPShell says:

    Hey Wayne, Unfortunately, as far as we've been able to figure out the answer is no. It doesn't look like that setting is actually saved in the registry or anywhere else to where you'd be able to set it and have that setting persist.

  3. Bryan McKee says:

    Is there a way to turn off saving Annotations and Polls

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content