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Using the MMC

Virtually every management tool for Active Directory is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in. These snap-ins are applications that run in the context of the MMC and are saved with a .msc extension. Although not specifically part of DNS or Active Directory, you will use the MMC throughout this book, so it makes sense to look at it briefly.

Default Consoles

You can open any number of Active Directory and DNS management tools by clicking the following:

  • Start

  • Programs

  • Administrative Tools

You can then use Active Directory Users and Computers to manage Active Directory objects, use DNS to manage your DNS servers, and so on.

Creating Custom Consoles

You also can use mmc.exe to create your own customized MMC consoles. This enables you to group several snap-ins in the same console.

TIP

If you create the console and then save it in the default folder, it ends up in the Administrative Tools folder. This can be handy, but you still must navigate through the Start menus to use it. One of my favorite ways to leverage the MMC is to create a console and save it to the desktop. This enables me to get to the tools I use the most with a double-click.

To create a custom MMC console, open the mmc.exe application, add one or more snap-ins, and then save the console as filename.msc.

To open MMC, type mmc.exe at a command prompt or at the Start, Run menu. This opens the MMC application without any snap-ins loaded. To add snap-ins to the MMC console, click Console, Add/Remove Snap-in. Figure 3.1 shows the empty MMC.

Figure 3.1 The Console menu in the MMC provides all the options to further enhance its use—including the selection to Add/Remove Snap-ins.

Next, you use the menu or Ctrl+M to open the Add/Remove Snap-in property page shown in Figure 3.2.

Figure 3.2 The Add/Remove Snap-in property page is where you select which snap-ins to add to which directories.

Clicking Add on the property page opens the Add Standalone Snap-in property page shown in Figure 3.3. Here, you can select the snap-ins you want by either double-clicking them or selecting the name in the Snap-in column and clicking Add.

Figure 3.3 You can custom select the snap-ins to add to your MMC.

After you've finished, you can click Close. This returns you to the Add/Remove Snap-in property page shown in Figure 3.4. This page now shows the list of snap-ins that will be in this console.

The last thing you must do to persist the work you have done is to choose Console, Save and decide on a name and location for your new custom MMC console. You can also author and save consoles that cannot be modified for use by junior members of the staff. The MMC online help has more information on this functionality. To access MMC help, choose Help, Help Topics from inside MMC.

Figure 3.4 The console now shows you the snap-ins you've selected.

TIP

After you have saved the .msc console file, you can email it, copy it, and use it on multiple machines.

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