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CompTIA A+ Exam Cram: Using Windows Vista "Hidden" Programs

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Want to learn how to use some of the rarer, harder to find tools in Windows Vista? David Prowse, author of CompTIA A+ 220-701 and 220-702 Exam Cram, shows how to access three tools and configure your system with them, in an effort to make your computer more organized and secure.

Many useful tools in Windows Vista can make the operating system more organized, accessible, and secure, and possibly increase the operating system’s speed and performance; however, some of these tools can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look or how to access them properly. This article and collection of screencasts shows how to use three of these tools: The Microsoft Management Console (MMC), Local Security Policy, and the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security. Enjoy!

Microsoft Management Console (MMC)

The MMC is a special console window meant to act as a sort of shell or index where a user can group other console windows together. When working with the MMC, these console windows are known as snap-ins. Examples of snap-ins include the Device Manager, Event Viewer, and Computer Management. The beauty of the MMC is that a user can build a custom group of consoles. Plus, the MMC can be saved, enabling it to remember the last place a user was working in.

After the MMC has been created, it makes for more efficient use of time, eliminating much of the time spent navigating to commonly used administrative utilities. This becomes even more of a time-saver when working with Windows Server products. But watch out[md]the more snap-ins added to the MMC, the more resources the MMC uses!

Windows Vista uses the MMC version 3. To better interoperate with networked Vista computers, Windows XP can be upgraded via download from the default MMC version 2 to version 3.

The following screencast shows how to open an MMC, add snap-ins, save the MMC, and create shortcuts to it.

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To access the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), press Windows+R to bring up the Run prompt and type MMC.

To add a snap-in, click File > Add/Remove Snap-in. This will open the Add or Remove Snap-ins window. Next, from the list on the left, select the desired snap-in and click the Add button. You will need to select which computer you would like to control. Usually, and by default, this will be the local computer.

To subsequently open the MMC, go to Start > All Programs > Administrative Tools > Console1 (or other MMC name if you selected a different one).

To create a shortcut to the MMC, go to Start > All Programs > Administrative Tools. Then right-click the MMC and select Send To > Desktop (create shortcut). To create a shortcut key, right-click the shortcut on the desktop and select Properties. Then click in the Shortcut key window, and press the key combination that you would like to use to open the shortcut. Click OK and the shortcut key should bind to the program. To add a shortcut to the Quick Launch area, just drag the shortcut from the desktop directly to the Quick Launch, or from the Start menu to the Quick Launch.

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