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Using Microsoft Management Console (part 2) - Creating Your Own MMC Consoles

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3/17/2011 4:52:16 PM

5. Creating Your Own MMC Consoles

Creating your own MMC console or modifying an existing one involves the following steps (not necessarily in this order):

  • Run MMC with no snap-in, or open an existing MMC console in Author mode.

  • Display the console tree if it's not already visible.

  • Add or remove snap-ins, folders, and, if appropriate, extensions (modules that extend the functionality of snap-ins).

  • Add taskpad views (customized pages that appear within the details pane of a snap-in), if appropriate.

  • Manipulate windows and other display elements to taste.

  • Add items to the Favorites menu if appropriate.

  • Name the console and choose an icon for it.

  • Choose Author mode or one of the three User modes, and further restrict user options if appropriate.

  • Use the File menu to save your .msc file.

5.1. Running MMC with No Snap-in

To run MMC with no snap-in, simply type mmc on a command line. An empty, Author-mode MMC console appears. MMC is a multiple-document-interface (MDI) application (the Console Root window is a child window), although most of the consoles supplied with Windows do their best to disguise this fact. You can create consoles with multiple child windows, and those windows can be maximized, minimized, restored, resized, moved, cascaded, and tiled, all within the confines of the main MMC window.

5.2. Displaying the Console Tree

If the console tree is not visible in the application you're creating or modifying, choose Customize View from the View menu. In the Customize View dialog box (shown earlier in Figure 2), select the Console Tree check box. Alternatively, if the standard toolbar is displayed, click the Show/Hide Console Tree button.

5.3. Adding Snap-ins and Extensions

The contents of a console can consist of a single snap-in, or you can craft a hierarchically organized, completely personalized, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink management tool. To add a snap-in to your application, follow these steps:

  1. Choose File, Add/Remove Snap-In (or press Ctrl+M) to display the dialog box shown in Figure 3.

    Figure 3. By default, MMC snap-ins are arranged in a single-level list.

  2. If you want a multilevel console tree, click Advanced, select Allow Changing The Parent Snap-In, and then click OK.

  3. In the Parent Snap-In list, select the parent of the new snap-in. The parent can be Console Root or a folder or snap-in that you've already added. (In a brand new MMC application, your only choice is Console Root.)

  4. In the Available Snap-Ins list, select the snap-in you want and click Add.

    If the selected snap-in supports remote management, a dialog box similar to the one shown in Figure 4 appears.

    Figure 4. Some snap-ins can be configured to manage another computer on your network. In this dialog box, specify which computer you want to manage.

  5. Select Local Computer to manage the computer on which the console runs, or supply the name of the computer you want to manage. Some snap-ins that allow remote management let you specify the target computer at run time by means of a command-line switch; select the check box to enable this option.

    Some snap-ins come with optional extensions. You can think of these as snap-ins for snap-ins—modules that provide additional functionality to the selected snap-in. Some snap-ins comprise many extensions, and you can optionally select which ones you want to enable or disable.

  6. To modify the extensions to a snap-in, select the snap-in in the Selected Snap-Ins list in the Add Or Remove Snap-Ins dialog box shown earlier in Figure 3, and then click Edit Extensions. Select which extensions you want to use. Click OK.

  7. Repeat steps 3 through 6 to add more snap-ins. Click OK when you're finished.

  8. If you added one or more folders as containers for other snap-ins, in the console tree right-click the new folder, choose Rename, and supply a meaningful name.

5.4. Adding Taskpad Views

A taskpad is a customized page that appears within the details pane of a snap-in. With it, you can create icons that encapsulate menu commands, command strings, scripts, URLs, and shortcuts to Favorites items. Navigational tabs at the bottom of a taskpad view make it easy for a user to switch between the taskpad view and a normal view of the same data.

To create a taskpad view, start by selecting an item in the console tree to which you want to apply the view. As you'll see, when you create your taskpad view, you have the option of applying it either only to the selected console-tree item or to all items at the same outline level.

Next, right-click the selected console-tree entry and choose New Taskpad View from the shortcut menu. The New Taskpad View wizard appears. The sample table at the right side of the wizard's second page makes the options rather self-explanatory. The default choices work well in most situations.

The default selections in the wizard's third screen apply the new taskpad view to all comparable console-tree items and make the taskpad the default view for those items. Moving on from this screen, you have the opportunity to assign a name and some descriptive text to the new view.

In the wizard's final screen, select Add New Tasks To This Taskpad After The Wizard Closes if you want to create one or more task shortcuts. This selection summons a new wizard that walks you through the process of creating your first shortcut. On the final page of this wizard, select When I Click Finish, Run This Wizard Again if you have additional shortcuts to create.

5.5. Managing Windows

With the New Window From Here command on the Action menu, you can create a new child window rooted in the current console-tree selection. You might want to use this command to create multiple-window applications. After you've created your windows, you can use Window menu commands to tile or cascade them.

5.6. Controlling Other Display Elements

The Customize View command on the View menu allows you to hide or display various elements of the MMC visual scene, including taskbars, menus, and the navigational tabs that appear below taskpad views. Note that selections in the Customize View dialog box  take effect immediately—you don't need to click an Apply button or leave the dialog box. Therefore, you can easily try each option and see whether you like it.

5.7. Using the Favorites Menu

The Favorites menu allows you to store pointers to places within your console tree. If you create a particularly complex MMC console, you might want to consider using Favorites to simplify navigation. To add a console-tree item to your list of favorites, select that item and then choose Add To Favorites from the Favorites menu.

5.8. Naming Your Console

To assign a name to your console, choose File, Options. Your entry in the field at the top of the Console tab in the Options dialog box will appear on the title bar of your console, regardless of the file name you apply to its .msc file. If you do not make an entry here, MMC replaces Console1 with the console's eventual file name. Click Change Icon to select an icon for the console. You can select an icon from any dynamic-link library (DLL) or executable file.


You can rename Console Root (or any other folder in the console tree) by right-clicking it and choosing Rename.

5.9. Restricting User Control of Your Console

In the Console Mode list on the Console tab of the Options dialog box (choose File, Options), you can select among MMC's three User modes. In any of these modes, users can't add or remove snap-ins, modify taskpad views, or make other changes to the console. The difference among the modes is how much of the console tree they're able to see and whether they can open new windows.

  • User Mode—Full Access Users have full access to the console tree and can open new windows, using either the New Window From Here or Window, New Window command. (Changes to the window arrangement can't be saved in User mode, however.)

  • User Mode—Limited Access, Multiple Window Users have access only to parts of the console tree that are visible. (For example, if you create a hierarchically organized console, open a new window from a node below the console root, and then close the console root window before saving, users will be unable to reach the console root and other nodes at or above the level at which the new window was opened.) Users can open new windows with the New Window From Here command, but the New Window command (which would provide access to the console root) does not appear on the Window menu.

  • User Mode—Limited Access, Single Window In this most restrictive mode, users have access only to parts of the console tree that are visible. MMC operates in single-window mode, essentially losing its MDI character; users can't open new document windows, nor can they resize the single document window.

If you choose one of the three User modes, the two check boxes at the bottom of the Options dialog box become available. Your choices are as follows:

  • Do Not Save Changes To This Console With this check box cleared (its default), MMC saves the state of your application automatically when a user closes it. The user's selection in the console tree, for example, is preserved from one use to the next. If you always want your users to see the same thing each time they run the console, select this check box.

  • Allow The User To Customize Views This check box, selected by default, keeps the Customize View command available, allowing your users, for example, to hide or display the console tree. Clear the check box if you want to deny users access to this option.

5.10. Saving a Console

The final step in the process of creating an MMC console is, of course, to save the file. Choose File, Save As; enter a file name in the Save As dialog box; and choose a location (the default location is the Administrative Tools folder in the Start Menu\Programs folder for your profile). Click Save. The resulting console file is saved with the .msc extension.

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