Microsoft Management Console, also known as MMC, is a general-purpose management tool that’s used to administer many different types of objects on a Windows system.
By itself, MMC doesn’t actually manage anything. Instead, it’s a framework that accepts management snap-ins. It’s the snap-ins that do the actual managing. The main point of MMC is that it provides a consistent framework for building management snap-ins. That way, the snap-ins all behave in similar ways. As a result, you don’t have to struggle to learn completely different tools to manage various aspects of Windows Server 2008.
Another advantage of MMC is that you can create your own custom management consoles with just the right combination of snap-ins. For example, suppose that you spend most of your time managing user accounts, disk devices, and IIS (Internet Information Services, the web server that comes with Windows Server 2008), and studying event logs. You can easily craft a management console with just these four snap-ins.
There are several ways to open a Microsoft Management Console window. The easiest is to open one of the predefined consoles that come with Windows Server 2008. These consoles are available from the Start→Administrative Tools menu.
You can also start MMC from a command prompt or from the Run dialog box (opened by choosing Start→Run). To start MMC without opening a snap-in, just type mmc at a command prompt or in the Run dialog box. To open a specific console, type the path to the console file after mmc. For example, the following command opens the Computer Management console:
A typical Microsoft Management Console window follows, displaying the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in. As you can see, the MMC window consists of two panes. The pane on the left is a tree pane that displays a hierarchical tree of the objects that you can manage. The pane on the right is a details pane that shows detailed information about the object that’s selected in the tree pane.
The procedures for working with the information in the Details pane vary depending on the console you’re viewing. However, most of the consoles display a list of some kind, such as a list of settings or a list of user accounts.
Double-clicking an item usually brings up a properties box that lets you view or set properties for the object. In most cases, you can click the column headings at the top of the list to change the order in which the list items are displayed.
MMC also includes a menu and toolbar with commands and buttons that vary depending on the item selected in the tree. In particular, the Action menu contains commands that apply to the current item. For example, the Action menu includes a New User command when you’re working with the Active Directory Users and Computers console and a Defragment command when you view the Disk Defragmenter item in the Computer Management Console.
As you work with different items within the different consoles, be sure to check the Action menu frequently to find out what commands are available.