Windows Server 2019 – MMC and MSC shortcuts

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You have probably noticed that many of the management consoles that we utilize to configure components inside Windows Server 2019 look pretty similar. What happens under the hood with a number of these consoles is that you are actually looking at a snap-in function, a specific set of tools that are snapped into a generic console tool called the Microsoft Management Console, more commonly referred to as MMC. In fact, rather than open all of these management functions from inside Server Manager, for many of them, you could simply type MMC by navigating to Start | Run or in Command Prompt, and invoke the generic MMC console. From here, you can click on the File menu and choose Add or Remove Snap-ins:

Choose the management snap-in that you would like to work in, and add it to the console. There are a great number of management functions that can be accessed through the standard MMC console, and even some particular functions where MMC is the preferred, or perhaps the only, method to interact with some components of Windows. For example, later in our book we will look into certificate stores within Windows Server 2019, and we will be utilizing MMC for some of that interaction.

Another interesting way to open up many of the management consoles is by using their direct MSC tool name. An MSC file is simply a saved configuration of an MMC console session. There are many MSC shortcuts stored in Windows Server 2019 out of the box. If a given management console provides the capability of being launched by an MSC, all you need to do is type in the name of the MSC by navigating to either Start | Run or in Command Prompt or a PowerShell window, and it will immediately launch into that particular management console without needing to snap anything in, and without needing to open Server Manager whatsoever. Since I tend to prefer using a keyboard over a mouse, I always have a PowerShell window or Command Prompt open on each system I’m working with, and I can very quickly use that window to open up any of my MSC administrative consoles. Let’s show one example, so that you know exactly how to use this functionality, and then I will provide a list of the common MSCs which I find useful on a day-to-day basis.

Open an elevated PowerShell window, type WF.MSC, and press Enter:

The Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security window will open, and is ready to accept input from you. We didn’t have to poke through Control Panel, or open the regular Windows Firewall and then click on the Advanced Settings link, which are the common ways to get into this console by using a mouse. By knowing our MSC shortcut name, we were able to take a direct route to opening the full WFAS console, which is where I often go to check over particular firewall rules or status:

Now that you’ve seen how an MSC command works, and again there are many different places where you can type in the name of an MSC and invoke it, I want to leave you with a list of common MSC consoles that you can use to quickly gain access to many administrative consoles on your servers:

  • DSA.MSC: Active Directory Users and Computers
  • DSSITE.MSC: Active Directory Sites and Services
  • DNSMGMT.MSC: DNS Manager
  • GPEDIT.MSC: Local Group Policy Editor
  • GPMC.MSC: Group Policy Management Console
  • CERTSRV.MSC: Certification Authority Management
  • CERTTMPL.MSC: Certificate Template Management
  • CERTLM.MSC: Local Computer Certificates Store
  • CERTMGR.MSC: Current User Certificates Store
  • COMPMGMT.MSC: Computer Management
  • DEVMGMT.MSC: Device Manager
  • DISKMGMT.MSC: Disk Management
  • EVENTVWR.MSC: Event Viewer
  • PERFMON.MSC: Performance Monitor
  • SECPOL.MSC: Local Security Policy Console
  • FSMGMT.MSC: Shared Folders
  • WF.MSC: Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security

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