Many of the system tools that come with Windows XP are already in a console form. They can be used alone or as snap-ins to a console that contains a collection of applications. The sidebar on the right lists the preconfigured consoles most commonly used. These are found in the folder \Windows\System32\. Depending on your setup, there may be some in other locations as well. (Some of these come only with the XP Professional version.) Note that the consoles have the extension msc (not to be confused with MMC). Most of these consoles can be opened by entering their names (including the extension) in the Start-Run line. Some, but not all, are also accessible from Control Panel. Depending on how your computer is set up, some may also be listed in Start-All Programs-Administrative Tools. As is common in Windows there are also several other ways to open some of the tools. However, using the Run line is probably the easiest way. (A few consoles intended mainly for systems administrators may be in folders not included in the standard path environment and will need the Run line browse function)
Some of the consoles that have specialized purposes for use by systems administrators may not normally be of interest to the average PC user. However, routine system maintenance and management involves many and these are discussed below.
Computer Management Console
This preconfigured console has most of the system tools that an average PC user may need. It can be opened by entering "compmgmt.msc" into the Start-Run line. An alternate way is to right-click on Start-My Computer and choose "Manage" from the context menu. Yet another way is through Control Panel-Performance and Maintenance-Administrative Tools. The figure below shows one view of this console. The interface is very much like a Windows Explorer window.
There are a number of views and configurations for a console but the defaults are probably sufficient for most average PC users. Those who wish to go into more details of the various console settings and capabilities can consult The Elder Geek.
Note that this version of the Computer Management Console contains 11 other consoles as snap-ins. These are grouped into three folders or categories. Among the most commonly used of the tools are Disk Defragmenter and Disk Management (in the folder Storage), and Services (in the folder Services and Applications) which are discussed in more detail on other pages.
If you wish to have a console containing only the snap-ins that you commonly use, it is very easy to create your own version. Go to Start-Run and enter "mmc" (without quotes). A blank console will open as shown below.
To add snap-ins, open the "File" menu and choose "Add/Remove Snap-in". The next figure will open.
Choose the tab "Standalone" and click "Add". The next figure giving a list of possible snap-ins will open. Not all of these will be msc consoles but some ActiveX controls will also be shown.
In the figure we have chosen the Computer Management Console as a snap-in. Click "Add" and continue to select and add components as desired. Note that the tree structure means that you can add folders and organize the snap-ins according to personal preference.
Common prefigured consoles
The files listed in the table below are preconfigured consoles found in the folder \Windows\System32\ (Some are found only in Windows XP Professional.)
Another console called Component Services (comexp.msc) is located in a different folder, \Windows\System32\com\, which is not in the standard path. It is usually opened from All Programs-Administrative Tools or Control Panel-Performance and Maintenance-Administrative Tools.
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