Creating Custom MMC Consoles

As mentioned earlier in the series, it is possible to create custom MMC consoles that restrict the administrative tools that a user has access to. For example, you could create a custom tool that includes access to AD Users and Computers as well as Event Viewer.

To do this, open an empty MMC window (mmc.exe from Run), choose Add/Remove Snap-ins from the Console menu item, and then add the appropriate tools. In saving the tool, there are two major options available, Author Mode and User Mode. In User Mode, the user cannot make changes to the console (which is good if you want a consistent environment). In Author mode, a user could add or remove snap-ins, for example. The mode should be selected prior to saving the tool, using the Options setting under the Console menu item.

Note that a user can still right-click a saved console and open it in Author mode by default. This can be restricted via group policy, but can also be easily accomplished by only giving the user the NTFS read permission to the file. Note that the consoles you create do not actually contain the tools. In order for a user to access the administrative tools with the console, Adminpak.msi (the installer for the administrative tools) must be installed on their machines. After you have created and customized MMC consoles, they can easily be distributed via group policy or as email attachments.

Another option that is a little different than creating custom MMC consoles is creating what are called Taskpads. These are still administrative consoles, albeit simplified versions. The idea is that you might create Taskpads for users with limited administrative knowledge, such as a junior staff member who you want to create computer accounts for you. Taskpads are created by right clicking the appropriate object (such as an OU) within the MMC console and choosing New Taskpad View (the interface is really not consistent – you may need to choose the ‘New Windows from here’ option first). A wizard will walk you through the Taskpad and task creation process. Taskpads can also be used to launch scripts such as batch files through the Taskpad interface, which is useful if you’ve scripted a complex task that you want a less experience user to be able to run.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.