How to use the Configuration Manager console

Applies to: Configuration Manager (current branch)

Administrators use the Configuration Manager console to manage the Configuration Manager environment. This article covers the fundamentals of navigating the console.

Open the console

The Configuration Manager console is always installed on every site server. You can also install it on other computers. For more information, see Install the Configuration Manager console.

The simplest method to open the console on a Windows 10 computer, press Start and start typing Configuration Manager console. You may not need to type the entire string for Windows to find the best match.

If you browse the Start menu, look for the Configuration Manager console icon in the Microsoft Endpoint Manager group.

Microsoft Endpoint Manager start menu icons

Note

The Start menu path changed in version 1910. In version 1906 and earlier, the folder name is System Center. When you update Configuration Manager to version 1910 or later, make sure to update any internal documentation that you maintain to include this new location.

Connect to a site server

The console connects to your central administration site server or to your primary site servers. You can't connect a Configuration Manager console to a secondary site. During installation, you specified the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the site server to which the console connects.

To connect to a different site server, use the following steps:

  1. Select the arrow at the top of the ribbon, and choose Connect to a New Site.

    Connect the console to a new site

  2. Type in the FQDN of the site server. If you've previously connected to site server, select the server from the drop-down list.

    Site Connection window, enter the FQDN of the site server

  3. Select Connect.

Starting in version 1810, you can specify the minimum authentication level for administrators to access Configuration Manager sites. This feature enforces administrators to sign in to Windows with the required level. For more information, see Plan for the SMS Provider.

Some areas of the console may not be visible depending on your assigned security role. For more information about roles, see Fundamentals of role-based administration.

Workspaces

The Configuration Manager console has four workspaces:

  • Assets and Compliance

  • Software Library

  • Monitoring

  • Administration

Configuration Manager workspaces with context menu

Reorder workspace buttons by selecting the down arrow and choosing Navigation Pane Options. Select an item to Move Up or Move Down. Select Reset to restore the default button order.

Navigation Pane Options window to reorder workspaces

Minimize a workspace button by selecting Show Fewer Buttons. The last workspace in the list is minimized first. Select a minimized button and choose Show More Buttons to restore the button to its original size.

Minimized workspaces in the Configuration Manager console

Nodes

Workspaces are a collection of nodes. One example of a node is the Software Update Groups node in the Software Library workspace.

Once you are in the node, you can select the arrow to minimize the navigation pane.

Example node and highlight minimize arrow

Use the navigation bar to move around the console when you minimize the navigation pane.

Configuration Manager minimized navigation pane

In the console, nodes are sometimes organized into folders. When you select the folder, it usually displays a navigation index or a dashboard.

Configuration Manager software updates navigation index

Ribbon

The ribbon is at the top of the Configuration Manager console. The ribbon can have more than one tab and can be minimized using the arrow on the right. The buttons on the ribbon change based on the node. Most of the buttons in the ribbon are also available on context menus.

Example ribbon, highlighting multiple tabs and minimize arrow

Details pane

You can get additional information about items by reviewing the details pane. The details pane can have one or more tabs. The tabs vary depending on the node.

Configuration Manager example details pane

Columns

You can add, remove, reorder, and resize columns. These actions allow you to display the data you prefer. Available columns vary depending on the node. To add or remove a column from your view, right-click on an existing column heading and select an item. Reorder columns by dragging the column heading where you would like it to be.

Configuration Managers add column

At the bottom of the column context menu, you can sort or group by a column. Additionally, you can sort by a column by selecting its header.

Configuration Manager group by column

Reclaim lock for editing objects

If the Configuration Manager console stops responding, you can be locked out of making further changes until the lock expires after 30 minutes. This lock is part of the Configuration Manager SEDO (Serialized Editing of Distributed Objects) system. For more information, see Configuration Manager SEDO.

Starting in current branch version 1906, you could clear your lock on a task sequence. Starting in version 1910, you can clear your lock on any object in the Configuration Manager console.

This action only applies to your user account that has the lock, and on the same device from which the site granted the lock. When you attempt to access a locked object, you can now Discard Changes, and continue editing the object. These changes would be lost anyway when the lock expired.

View recently connected consoles

Starting in version 1902, you can view the most recent connections for the Configuration Manager console. The view includes active connections and those connections that recently connected. You'll always see your current console connection in the list and you only see connections from the Configuration Manager console. You won't see PowerShell or other SDK-based connections to the SMS Provider. The site removes instances from the list that are older than 30 days.

Prerequisites to view connected consoles

  • Your account needs the Read permission on the SMS_Site object

  • Install IIS on the SMS Provider server

  • Enable the SMS Provider to use a certificate. Use one of the following options:

    • Enable Enhanced HTTP (recommended)
    • Manually bind a PKI-based certificate to port 443 in IIS on the server that hosts the SMS Provider role
  • The Administration Service must be enabled for the Last Console Heartbeat to function (introduced in version 1910).

View connected consoles

  1. In the Configuration Manager console, go to the Administration workspace.

  2. Expand Security and select the Console Connections node.

  3. View the recent connections, with the following properties:

    • User name
    • Machine name
    • Connected site code
    • Console version
    • Last connected time: When the user last opened the console
    • Starting in version 1910, the Last Console Heartbeat column has replaced the Last Connected Time column.
      • The Administration Service must be enabled for the Last Console Heartbeat to function.
      • An open console in the foreground sends a heartbeat every 10 minutes.

View Configuration Manager console connections

Message administrators from Console Connections

(Introduced in version 1910)

Starting in version 1910, you can message other Configuration Manager administrators from the Console Connections node. When you choose to message an administrator, Microsoft Teams is launched and a chat is opened with the user.

Prerequisites for messaging administrators

Message administrators

  1. Go to Administration > Security > Console Connections.
  2. Right-click on a user's console connection and select Message Administrator.
    • If the User Principal Name isn't found for the selected administrator, Message Administrator is grayed out.
    • An error message, including a download link, appears if Microsoft Teams isn't installed on the device from which you run the console.
    • If Microsoft Teams is installed on the device from which you run the console, it will open a chat with the user.

Message administrators with Microsoft Teams screenshot

Known issues

The error message notifying you that Microsoft Teams isn't installed won't be displayed if the following Registry key doesn't exist:

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall

To work around the issue, manually create the Registry key.

Configuration Manager console notifications

Starting in Configuration Manager version 1902, the console notifies you for the following events:

  • When an update is available for Configuration Manager itself
  • When lifecycle and maintenance events occur in the environment

This notification is a bar at the top of the console window below the ribbon. It replaces the previous experience when Configuration Manager updates are available. These in-console notifications still display critical information, but don't interfere with your work in the console. You can't dismiss critical notifications. The console displays all notifications in a new notification area of the title bar.

Notification bar and flag in console

Configure a site to show non-critical notifications

You can configure each site to show non-critical notifications in the properties of the site.

  1. In the Administration workspace, expand Site Configuration, then select the Sites node.
  2. Select the site you want to configure for non-critical notifications.
  3. In the ribbon, select Properties.
  4. On the Alerts tab, select the option to Enable console notifications for non-critical site health changes.
    • If you enable this setting, all console users see critical, warning, and information notifications. This setting is enabled by default.
    • If you disable this setting, console users only see critical notifications.

Most console notifications are per session. The console evaluates queries when a user launches it. To see changes in the notifications, restart the console. If a user dismisses a non-critical notification, it notifies again when the console restarts if it's still applicable.

The following notifications reevaluate every five minutes:

  • Site is in maintenance mode
  • Site is in recovery mode
  • Site is in upgrade mode

Notifications follow the permissions of role-based administration. For example, if a user doesn't have permissions to see Configuration Manager updates, they won't see those notifications.

Some notifications have a related action. For example, if the console version doesn't match the site version, select Install the new console version. This action launches the console installer.

The following notifications are most applicable to the technical preview branch:

  • Evaluation version is within 30 days of expiration (Warning): the current date is within 30 days of the expiration date of the evaluation version
  • Evaluation version is expired (Critical): the current date is past the expiration date of the evaluation version
  • Console version mismatch (Critical): the console version doesn't match the site version
  • Site upgrade is available (Warning): there's a new update package available

For more information and troubleshooting assistance, see the SmsAdminUI.log file on the console computer. By default, this log file is at the following path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Configuration Manager\AdminConsole\AdminUILog\SmsAdminUI.log.

In-console documentation dashboard

Starting in Configuration Manager version 1902, there's a Documentation node in the new Community workspace. This node includes up-to-date information about Configuration Manager documentation and support articles. It includes the following sections:

Product documentation library

  • Recommended: a manually curated list of important articles.
  • Trending: the most popular articles for the last month.
  • Recently updated: articles revised in the last month.

Support articles

  • Troubleshooting articles: guided walkthroughs to assist with troubleshooting Configuration Manager components and features.
  • New and updated support articles: articles that are new or updated in the last two months.

Troubleshooting connection errors

The Documentation node has no explicit proxy configuration. It uses any OS-defined proxy in the Internet Options control panel applet. To retry after a connection error, refresh the Documentation node.

Command-line options

The Configuration Manager console has the following command-line options:

Option Description
/sms:debugview=1 A DebugView is included in all ResultViews that specify a view. DebugView shows raw properties (names and values).
/sms:NamespaceView=1 Shows namespace view in the console.
/sms:ResetSettings The console ignores user-persisted connection and view states. The window size isn't reset.
/sms:IgnoreExtensions Disables any Configuration Manager extensions.
/sms:NoRestore The console ignores previous persisted node navigation.

Tips

General

Role based administration for folders

(Introduced in version 1906)

You can set security scopes on folders. If you have access to an object in the folder but don't have access to the folder, you'll be unable to see the object. Similarly, if you have access to a folder but not an object within it, you won't see that object. Right-click a folder, choose Set Security Scopes, then choose the security scopes you want to apply.

Views sort by integer values

(Introduced in version 1902)

We've made improvements to how various views sort data. For example, in the Deployments node of the Monitoring workspace, the following columns now sort as numbers instead of string values:

  • Number Errors​
  • Number In Progress​
  • Number Other​
  • Number Success​
  • Number Unknown​

Move the warning for a large number of results

(Introduced in version 1902)

When you select a node in the console that returns more than 1,000 results, Configuration Manager displays the following warning:

Configuration Manager returned a large number of results. You can narrow your results by using search. Or, click here to view a maximum of 100000 results.

There's now additional blank space in between this warning and the search field. This move helps to prevent inadvertently selecting the warning to display more results.

Send feedback

(Introduced in version 1806)

Submit product feedback from the console.

  • Send a smile: Send feedback on what you liked

  • Send a frown: Send feedback on what you didn't like

  • Send a suggestion: Takes you to UserVoice to share your idea

For more information, see Product Feedback.

Assets and Compliance workspace

Real-time actions from device lists

(Introduced in version 1906)

There are various ways to display a list of devices under the Devices node in the Assets and Compliance workspace.

  • In the Assets and Compliance workspace, select the Device Collections node. Select a device collection, and choose the action to Show members. This action opens a subnode of the Devices node with a device list for that collection.

    • When you select the collection subnode, you can now start CMPivot from the Collection group of the ribbon.
  • In the Monitoring workspace, select the Deployments node. Select a deployment, and choose the View Status action in the ribbon. In the deployment status pane, double-click the total assets to drill-through to a device list.

    • When you select a device in this list, you can now start CMPivot and Run Scripts from the Device group of the ribbon.

Collections tab in devices node

(Introduced in version 1906)

In the Assets and Compliance workspace, go to the Devices node, and select a device. In the details pane, switch to the new Collections tab. This tab lists the collections that include this device.

Note

  • This tab currently isn't available from a devices subnode under the Device Collections node. For example, when you select the option to Show Members on a collection.
  • This tab may not populate as expected for some users. To see the complete list of collections a device belongs to, you must have the Full Administrator security role. This is a known issue.

Add SMBIOS GUID column to device and device collection nodes

(Introduced in version 1906)

In both the Devices and Device Collections nodes, you can now add a new column for SMBIOS GUID. This value is the same as the BIOS GUID property of the System Resource class. It's a unique identifier for the device hardware.

Search device views using MAC address

(Introduced in version 1902)

You can search for a MAC address in a device view of the Configuration Manager console. This property is useful for OS deployment administrators while troubleshooting PXE-based deployments. When you view a list of devices, add the MAC Address column to the view. Use the search field to add the MAC Address search criteria.

View users for a device

Starting in version 1806, the following columns are available in the Devices node:

For more information on how to show a non-default column, see Columns.

Improvement to device search performance

Starting in version 1806, when searching in a device collection, it doesn't search the keyword against all object properties. When you're not specific about what to search, it searches across the following four properties:

  • Name
  • Primary user(s)
  • Currently logged on user
  • Last logon user name

This behavior significantly improves the time it takes to search by name, especially in a large environment. Custom searches by specific criteria are unaffected by this change.

Software Library workspace

Order by program name in task sequence

(Introduced in version 1906)

In the Software Library workspace, expand Operating Systems, and select the Task Sequences node. Edit a task sequence, and select or add the Install Package step. If a package has more than one program, the drop-down list now sorts the programs alphabetically.

Task sequences tab in applications node

(Introduced in version 1906)

In the Software Library workspace, expand Application Management, go to the Applications node, and select an application. In the details pane, switch to the new Task sequences tab. This tab lists the task sequences that reference this application.

Drill through required updates

(Introduced in version 1906)

  1. Go to one of the following places in the Configuration Manager console:

    • Software Library > Software Updates > All Software Updates
    • Software Library > Windows 10 Servicing > All Windows 10 Updates
    • Software Library > Office 365 Client Management > Office 365 Updates
  2. Select any update that is required by at least one device.

  3. Look at the Summary tab and find the pie chart under Statistics.

  4. Select the View Required hyperlink next to the pie chart to drill down into the device list.

  5. This action takes you to a temporary node under Devices where you can see the devices requiring the update. You can also take actions for the node such as creating a new collection from the list.

Maximize the browse registry window

(Introduced in version 1902)

  1. In the Software Library workspace, expand Application Management, and select the Applications node.
  2. Select an application that has a deployment type with a detection method. For example, a Windows Installer detection method.
  3. In the details pane, switch to the Deployment Types tab.
  4. Open the properties of a deployment type, and switch to the Detection Method tab. Select Add Clause.
  5. Change the Setting Type to Registry and select Browse to open the Browse Registry window. You can now maximize this window.

Edit a task sequence by default

(Introduced in version 1902)

In the Software Library workspace, expand Operating Systems, and select the Task Sequences node. Edit is now the default action when opening a task sequence. Previously the default action was Properties.

Go to the collection from an application deployment

(Introduced in version 1902)

  1. In the Software Library workspace, expand Application Management, and select the Applications node.
  2. Select an application. In the details pane, switch to the Deployments tab.
  3. Select a deployment, and then choose the new Collection option in the ribbon on the Deployment tab. This action switches the view to the collection that's the target of the deployment.
    • This action is also available from the right-click context menu on the deployment in this view.

Monitoring workspace

Correct names for client operations

(Introduced in version 1906)

In the Monitoring workspace, select Client Operations. The operation to Switch to next Software Update Point is now properly named.

Show collection name for scripts

(Introduced in version 1906)

In the Monitoring workspace, select the Script Status node. It now lists the Collection Name in addition to the ID.

Remove content from monitoring status

(Introduced in version 1902)

  1. In the Monitoring workspace, expand Distribution Status, and select Content Status.
  2. Select an item in the list, and choose the View Status option in the ribbon.
  3. In the Asset Details pane, right-click a distribution point, and select the new option Remove. This action removes this content from the selected distribution point.

Copy details in monitoring views

(Introduced in version 1806)

Copy information from the Asset Details pane for the following monitoring nodes:

  • Content Distribution Status

  • Deployment Status

Deployment Status view, copy asset details

Administration workspace

Starting in version 1906, you can enable some nodes under the Security node to use the administration service. This change allows the console to communicate with the SMS Provider over HTTPS instead of via WMI. For more information, see Administration service.

Next steps

Accessibility features

Task sequence editor