Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 is a powerful tool that can tame even the most chaotic desktop environments. Unfortunately, out of the box, the administrative console has some holes. The independent developer community took it upon themselves to correct this oversight and made life much easier for system admins by releasing the free SCCM Right Click Tools add-in.
SCCM Right Click Tools is the combination of the original Systems Management Server (SMS) Console Additions and some new features, such as the ability to see computer details and security compliance web reports for a single client inside a collections and the ability to check the status of an advertisement with a simple right click action.
Since the initial release, SCCM Right Click Tools has gone through nine more releases, culminating in a 2.0 release on 4/1/2010. At this point, there are tons of features in SCCM Right Click Tools, which include:
- Added an extension to the client tools that will tell you what collection a user or system belongs to.
- Added all the client actions from the control panel including the Security Updates Scan and Security Updates Deployment Evaluation.
- Added a web report to show all the advertisements for a certain system.
- Added the Software Updates Scan Cycle to the Collection root so it runs not just on one client but on an entire collection.
- Added New Tool to re-run advertisements from a drop-down list.
- Added the ability to run client actions from query results.
- Added Reboot/Shutdown options for client machines.
How to use SCCM Right Click Tools
Here's a look at some of what's possible with SCCM Right Click Tools.In Figures A and B, you see how to copy and paste a list of machines so they are all added to a selected collection. Figure A shows how to start the process, and Figure B shows the screen to which you paste the list of machine names. Figure A
Use the right-click shortcut menu to initiate the process.Figure B
Type in or paste a list of machines that should be added to the collection.One of the beauties of SCCM is that it allows you to centrally manage your entire desktop environment. With SCCM Right Click Tools, you can quickly shut down and restart managed clients through a right-click shortcut (Figure C). Figure C
Access the ability to shut down or restart a client.With SCCM Right Click Tools, I can refresh any client policies I like without having to remote into each client (Figure D). Figure D
Be more efficient by manually refreshing client policies.The SCCM Right Click Tools add-in allows you to connect to a client in about a dozen ways (Figure E). You can connect to the root of the C drive, start Computer Management, repair the SCCM client, show a list of running processes, and more. Figure E
Connect to a client via various ways.If you want to require all clients in a selected collection to refresh a policy, you can do this by right-clicking the collection and choosing the appropriate shortcut (Figure F). Figure F
Force an entire collection into a policy refresh.
How SCCM Right Click Tools saves me time
Even though it's easier now than it used to be to add individual systems to an existing collection, as our IT department furthers our use of SCCM, we wanted to be able to copy and paste a list of computer names into a collection. SCCM Right Click Tools provides that functionality and makes it a breeze.
In addition, during testing, I tend to get impatient (I really hate waiting for clients to refresh policy before advertisements are consumed), so I connect to the client and initiate a manual refresh. Now I can initiate a policy refresh right from the SCCM administrative console.
Although these are pretty basic tasks, the SCCM Right Click Tools add-in saves me a lot of time.
Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive with CampusWorks, Inc. Scott is available for consulting, writing, and speaking engagements and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.