Exchange 2007: Get used to the command line

With the Exchange Management Shell, there are some things that you can do only from the new command line interface.

Like it or not, Microsoft has put a whole ton of effort into making Exchange 2007 completely manageable via a Windows PowerShell-based management interface. In fact, there are some things that you can do only from the new command line interface--not even the GUI can handle these tasks. The Exchange Management Shell, as it's called, is based on Windows PowerShell, which started with the code name Monad. The shell includes very good help features, but, with the complexity of Exchange itself, can get pretty complicated to use. I’m not going to get into providing shell examples in this tip (I will in future tips, though), but will share with you some things that may make using the shell easier.

To get started in the shell, go to Start > All Programs > Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 > Exchange Management Shell. This opens a window that looks a lot like a normal command window but, instead of using the old cmd.exe in the background, this is the new, rather plain-looking PowerShell.

To get a list of Exchange specific commands in the shell, type get-excommand. For a quick guide to getting started with the shell, use the command quickstart instead.

As I mentioned, the command shell can be fairly complex, but Microsoft tries to ease this complexity by, for some functions in the GUI command tool (Exchange Management Console), providing you with the complete command line syntax that would have performed the same job. For example, when you use the new mailbox wizard in the GUI, the summary page of the process outputs the command shell syntax. This can be incredibly useful if you want to ultimately be able to script Exchange events.

The new command shell is a very welcome addition to the Exchange tools family and makes Exchange management very flexible while providing administrators with a way to automate important functions.