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a blog by Sander Berkouwer

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New features in Active Directory Domain Services in Windows Server 2012, Part 5: PowerShell History Viewer

As we’ve seen in part 4 of this series, Active Directory Domain Services in Windows Server 2012 now sports a grand total of 145 PowerShell Cmdlets. Learning these commands and putting them to good use, might seem like a week’s worth, but actually, the PowerShell History Viewer in the Windows Server 2012 Active Directory Administrative Center (ADAC)helps you get started quickly.

To use this feature, first open the Active Directory Administrative Center (ADAC) on your Windows Server 2012-based Domain Controller, your Windows Server 2012-based Management Server or Windows 8-based Management workstation with the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) installed.

In the right bottom corner of the Active Directory Administrative Center screen, click on the up arrow in the bar called “Windows PowerShell History”. This flicks up a the Active Directory PowerShell History pane. The two screenshots below show the difference between the History viewer opened (right) and closed (left):

Active Directory Administrative Center with the PowerShell History Viewer closed (default) (click for larger screenshot) Active Directory Administrative Center with the PowerShell History Viewer opened (click for larger screenshot)

Now, when I would create a user, I would see the equivalent of the PowerShell steps involved to do so in the PowerShell History viewer:

Active Directory Administrative Center PowerShell History for creating user JosH (click for a larger screenshot)

As you can clearly, there is minimum of four PowerShell commands involved in creating a user account. If, for instance, you would enable accidental deletion protection, that would amount to a fifth step. Another notable thing is the absence of passwords in the PowerShell History Viewer. Passwords are all filtered out for security purposes.

At the top of the PowerShell History Viewer, there’s a Search field, four commands labeled Copy, Start Task, End Task and Clear All, along with a check box called Show All and the inevitable Help link. Here’s what they do:

  • Search
    Within the Search field, you can search in the PowerShell History to find a command. You can insert the first few letters of a Cmdlet and it will show you all the Cmdlets starting with these letters. You cannot search through entered values like first names.
  • Copy
    Use this command to copy out selected Cmdlets. You can copy multiple Cmdlets at once by holding down the Ctrl and/or Shift buttons while making your selection.
  • Start Task and End Task
    These two commands can be used to group a series of Cmdlets together for easy copying. You can give tasks meaningful names
  • Clear All
    This clears the entire history of PowerShell commands in the PowerShell History Viewer.
  • Show All
    This checkbox switches between showing only commands manipulating objects (off) and showing all commands, including the commands to browse around in the Active Directory Administrative Console (on). By default, this check box is off to allow for greater overview.

 

Concluding

The Active Directory PowerShell History Viewer makes it easy to learn the Active Directory PowerShell Cmdlets, by showing the equivalent PowerShell cmdlets, associated with actions in the Graphical User Interface of the Active Directory Administrative Center.

… and that’s not even the cutest trick up ADACs sleeve. Knipogende emoticon

Further reading

PCMag: Hands on: Windows Server 8 
Active Directory Administrative Center: Getting Started  
Introduction to Active Directory Administrative Center Enhancements    
Advanced AD DS Management Using Active Directory Administrative Center 
What is Windows PowerShell History Viewer in Windows Server 2012 
Caution To Be Used With AD Administrative Center PowerShell History Viewer  
Is there a version of the AD tools that provide the PowerShell output 
ServerManager PowerShell History Viewer

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