Tips for Finding Objects in the Configuration Manager 2012 Console
Published Sep 07 2018 08:06 PM 856 Views
First published on CloudBlogs on Jun, 27 2011

[Today's post comes from Min Yang ]

1.   Introduction

In System Center Configuration Manager 2012, the Configuration Manager console has been greatly improved to enhance its usability. In addition to improvements in performance and layout, there are also a couple of new features to address the “how to find objects quickly” problem. This blog posts introduces the following useful features:

  • Organizational folders
  • Administrative categories
  • Search

2.   Organizational Folders

If you are familiar with Configuration Manager 2007, you know that organizational folders are not a new concept. They provide a similar experience to folders in the Windows file system, where they can be used to organize objects.

Typically, you can create a folder structure before you generate content, and then create or import content to be stored inside these folders. This makes it easier to organize content. There are many approaches you can use to set up a hierarchy of folders. For example, you can create folders that align with functional organizations, or folders by work flow, or whatever you like.

To create a folder, right-click the node or existing folder under which you want to place that folder, click Folder , and then click Create Folder - as shown in the following picture.

You can select multiple objects and move these to a folder at the same time. Select all the objects that you want to move, right-click an object, and then click Move - as shown in the following picture.

Note that any folder hierarchy that you have created is also shown when you use the Browse option to select objects in Wizards and dialog boxes, as shown in the next picture.

Benefits of using organizational folders:

  • Each folder  is shown separately in the Configuration Manager console
  • Folders can be hierarchically structured
  • Objects can be created within folders
  • Many objects can be moved to a folder at the same time

Limitations of using organizational folders include the following:

  • Objects can belong to one folder only
  • You cannot view objects in multiple folders at the same time. Instead, use search when you want to do this.
  • Organizational folders are not securable objects, so they are always visible and available to all administrative users.
  • Folders can be deleted only when they are empty

Object types that support organizational folders:

  • Deployments
  • Boot images
  • Configuration items
  • Configuration baselines
  • Driver packages
  • Drivers
  • Operating system images
  • Packages
  • Queries
  • Software metering rules
  • Software updates
  • Task sequences
  • User state migration data
  • Collections  (new in Configuration Manager 2012)
  • Applications (new in Configuration Manager 2012)

3.   Administrative Categories

Administrative categories provide an alternative solution to organizational folders.  Instead of using a hierarchical structure, administrative categories allow you to classify an object with tags of your choosing. Unlike organizational folders, you can keep all objects in one list view and sort them by category to make them easier to find.

You might also use administrative categories when an administrative user does not have security permissions to move objects into a particular organizational folder. In this scenario, the administrative user could add objects to an administrative category, which a higher-level administrative user can then use later to locate the objects.

You can assign an object to an administrative category by using a number of different methods:

You can assign the object when you create an object:

Or you can add and remove administrative categories to objects with a single click:

Benefits of using administrative categories:

  • Objects can be associated with multiple administrative categories
  • Administrative categories do not have to be associated with a hierarchical structure and they are easy to create
  • They can be viewed and searched in a list view

Limitations of using administrative categories:

  • There is no view for individual administrative categories; they must be used in conjunction with search or grouping
  • An administrative category can be deleted even if has objects associated with it

Objects that support administrative categories:

  • Configuration items
  • Configuration baselines
  • Drivers
  • Applications

4.   Search

In Configuration Manager 2012, search is completely redesigned to be more powerful: Similarly to how search works in Outlook 2012, you can now use free-text searches or criteria search, and set the search scope to the current node or folder, subfolders, or all objects.

4.1.            Free text search

This is the simplest form of search. Type in any keyword in the filter bar at the top of the list view. The result will be filtered to objects that have the keyword in any property. Note that the property column with the matched text might not be shown in the list view, but you can right-click any column header at the top of the list view to add this property column.  Also note, that if the default scope for the operation is set to “Current Node”, then objects from other nodes, or subfolders will not be searched.

4.2.            Criteria Searching

You can fine-tune searches by adding other known values as criteria for your search. When you click Add Criteria , new boxes are displayed for you to provide these values. Criteria for the same property are combined by “OR” logic, and criteria for different properties are combined by “AND” logic. For example, an application administrator can search for an application that is associated with the administrative categories “Productivity” or “Finance”, which have been deployed less than twice.

4.3.            Current node search and Subfolder search

By default, a search is scoped to the current node. Because folders have their own nodes in the Configuration Manager console, you can also scope a search on the current folder and all its subfolders. Both free text search and criteria search can use these scopes.

Use the Folder and all subfolder scope to search for all objects in a selected tree.

4.4.            Search All Objects

If you are looking for specific content but are not sure in which node to look, use a global search. Select All Objects on the Search ribbon tab to set the search scope to be global, and then enter free text in the search text box. This returns matches across all applicable object types and all properties.  The result list is interactive, and the workspace information is shown to help you find them in the console.

Benefits of using search:

  • Objects do not have to be in folders or categorized to be found
  • Search queries can be saved for reuse and sharing
  • Powerful tool for searching automatically generated content such as software updates
  • Can be both heuristic (free text search) or precise (criteria search)
  • Applies to all objects

Limitations of using search:

  • Because global search searches all object types, it might take longer to retrieve the result set.
  • Saved criteria in searches is available and visible to all administrative users, which might make data visible that you didn’t intend to be visible.

5.   Summary

This blog post compared three new features of the Configuration Manager console – organizational folders, administrative categories and search. Use the following table as a summary comparison.

Organizational Folders

Administrative Categories


Supported objects

15 types

4 types

All types

Viewing experience

Individual nodes, tree-like view

An attribute of object

In list view result

Replication through Hierarchy



Yes except for saved global search


Object can belong to one folder only

Objects  can be associated with multiple categories

Any object that satisfies the criteria is shown in the results

Object organization

You can create objects in the folder and you can move multiple objects

You can create objects with associated categories and you can modify multiple categories

Saved search automatically applies


Folders visible to all administrative users; objects and actions are secured by permissions

Objects and actions are secured by permissions

Saved criteria is visible to all administrative users; result objects are secured by permissions

When you use one or more of these features, you can more efficiently use the Configuration Manager console to manage your environment with Configuration Manager 2012.

-- Min Yang

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties and confers no rights.

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