Command line for active directory users and computers

Last Updated on March 13, 2021 by Dave Farquhar

Sometimes it’s faster just to type a command than to dig around in the start menu. That’s especially true for many sysadmin tasks. Knowing the command line for active directory users and computers can save you a lot of time.

The obscure command line for Active Directory Users and Computers

command line for active directory users and computers
The command line for Active Directory Users and Computers is the non-obvious dsa.msc.

The command is dsa.msc, which you’d never think of on your own. But this deceptively short command is quick and easy to type. It also works from a command line, a run prompt (Windows key+R), or the start menu. Yes, on Windows 2008 or newer, you can just hit the Windows key and start typing.

If you do a lot of user account administration, having quick access to active directory users and computers instantly boosts your productivity. Those seven characters, dsa.msc, can be your secret weapon. You’ll be able to launch it in a matter of two or three seconds, depending on how long it takes for the applet to load. That’s probably less time than it takes to navigate the start menu and launch it the conventional way. Sysadmins are some of the busiest people in tech, so every second counts. And I’m not joking.

Getting dsa.msc on non-server computers

Having dsa.msc on your workstation can be an even bigger productivity boost, because then you don’t have to log onto a server. To get dsa.msc on your Windows 10 worsktation, click Start, type Manage Optional Features, and launch the applet. Click Add a Feature, then scroll down to (or type) RSAT: Active Directory Domain Services and Lightweight Directory Services Tools. Check the box next to it, then click Install.

The caveat to running Active Directory Users and Computers from your workstation is you have to be logged on as a domain administrator. Hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and select Switch User, log on as a domain admin, and then you can run dsa.msc and perfom other administrative tasks, then switch back to your non-privileged account.

Speaking of productivity boosts for sysadmins, I have a collection of scripting tips that can help you save additional time. If you already know your way around a command line, scripting is an easy next step.

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2 thoughts on “Command line for active directory users and computers

  • October 5, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Came here wondering – can you open ADUC with a parameter? So it opens and brings up that user/group straight away? Writing a Powershell script for user creation and it would be helpful to have it bring up that user for some manual tweaks afterwards 🙂 I’m guessing this isn’t possible though.

    • October 6, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      Interesting question and I don’t have a domain controller to experiment on at the moment. With it being an MSC snap-in now instead of an executable, I don’t think it’s possible anymore.

      You could try running dsa.msc /? and see if anything happens, but I have my doubts.

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