By Garth Jones
CMTrace is a real-time log file viewer for System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) Current Branch and SCCM 2012. I originally wrote a blog post about CMTrace back in 2014, so I thought that it was time to update it. In this post I’ll tell you why I like using CMTrace because you may have noticed that I often refer to it when I need to review SCCM log files. I’ll also tell you where you can find CMTrace and I’ll give you a couple of helpful tips!
What Makes CMTrace a Must-Have Tool?
There are numerous reasons to use this tool, but here are a few of my favorites:
-Log files can be reviewed in real time as they are updated.
-Multiple log files can be merged together.
-Error messages are highlighted in red.
-Warning messages are highlighted in yellow.
-You can highlight text based on your own needs.
-Ability to look-up codes.
-Rows can be filtered based on conditions.
CMTrace Reads All SCCM Log Files
After working with SCCM for a while you will realize that there are almost 200 different log files. To help you understand what each log file does, the SCCM documentation team listed and documented each one. In order to view the complete list, here’s a link to the documentation.
Given that CMTrace can read each log file, I strongly encourage you to give CMTrace a try!
Where Can I Find CMTrace?
SCCM Current Branch
Unlike previous versions of SCCM, the toolkit tools are now included in the installation of SCCM. These tools, which include CMTrace, are updated as required with each cumulative update (CU).
The toolkit is found under the Tools folder. In my case the path to cmtrace.exe is:
E:\Program Files\Microsoft Configuration Manager\tools.
Don’t worry. When you first try to access the Tools folder, you will receive the following message: You don’t currently have permission to access this folder. Simply click on the Continue button, adjust the folder permissions and grant yourself access to the folder.
System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager
First, you will need to download the System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager Toolkit.
There are no tricks to installing the System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager Toolkit. Simply install it as you would any other application.
Once the toolkit is downloaded and installed on your computer you will find CMTrace within the C:\Program Files (x86)\ConfigMgr 2012 Toolkit R2\ClientTools folder.
A line highlighted in yellow generally indicates that there is a warning message, and a line highlighted in red generally indicates that there is an error message.
If you are troubleshooting something within the SCCM logs it can be useful to highlight the item in order to see it happen in real-time.
To do this within CMTrace, click on the Tools and Highlight… menu items.
In the Highlight text box enter the text that you want to highlight and then click on the OK button.
All instances of the text will be highlighted within the log file.
By default, the highlighted text will be shown in yellow. Since this can lead to some confusion because warning messages are also in yellow, I recommend changing the color to something different.
Without changing any of the colors, can you tell which one of the lines above has the highlighted text?
To change the default highlighted color, select the File and Preferences… menu items.
Click on the yellow box next to Use this color for highlighting log entries.
I find that using the color pink really stands out! However, you can use whatever you like, so choose a color and click OK.
Finally, click on the OK button. Now all of my highlighted text will be displayed in pink.
Now you can tell from the screenshot above what line has the highlighted text! In my opinion, you need to change the color of the highlighted text in order to quickly see it, and I think that the color pink is a great alternative.
To see these tips live, view my video demonstration!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me @GarthMJ.
Do you have an idea for a blog post about a Configuration Manager query or reporting topic? Let me know. Your idea might become the focus of my next blog post!
Want great Configuration Manager reporting tips? See Enhansoft’s Blog Posts!