Practical SQL Server
Teaching this Old Dog New Tricks – Database Mail Management

Teaching this Old Dog New Tricks – Database Mail Management

As I regularly tell my SQL Server consulting clients: While I’ve spent extensive time with SQL Server over the last umpteen years and know tons about it, I don’t know everything about it. In fact, it’s the fact that I can consistently keep learning new things about SQL Server that keeps me so enthralled with it and keeps me excited about being able to share what I’ve learned.

A Confession About Something I Learned with the Database Mail GUI in SSMS

So, with that in mind, I have an embarrassing confession about something I learned a while back about the GUI within SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) for managing the Database Mail interface. And, in case you’re hoping for something cool or earth-shattering – don’t hold your breath. Then again, I’m hoping that MAYBE I’m not the only person who was ‘burned’ by this same problem as I was – which is why I’m sharing (because I suspect a few people reading this might have made the same mistake I did).

Related: Digging into SSMS

And with all of that out of the way, here’s what I learned. I learned that the GUI for managing Database Mail from within SQL Server Management Studio isn’t nearly as lame as I thought it was for oh… well, a number of YEARS. Because for the longest time, I always assumed it was a lame interface because it ONLY allowed you to set up NEW Database Mail accounts – not manage existing features or settings.

How could I have made such a DUMB mistake you ask?

Simple. SSMS does a pretty decent job of training DBAs and users that pretty much any time you kick off a new ‘wizard’ there’s a bunch of useless ‘introduction’ screens and other ‘crap’ that you have to click through BEFORE you can actually get started doing the stuff you wanted to do.

For example, want to generate scripts of your objects? Well, you’ll start out with this screen first:


Or, if you want to use the GUI to set up replication, then you’ll get this ‘splash’ screen:


And so on – through a number of different tasks and operations. Granted, you can dismiss these ‘splash’ screens in most cases, but the point is that SSMS has trained me over the years to just sort of expect these – and to click past them in far too many cases (largely because I interact with them fairly regularly in client locations and don’t want to click the “don’t show me this starting page again” option in order to make as few changes to client environments as possible).

Which leads me to my confession. Remember how I said that I thought, for the longest time, that SQL Server Management Studio didn’t provide any decent options for managing Database Mail settings once configured – and ONLY gave me the option to set up NEW profiles. We’ll that’s because whenever you double-click the Database Mail Node in SSMS, or click on the Configure Database Mail context-menu as shown below:

then when you start up the ‘management wizard’ you’re granted with the following splash screen on servers where you haven’t dismissed this option:

And then you’re greeted with this page:

Where, for some stupid reason, for literally YEARS I just clicked next without READING anything – thinking it was just another splash or welcome page.

Yes. Patently dumb. And it’s lame for me to even try to pass this off as me confusing this as ‘just another splash screen’. But, that’s the reality of what I did – for so long.

The Take-Away

Obviously, the ‘dumb’ in this situation is all on me. But imagine my surprise (and excitement) when I finally realized that I could use the SSMS GUI to manage existing profiles, configurations, and other details – instead of dropping to T-SQL to handle all of this.

So, the question is: what’s staring you in the face day in and day out – that you’re MISSING or not using?

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