Accessing the Control Panel will help you tweak many system settings because the Control Panel in Windows is a collection of applets, like small programs, each used to configure different aspects of the operating system.
For example, one applet in the Control Panel lets you configure the mouse pointer size, while another lets you adjust all audio-related settings.
Other applets can be used to change network settings, set up storage, manage screen display settings, and more.
So, before you can make any changes to Windows, you’ll need to open the Control Panel. Fortunately, this is very easy to do, at least on most versions of Windows.
Note: Opening the Control Panel is slightly different on different versions of Windows. Here are the steps to open the Control Panel for Windows 10, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, and Windows 7.
Opening the Control Panel takes just a few seconds on most versions of Windows, or less if you already know where it is.
Use the search feature (this applies to all versions of Windows)
One of the fastest ways to get to anything in Windows is to use the system’s search function. In Windows 10, just click or tap inside the search box on the taskbar (with the magnifying glass icon), then enter the keyword “control panel”, and click on the search results that appear.
In Windows 7, you will have to open the Start Menu and enter the keyword “control panel” in the search box. Then click on the Control Panel shortcut in the list of results the program returns.
In Windows 8.1, you switch to the Start screen and also enter the keyword “control panel”. Before you finish typing the first word, the search results for the Control Panel are displayed. You click or tap on that result.
Use Cortana (Windows 10 only)
In Windows 10, you can talk and command Cortana to open the Control Panel. Proceed as follows:
On the taskbar, to the right of the search box, click or tap the microphone-shaped icon to wake up the virtual assistant Cortana. Also, if Cortana is already enabled on the system, just say “Hey Cortana” to wake up this virtual assistant, then say “Launch Control Panel” out loud!
Use Control Panel shortcuts from the Start menu or Start screen (this applies to all Windows versions)
The Start menu is another (slightly slower) way to launch the Control Panel in Windows 10. First, you press the Windows key or click the Windows icon in the bottom left corner of the screen to open the Start menu. In the Start menu, you will find a Control Panel shortcut; just click on that shortcut.
Tip: The Power User Menu is a faster way to open the Control Panel in Windows 10, but only when you’re using a keyboard or mouse. From the menu, select Control Panel that appears after pressing WIN+X or right-clicking the Start button.
In the Start menu (on the right) of Windows 7, you can find the Control Panel’s link displayed directly.
Alternatively, you can also navigate to the All Programs section and then open the System Tools folder. Inside System Tools, you will see a shortcut to the Control Panel.
In Windows 8.1, you have to switch to the Start screen and open the Apps view by clicking the little arrow at the bottom of the screen. In the Windows System folder, you will see a shortcut to the Control Panel.
Create a shortcut to Control Panel and pin it to your desktop (this applies to all versions of Windows)
You can also create a shortcut to the Control Panel and pin it on the desktop itself for easy access. You can refer to the articles “Shortcut tips in Windows XP” and “Create and customize application shortcuts on Windows 10” to understand the details of how to do it.
Pin Control Panel to the taskbar, Start menu, or Start screen (this applies to all versions of Windows)
To get to Control Panel quickly with just one click, you can pin its shortcut to the taskbar, Start menu, or Start screen.
To do this in Windows 10, first find the Control Panel as in the first method. In the list of returned results, right-click or press and hold the Control Panel item, and then click the Pin to Taskbar or Pin to Start option as you like.
In Windows 8.1, you will also initially conduct a search for Control Panel, as in the first method. Then, in the list of returned results, right-click or press and hold the Control Panel item and select Pin to Taskbar or Pin to Start, optional.
Use the Run window (This applies to all versions of Windows)
First, press the Windows + R key combination on your keyboard to open the Run window. Then type the keyword “control panel” and press Enter or click OK.
Use Command Prompt or PowerShell (this applies to all versions of Windows)
If you are familiar with using Command Prompt or PowerShell to work with tasks on your computer, you should know that the command to launch the Control Panel is “control panel”. It’s very simple: first, you start Command Prompt or PowerShell, then type this command and press the Enter key on the keyboard, and Control Panel will immediately be launched.
- Summary of common Run CMD commands
- Summary of basic PowerShell commands
Use Task Manager (this applies to all versions of Windows)
Another way to open the Control Panel is to use the Task Manager. First, you access the Task Manager (use Ctrl + Shift + Esc or right-click on the Taskbar and select Task Manager). If you use Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 Task Manager will be opened in collapsed mode; click More details to display all the necessary information. Then, open the File menu and click on the Run new task item.
In the Create new task dialog box, enter the keyword “control panel” and press Enter or click OK.
Start Control Panel from Windows Explorer or File Explorer (this applies to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1)
Another great way to start the Control Panel is to use Windows Explorer. First, navigate to Computer, and then, at the top of the window (see illustration below), click the Open Control Panel button.
Similarly, in Windows 8.1, you also open File Explorer and select This PC on the left. Then, open the Computer tab from the ribbon menu at the top of the window and click the Open Control Panel button.
Now, the Control Panel is open and ready for you to use as required.
Run control.exe (this applies to all versions of Windows)
The executable file for the Control Panel is control.exe. It is located in the WindowsSystem32 folder. Just double-click this file, and Control Panel will be launched immediately.
Use the WinX menu (Windows 8.1 only)
This method is used by quite a few proficient Windows 8.1 users. First, you press the Windows + X key combination on your keyboard, and then you click on the Control Panel shortcut that will appear in this menu.
Note: This method can also be used in early versions of Windows 10, but if your computer has been updated to Windows 10 Creators or later versions, this method will no longer work.
Using the Settings Charm (Windows 8.1 only)
Another way to open the Control Panel in Windows 8.1 is to use Charms (Charms is a new function in Windows 8). To begin, press the Windows + I key combination to bring up the Settings Charm. For devices with touch screens, simply swipe in from the right side of the screen and tap Settings. In the Settings Charm, you can find several items, including a shortcut to the Control Panel.
Add the Desktop toolbar to taskbar (this applies to all Windows versions)
This last method is less intuitive, but the results can please many users and have a lasting effect. First, go to the Desktop and right-click in the space on the taskbar. Then click on the item on Toolbars and select Desktop.
This will add a Desktop toolbar to the right side of the taskbar. You just need to click on it and then navigate to the Control Panel.
The beauty of this toolbar is that it will display the main items as well as shortcuts from the Control Panel itself. Maybe this is an effective tool for many users in the long run.
Control commands and access individual applets
As mentioned above, the control command will launch the Control Panel from any command-line interface in Windows, including the Command Prompt.
In addition, each individual applet in the Control Panel can be opened via Command Prompt, which is really useful if you are in need of quick access to an applet.
All of the methods listed above, from simple to complex, can assist us in starting Control Panel in Windows versions. I hope this article was helpful to you, and if you know of other methods, please share them in the comments section below so we can add more updates to this article!
- Use Run to open tools in the Control Panel quickly
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- Instructions for using the Windows Control Panel effectively