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Using Control Panel

Control Panel is a central container of tools for changing preferences, configurations, and settings. These miniature programs commonly are called applets or extensions. Experienced Windows users are familiar with the interface in Figure 4.1, now called classic view. Windows XP’s Control Panel defaults to a novice-friendly interface called category view (Figures 4.2 and 4.3).

Figure 4.1. Classic view consolidates all Control Panel tools in one window.

Figure 4.2. Category view groups Control Panel tools into functional categories. Click a category to...

Figure 4.3. ...open an item or (as here) display a list of related tasks and Control Panel tools.

To open Control Panel

  • Choose Start > Control Panel.

✓ Tips

  • To start Control Panel with a Start > Run command, type control and then press Enter.

  • To start Control Panel in the classic (one-column) Start menu, choose Start > Settings > Control Panel.

  • To show Control Panel in the My Computer folder, choose Start > Control Panel > Appearances and Themes > Folder Options > View tab > check Show Control Panel in My Computer (near the bottom).

To open an item in category view

  • Click its icon or category name.

    In some cases, such as Add or Remove Programs, the item opens in its own window. In others, such as Appearance and Themes, the category opens to a list of tasks and icons that you can click.

To open an item in classic view

  • Double-click the item.


    Use the arrow keys to navigate to the desired item; then press Enter.


    Press the key of the item’s first letter; then press Enter.

    If multiple items have the same first letter, press that letter repeatedly until the desired item is highlighted; then press Enter.

To switch Control Panel views

If the Control Panel task pane isn’t displayed, choose Tools > Folder Options > General tab > Show Common Tasks in Folders (Figure 4.4).

Figure 4.4. Select this option to make the task pane appear on the left side of the Control Panel window (as in Figures 4.1 and 4.2).

In the task pane, click Switch to Category View or Switch to Classic View (Figure 4.5).

Figure 4.5. The Switch View option toggles according to the current view. Windows veterans prefer classic view.

✓ Tips

  • If you can’t find the item you want in category view, click Other Control Panel Options in the task pane (or switch to classic view).

  • In either view, hold your pointer over a category or icon to see a pop-up description of it.

  • Working from Control Panel, you can create desktop shortcuts to its programs, which are handy if (for example) you’re setting up a network or a printer and need to launch one program repeatedly. To create a shortcut, see “Managing Shortcuts” in Chapter 2.

  • Tweak UI’s Control Panel options let you hide the Control Panel extensions of your choice. See the “Tweak UI” sidebar in “Using the Start Menu” in Chapter 2.

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