The Windows control panel is the main area where you can access most of the main settings for your computer. To get to the control panel, go to the start menu and it will be listed there. Click on the screenshot to see the Windows control panel in classic view.
Here is a brief summary of the most used control panel features.
Accessibility Options The accessibility options are in the Windows Control panel to help people with disabilities use the computer. There are some simple settings that you can change to make your computer using experience more pleasant. See more about Accessibility Options
Add Hardware The use for this has actually lowered as Windows now automatically finds the hardware that you install. The automatic add hardware wizard comes up and helps you install your hardware. I would be worried if you had a chance to get to the control panel and press on this, because this means Windows did not find your hardware automatically.
Add or Remove Programs New computer users commonly seem to think that to uninstall a program, you simply dump it in the recycle bin. Well this only gets rid of the desktop shortcut, not the actual program. Even if you go into Program files to the folder where the program is and delete that, there will always be more files scattered in other places. To Add or remove programs on your computer you must go to Add or Remove programs.
Administration Tools The Administration tools are not to be played with. It contains some in depth settings that are not for the average user. Changing settings in here can cause your computer to stop working. You can turn on or off Windows services, Check your system performance, Set names to hard drives in computer management, and check on shared folders. As I said, it is not a place to experiment or try things out.
Automatic Updates You can set Automatic updates to download automatically, or ask you before they are downloaded, or even turn them off completely. I think it is be to be notified when they are ready to be downloaded and installed as sometimes they interfere with what you are doing at the time. Also after they have been installed, Windows will then basically nag you until you restart the computer. Here’s how to find Automatic updates.
Date and Time If you click on this icon you can change your date and time, time zone settings, and synchronise your computer time with the internet. You can also double click on the time in the right corner to bring up the same date and time properties.
Display Here you can change the display properties. You can change your desktop wallpaper, screensaver, Windows theme, and your screen resolution. You can also get there by right clicking on the desktop and choosing properties. Here’s how to change your screen resolution.
Folder Options Folder options in Windows Control Panel has some very important folder and file settings here. You can change so many settings here. One example is that you can add or remove the menu options that come up when you open windows explorer to view your folders. You can also go to the view tab to show or hide hidden files. Here’s how to show hidden files.
Fonts This is where all the font files are kept. Any font that is in here will show up in your writing programs for you to use. You can install more fonts into this folder.
Internet Options Internet options is very handy for changing settings that have to do with surfing the internet and internet explorer. You can set security and privacy measures that can make your computer safe when browsing the net. You can also change the homepage, add websites to the trusted zone, delete cookies, delete cache files, set automatic filters for bad content, and even set auto complete forms here.
Network Connections Opening the Network Connections control panel will show you icons for the different network connections on your PC. You will find your internet connection, Wireless connection, Bluetooth, and firewire here. If you right click on any of these icons, you can choose properties from the menu. Here you can change settings, however be careful as you may loose your internet connection if you do not know what you are doing.Network Setup Wizard When you have just setup your network you should run this network setup wizard. This will easily put all your computers on the same wavelength.Phone and Modem You will need this if you use a fax in conjunction with a computer. You will also need to go here if you are on dialup internet. Your settings will be here.Power Options This may vary from computer to computer, depending on whether you have a laptop or a desktop. This allows you to set a time when a screensaver kicks in or when your computer should hibernate, because it has been left on and not being used.Printers and Faxes You can go here and see what printers are installed. You can right click on it and choose to pause printing or choose properties to see the printers details.
Scanners and Cameras When you connect your camera to your computer, it will show up in here when you open it. Here is how to find the scanner and camera wizard.
Scheduled Tasks You can set tasks for the computer to perform at certain times. This is great for performing system checks when no one is using the computer.
Security Center The Windows Security center has The main security settings like the firewall, the automatic updates, and virus protection. Here you can turn the firewall on or off, change settings for automatic updates, and choose to enable windows virus alerts.
Sounds and Audio Devices You will probably have a sound problem sooner or later and here is where you can check the settings.
System When you press on here you get the system properties box. Here are some other ways to find the system properties box. This is by far the most important part of the control panel. You can see what speed your computer is, how much memory it has , and under the hardware tab, see devices that are connected to the computer.
System Taskbar and Start Menu You can customise your taskbar and start menu here. There are some great little tricks to use that really do make life easier. One of my favourite ones is to hide the taskbar, therefore letting you see more of your screen. Another great one is to organise your start menu the way you would like it. More about how to customise your taskbar and start menu.
User Accounts Here you can delete, create a new user, change passwords, set administration rights, and change your picture for your name. If you are not signed in as an administrator, Windows will not let you change some settings.
The following are some common Control Panel Applets.
They are located in the windowssystem32 directory. If you can’t find the control panel go to the startmenu>run>then type control panel. Every computer user will use these Windows utilities often.
If you find yourself using any of these frequently, then you can simply make shortcuts to them on your desktop. Just go to control panel and right click on which one you want and choose shortcut.
You can also type these into the run window. (startmenu>run>then type XXXX)
|Add/Remove Programs||appwiz.cpl||Click on this icon to add and remove programs safely.|
|Display Properties||desk.cpl||This is where you can change your desktop resolution and wallpaper.|
|Firewall Settings||firewall.cpl||This shows you whether the windows firewall is on or off.|
|Internet Options||inetcpl.cpl||You can change internet settings here.|
|Sound and Audio||mmsys.cpl||Adjust volume and settings.|
|Network Connections||ncpa.cpl||You can view your network connections and change various settings.|
|User Accounts||nusrmgr.cpl||Create, change, and delete user accounts.|
|System Properties||sysdm.cpl||Change settings like system restore, and view your computer specs.|
|Security Center||wscui.cpl||You should check here to make sure your computer is protected from harmful viruses.|
|Automatic Updates Configuration||wuaucpl.cpl||Turn automatic updates on or off and schedule downloads.|