What is the Windows Control Panel?

The Control Panel in Windows has been the primary way for users to view or change settings, however it has gradually been taking a backseat to the Settings app.

Since its introduction by Microsoft in the 1980s, the Control Panel app has been the primary way for users to view or change settings in Windows. It carries applets that allow you to modify settings related to appearance, networking, security, hardware, software, accessibility, and more. But since Windows 8 (2012), Control Panel’s role and visibility began taking a backseat to the Settings app.

What are the functions of the Control Panel in Windows 10?

System and Security

Under System and Security, you can make backups, restore files (Windows 7), and review your computer’s security status. Under Security, you can modify Network firewall and Virus protection options.

Network and Internet

You can view network status and perform Internet-related tasks under this option. For example, you can delete your browsing history and cookies for your Microsoft Browser. But you’ll have to learn how to clear cookies for Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox if you use a third-party browser, as you can't modify those settings here.

Hardware and Sound

Under hardware and sound, you can manage your hardware and access sound, power and some video options. You can also find the Device Manager. Using the Device Manager, you can check to see if you have an SSD or HDD under the hood of your computer.  

Programs

Here, you can view or uninstall programs. You can also activate or deactivate Windows features. The Programs option is handy if you want to change the Default Programs in Windows.

User Accounts

Under user accounts, you can modify account access and change your user password. For extra security, we recommend you set a complex password. You may also choose to use biometric security features if available.

Appearance and Personalization

This is where you come to make cosmetic changes to your Windows installation. For example, you can change your fonts, contrast ratio, and colors. In addition, you can see hidden files and specify whether you need to single or double-click to open items.  

Clock and Region

The Clock and Region section lets you change the time, date, and number format. This option is helpful if you're traveling and want to keep up with local time. Modifying the date and time format is also possible here.

Ease of Access

Ease of Access allows you to optimize Windows accessibility in several ways. You can modify the visual display so that fonts, text, and cursor are easier to read, replace sounds with visual clues, and activate speech recognition. You’ll also find some convenient options for your keyboard here.

Difference between Control Panel and Settings

It’s not a coincidence that Control Panel became harder to find in Windows 8 with the introduction of the Settings app, which was designed to be a more user-friendly touchscreen-optimized version of Control Panel. Since Windows 8, Microsoft gradually migrated more functions to Settings from Control Panel. And while Control Panel continues to exist in Windows 11, it directs users to the Settings app for many of its functions. So, to sum things up, the difference between Control Panel and Settings is that the former is a legacy app while the latter is a modern version that’s slowly but surely phasing out its predecessor.

Why use Windows Control Panel and Settings?

The Control Panel and Settings both enable Windows users to manage a broad range of settings and customize things how you like. Either app will help you view or change settings in Windows. For example, you can use the apps to view your network status, turn on Bluetooth, or use one of them to uninstall a program.

How do I get to my Control Panel on Windows 10?

Search Bar

  1. Hit the Windows key on your keyboard.
  2. Type control panel in the search box.
  3. Open the Control Panel app.

Run command

  1. Press the Windows key and R together.
  2. Type control panel.
  3. Press Enter or OK.

Desktop shortcut

  1. Right-click on your desktop.
  2. New > Folder.
  3. Type control panel.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Type Control Panel.
  6. Click Finish.
  7. Use the shortcut to access Control Panel.

Command Prompt

  1. Hit Win+R
  2. Type Cmd and press enter.
  3. Type control panel and press enter.

You can also pin the Control Panel app to the Start menu, taskbar, or both. First, find the Control Panel app by typing Control Panel in the Windows search box. Next, right-click the icon and click Pin to Start or Pin to taskbar. Now, you can find the app on your taskbar or Start menu.

How do I open the Control Panel in Windows 11?

You can use many of the methods listed above to open Control Panel in Windows 11. For example, you can type control panel in the search box on your Windows 11 operating system to find the app. Or hit Win+R and type it out. You can also use the new Windows Tools folder in Windows 11.

  1. Hit the Windows key to open the Start Menu.
  2. Look under All apps to find Windows Tools.
  3. Open Windows Tools.
  4. Locate and open Control Panel.

What is the shortcut key for Control Panel?

There is no shortcut key for the Control Panel in Windows because Microsoft is making the app less visible. However, its spiffier replacement does have a shortcut key. To access the Settings app, use the Win+I shortcut.

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