Home > Blogs > 30 Hardware and Windows Tips in 30 Days Tip 27: Supercharging Windows Control Panel Access

30 Hardware and Windows Tips in 30 Days Tip 27: Supercharging Windows Control Panel Access

Whether you use Windows XP or Windows Vista, learn how to make your favorite Control Panel features easier to find and faster to use.

Control Panel! If you're serious about controlling your computer (and Windows), there are times you practically live in there. But, if you're like most people, you probably don't give every icon equal time. You have your favorites, and this article is designed to help you spend more time using your favorite CP utilities and less time fumbling around for them.

Cures for Windows XP's Uncategorial Mess

The idea of creating categories is a good one - as Windows Vista's outstanding makeover of Control Panel proves. Unfortunately, Windows XP's default category view is a mess. It takes more clicks to open the applet you need, and the categories don't always make a lot of sense. So, what can you do to make navigating it easier?

  1. Switch to Classic View (if you haven't done it already). Classic View turns off the category shell and gives you direct access to every Control Panel icon.
  2. If Classic View is overwhelming, use the View in Groups option to group icons by initial letter. That helps reorganize all of the applets.

But, what can you do to make it easier to use only your favorites? Try this: create your own folder of favorite applets. To do this quickly and easily:

  1. Create a folder on your desktop. If you can't see any icons on your desktop, right-click the desktop and select Arrange Icons By... and click Show Desktop Icons. Call the folder CP Favorites (or whatever you prefer).
  2. Drag each of your favorite applets into the folder to create shortcuts.
  3. To add the CP Favorites folder to the Start menu, drag it to the Start menu. If you'd prefer to add each of your favorite applets to the Start menu, drag each shortcut to the Start menu. Either way, you save yourself some mouse clicks.

Supercharging Access in Windows Vista

One of Windows Vista's unsung improvements over Windows XP is Control Panel. Not only does Vista's version provide much more sensible categories, but it adds shortcuts to the most common tasks. Nevertheless, you might want to make getting to your favorites even faster. Here's how:

  1. Create a folder on your desktop. If you can't see any icons on your desktop, right-click the desktop and select View... and click Show Desktop Icons. Call the folder CP Favorites (or whatever you prefer).
  2. Drag each of your favorite applets into the folder to create shortcuts.
  3. To add the CP Favorites folder to the Start menu, right-click the Start orb and select Explore. Right-click the Programs folder and select Paste.
  4. To access your favorites, click Start, All Programs, CP Favorites, and each favorite is listed.

With either version of Windows, you can keep adding shortcuts to your menu as desired. Save time - and make your "PC" truly personal.

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