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  1. Architecture of Windows NT
  2. AutoPlay
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  5. Calibri
  6. Cambria
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  8. Chess Titans
  9. ClearType
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  23. Group Shot
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  25. INI file
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  28. Kernel Transaction Manager
  29. List of Microsoft software codenames
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  35. Microsoft Assistance Markup Language
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  55. Recovery Console
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  57. Security and safety features of Windows Vista
  58. Segoe UI
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  60. WIM image format
  61. Windows Aero
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  74. Windows Live
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  80. Windows Meeting Space
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  84. Windows Presentation Foundation
  85. Windows Registry
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  87. Windows Security Center
  88. Windows Server Longhorn
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  90. Windows SharePoint Services
  91. Windows Shell
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  94. Windows System Assessment Tool
  95. Windows System Recovery
  96. Windows Update
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  98. Windows Vista
  99. Windows Vista editions and pricing
  100. Windows Vista Startup Process
  101. Windows Workflow Foundation
  102. Windows XP
  103. Windows XP Media Center Edition
  104. XML Paper Specification
  105. Yahoo Widget Engine

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Control Panel (Windows)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Control Panel in Windows Vista
Control Panel in Windows Vista
Control Panel in Windows XP
Control Panel in Windows XP
Classic View of the Control Panel in Windows XP
Classic View of the Control Panel in Windows XP

Control Panel is a part of the Microsoft Windows graphical user interface which allows users to view and manipulate basic system settings and controls, such as adding hardware, adding and removing software, controlling user accounts, and changing accessibility options. Additional applets can be provided by third party software.

In recent versions of Windows, the Control Panel has two views, Classic View and Category View, and it is possible to switch between these through an option that appears on the left side of the window.

Control Panel applets (Windows XP)

Accessibility Options

Allows users to configure the accessibility of their PC. It comprises various settings primarily aimed at users with disabilities or hardware problems.

  • The behaviour of the keyboard can be modified, this is aimed at people who have difficulty pressing key-combinations, or pressing a key just once.
  • Behaviour of sounds can be modified.
  • High contrast mode can be activated.
  • The keyboard cursor can be customized.
  • The mouse pointer can be controlled using the keyboard.

Add Hardware

Launches a wizard which allows users to add new hardware devices to the system. This can be done by selecting from a list of devices or by specifying the location of the driver installation files.

Add or Remove Programs

The Add/Remove Programs dialog allows the user to manipulate software installed on the system in a number of ways;

  • Allows users to uninstall and change existing software packages, as well as indicating how much space individual programs take and how frequently they are used.
  • Allows users to manually install software from a CD-ROM or Floppy Disk, and install add-ons from Windows Update.
  • Allows users to change which Windows components are installed, via the Windows setup Wizard, which includes Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and Windows Messenger
  • Finally, it allows users to specify the default applications for certain tasks, via the 'set program access and defaults' wizard, such as internet browsers, media players and email programs and whether access to these programs is available

Administrative Tools

Contains tools for system administration, including security, performance and service configuration. These are links to various configurations of the Microsoft Management Console such as the local services list and the Event Viewer.

Date and Time

Allows user to change the date and time stored in the machines BIOS, change the time zone and specify whether to synchronize the date and time with an Internet Time Server and which server to use.


Allows the user to change the display characteristics of their computer;

  • Allows users to change the desktop background (wallpaper) to a picture of their choice and specifies how it should be shown.
  • Allows the user to change or disable the screensaver, and specify how long it takes to activate and whether to ask for a password on resume
  • Allows the user to specify the colour styles of all elements within the system, primarily whether to use the Windows XP / Vista styles (blue by default in XP) or to use the classic Windows 98 / Me styles, this also allows the user to change the My Computer and Recycle Bin icons.
  • Allows the user to change the screen resolution and colour quality, and provides trouble shooting advice for displays.

Folder Options

This item allows for configuration of how folders and files are presented in Windows Explorer. It is also used to modify file type associations in Windows; meaning, which program opens what file types.


Displays all fonts installed on the computer. Users can remove fonts, install new fonts or search for fonts using font characteristics.

Game Controllers

Allows the user to view and edit the game controllers connected to the PC.

Internet Options

Allows the user to change the way the computer manages internet connections and browser settings (although cross-platform browsers such as Firefox and Opera have their own preference panes), it has several tags specifying different attributes;

  • General - This specifies the homepage and colour schemes and allows the user to delete internet usage history.
  • Security & Privacy - These specify whether the computer should allow websites to undertake certain processes and download cookies, this panel also gives access to the inbuilt popup blocker (Windows XP SP2 and later) and the phishing controls (Internet Explorer 7).
  • Content - Allows the parental controls and auto-complete to be configured and also specifies how to deal with certificates.
  • Connections, Programs and Advanced - These give access to other aspects of internet settings such as the default modem connection and email client, proxy settings and other advanced configurations.


Lets the user change and test keyboard settings, including cursor blink rate and key repeat rate.


Mail allows for configuration of the mail client in Windows, usually Microsoft Outlook. Microsoft Outlook Express cannot be configured with this item; it is configured through its own interface.


Mouse allows the configuration of pointer options, such as the double click and scroll speed, and include visibility options such as whether to leave trails behind the mouse pointer and whether the pointer should disappear when typing. This also allows the user to specify the pointer appearance for each task, such as resize and busy.

Network Connections

Displays and allows the user to edit or create network connections such as Local Area Networks (LAN) and internet connections. It also offers troubleshooting functions in case the computer has to be reconnected to the network.

Phone and Modem Options

Manages telephone and modem connections.

Power Options

Includes options to manage energy consumption such as;

  • Specify how long it takes to switch of the display and hard drives and how long it takes for the system to enter standby, if at all.
  • To decide what to do when the computer's on/off button is pressed, such as whether to shut down or to enter standby.
  • Whether to allow Hibernation (some systems become unstable when restarting).
  • Allows the user to configure UPS (if available).

Printers and Faxes

Displays all the printers and faxes currently installed on the computer, and has two main uses;

  • Firstly, it shows the all the jobs queued for each printer, the file size and status of each job and which user they belong to, it also allows each job to be paused, canceled or moved up or down the list.
  • Secondly, it allows the user to set the printing or faxing preferences, such as paper size and quality via the manufacturers own preferences pane and also specifies how to share the printer across a network , the device drivers, ports etc.

Regional and Language Settings

Various regional settings can be altered, for instance:

  • The way numbers are displayed (e.g. decimal separator).
  • How Currency values are displayed, including the Currency sign.
  • Time and date notations, such as the date separator and whether the clock should be in 12 or 24 hours.
  • Cultural location of the user's computer (The time zone is set in Date and Time).
  • Language;
    • Input language.
    • Keyboard layout (mapping between key strokes and characters).
    • Display language for Menus and Dialog Boxes.
  • Whether files necessary for Asiatic language support must be installed.
  • Installed code pages.

Scanners and Cameras

Displays all the scanners and cameras installed on the computer, and allows them to be configured or removed, or new ones to be added.

Security Center (Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Newer)

The security center gives the user access to the inbuilt Windows security components, as well as providing information about any existing antivirus software such as McAfee or Zone Alarm. It includes access to Windows Update, where users can specify whether the computer should check for updates regularly (also available through the Windows Update panel), and options for managing internet security settings. It also includes links to internet articles about PC security and current virus threats and notifies the user when the PCs security is compromised.

Sounds and Audio Devices

This panel contains various audio-related functions;

  • Change the speaker volume and type and specify whether to show the volume icon in the notification area.
  • Change the sounds played for the system or specific programs when a certain event occurs, i.e Windows Startup or Critical Stop.
  • Change default devices for music playback, recording, voice recognition, MIDI etc.
  • Change the Sound card settings and whether to use Hardware acceleration.
  • Display the audio devices installed on the computer, and allows them to be configured.


Change settings for text to speech support.


View and change basic system settings. A user can for instance:

  • Display general information on the user's machine.
  • Edit the computer name in a workgroup.
  • Manage and configure hardware devices.
  • Enable automatic updates.

Taskbar and Start Menu

Allows the user to change the behavior and appearance of the task bar and Start Menu;

  • Specifies whether to use Windows XP/Vista or Classic 9x/Me styles on the taskbar and start menu.
  • Whether the taskbar should Auto-Hide.
  • Whether to show the clock in the notification area.
  • Allows the user to manage the tray icons.
  • Advanced options such as whether to show Printers & Faxes in the start menu and whether to display My Documents as a menu or as a link to a new window.

User Accounts

This allows the user to configure their account and other accounts used in the system, should they have sufficient privileges. They can change their username and password, their picture (if enabled) and their .net passport. If the current user has an administrators account they can also add, delete and modify other user accounts as well as make changes to core system settings. This panel also specifies whether the guest account should be active and whether to use the Welcome screen.

Other Microsoft Control Panel applets (Windows XP)

Automatic Updates

Allows users to enable and schedule the Microsoft automatic updates.

Bluetooth Devices

Enables users to configure a Bluetooth connection.

Requirement: Windows XP Service Pack 2.


Enables users to manage Windows color settings.

Requirement: Installing the Microsoft Color Control Panel Applet, available via the Microsoft web site.


The Client Service for NetWare applet is used to select a default tree and context in a Novell Directory Services (NDS) environment, or the NetWare server used most frequently in a non-NDS environment.

Requirement: Installing the Client Service for NetWare.

Software Explorers

Part of Windows Defender, allows users to view detailed information about software that is currently running on the computer that can affect the users' privacy or the security of the computer.

See also

  • List of Microsoft Windows components
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