Windows Control Panel

Dennis Faas's picture

The Control Panel is part of the Microsoft Windows graphical user interface (GUI) menu. It is accessible from the Start Menu, which allows users to view and manipulate basic system settings and controls, such as: adding hardware, adding/removing software, controlling user accounts, changing accessibility options, and more.

The Control Panel is accessed by going into Start -> Settings -> Control Panel on Windows 95, 98, and Me and directly from Windows XP.

Control Panel Categories in Windows XP

In Windows XP, the following Control Panel options are present:

Accessibility Options: allows users to configure the accessibility of their PC. It comprises of various settings primarily aimed at users with disabilities or hardware problems. The behavior of the keyboard can be modified. This is aimed at people who have difficulty pressing key-combinations, or pressing a key just once; Behavior of sounds can be modified; High contrast mode can be activated; The keyboard cursor can be customized, and 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: allows users to add or remove programs from their system. The Add/Remove Programs dialogue also displays how often the program is used and how much disk space it occupies.  

Administrative Tools: contains various tools for system administration, including security, performance and service configuration.  

Date and Time: allows user to change the date and time stored in the machines BIOS, change the time zone and synchronize the date and time with an internet time server.  

Display: launches the Display Properties window which allows the user to alter the display settings of their computer such as desktop background (wallpaper), screensaver, display resolution etc.  

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.  

Fonts: 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 internet security settings, internet privacy settings, HTML display options and various browser settings like homepage and plugins.  

Keyboard: lets the user change and test keyboard settings, including cursor blink rate and key repeat rate.  

Mail: 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.  

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: manages telephone and modem connections.  

Power Options: includes options to manage energy consumption, to decide what to do when the computer's on/off button is pressed and whether or not to activate sleep mode.  

Printers and Faxes: displays all the printers and faxes installed on the computer, and allows them to be configured or removed, or new ones to be added.  

Regional and Language Settings: various regional settings can be altered. For instance: the way numbers are displayed (e.g. decimal separator); the default currency sign; time and date notation; location of the user's computer; whether files necessary for Asiatic language support must be installed, and Installed codepages.  

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: the security center is only available in Windows XP Service Pack 2. It is a section that allows the user to view the status of various security features, including: The Windows firewall; Automatic updates, and Virus protection. It notifies the user when such features are enabled, disabled or otherwise compromised.  

Sound and Audio Devices: has various audio-related functions, for instance: Change sound card settings; Change system sounds, or program-specific sounds that should be played when a certain event occurs; Change default devices for various purposes (playback, recording, etc.), and Display the audio devices installed on the computer, and allows them to be configured.  

Speech: change settings for text to speech support.  

System: 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, and Enable automatic updates.  

Taskbar and Start Menu: change the behavior and appearance of the task bar.  

User Accounts: allows user to control the user accounts used in the system. If the user has the necessary privileges the user can give another user (administrator) privileges or revoke them, add, remove or configure user accounts, etc.

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