Windows Management and Maintenance : The Windows 7 Control Panel (part 2)

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1. Breaking Down Category View

Although Windows 7, like Windows Vista, defaults to Category view, the categories and their contents are somewhat different in Windows 7 than in its predecessor.


If you need to access a Control Panel option that’s available only in Large Icons or Small Icons view, or if you just plain prefer to view individual icons, open the Control Panel and click Large Icons or Small Icons (see Figure 1).

There are eight standard categories in Category view on any computer running Windows 7 (settings formerly in a separate Mobile category have been folded into other categories). Virtually every Control Panel applet in Windows 7 can be accessed from one or more categories.

Tables 1 through 8 list the tasks for each category. These are listed in the order of appearance, from top left to bottom right, not alphabetically. Clicking any of the categories takes you to another dialog box showing those tasks.


The items listed in Tables 1 through 10 include every item in every edition of Windows 7. If you have the Home Starter, Home Premium, Professional or Enterprise edition, your Control Panel might not have every item listed here.

In the Control Panel screens, items featuring the Windows 7 Security shield indicate that the item is protected by User Account Control; with the default UAC settings, standard users must provide a password from an Administrator account to open these items.

Virtually every Control Panel applet visible in Large Icons view or Small Icons views can be accessed from one or more categories. However, a few can be accessed only from Large Icons or Small Icons view. Applets are listed and cross-referenced to their respective categories in Table 9.

Table 9. Control Panel Applets and Categories
AppletAlso Found in This Category
Action CenterSystem and Security
Administrative ToolsSystem and Security
AutoPlayHardware and Sound
Backup and RestoreSystem and Security
BitLocker Drive EncryptionSystem and Security
Color ManagementHardware and Sound
Credential ManagerUser Accounts and Family Safety
Date and TimeClock, Language, and Region
Default ProgramsPrograms
Desktop GadgetsPrograms; Appearance and Personalization
Device ManagerSystem and Security, Hardware and Sound
Devices and PrintersHardware and Sound
DisplayHardware and Sound; Appearance and Personalization
Ease of Access CenterAppearance and Personalization; Ease of Access
Folder OptionsAppearance and Personalization
FontsAppearance and Personalization
Getting Started
HomeGroupNetwork and Internet
Indexing OptionsSystem and Security
Internet OptionsNetwork and Internet
KeyboardHardware and Sound
Location and Other Sensors
MouseHardware and Sound
Network and Sharing CenterNetwork and Internet
Notification Area IconsAppearance and Personalization (submenu)
Parental ControlsUser Accounts and Family Safety
Pen and Input DevicesHardware and Sound
Performance Information and ToolsSystem and Security
PersonalizationAppearance and Personalization
Phone and Modem
Power OptionsSystem and Security; Hardware and Sound
Programs and FeaturesPrograms
RecoveryAction Center (submenu)
Region and LanguageClock, Language, and Region
RemoteApp and Desktop Connections
SoundHardware and Sound
Speech RecognitionEase of Access
Sync CenterNetwork and Internet
SystemSystem and Security
Tablet PC SettingsHardware and Sound
Taskbar and Start MenuAppearance and Personalization
TroubleshootingAction Center (submenu)
User AccountsUser Accounts and Family Safety
Windows CardSpaceUser Accounts and Family Safety
Windows Defender
Windows FirewallSystem and Security
Windows Mobility CenterHardware and Sound
Windows UpdateSystem and Security

You can use either Category view or the individual Large Icons view or Small Icons view to access virtually every feature of the Control Panel. From the home view of Control Panel, select the view you prefer from the View By menu in the upper-right corner.

2. What Should You Use?

Working with the Control Panel in Category view simplifies access to both commonly and less-commonly used configuration controls. However, some applets are referenced by more than one category. Consequently, to provide an exhaustive discussion of the applets. If you want to use Category view, refer to Tables 1 to 9.

Table 10 shows a list of all the standard Control Panel applets and what they accomplish. Your Control Panel may include other applets that are installed by other products from Microsoft and third parties.

Table 10. Control Panel Applets
Action CenterDisplays condition of security and maintenance settings, including Windows Firewall, antivirus, antimalware, Windows Backup, Windows Update, Reliability Monitor, and others.
Administrative ToolsProvides shortcuts to these administrative tools: Component Services, Computer Management, Data Sources (ODBC) settings, Event Viewer, iSCSI Initiator, Local Security Policy, Performance Monitor, Print Management, Services, System Configuration, Task Scheduler, Windows Firewall with Advanced Security, Windows Memory Diagnostics, and Windows PowerShell Modules.
AutoPlayConfigures AutoPlay options for different types of storage media and multimedia files.
Backup and RestoreProvides file backup and restore and system restore, and the recovery disc maker.
BitLocker Drive EncryptionConfigures and manages full-drive encryption (Enterprise, Ultimate, and Professional only).
Color ManagementConfigures color management settings for displays and printers.
Credential ManagerStores credentials used for Windows login as well as those used for other servers and websites.
Date and TimeSets the current date, time, and time zone for the computer. It can also synchronize system time with an Internet time server.
Default ProgramsConfigures default file types for installed programs. Associates file types with a particular program. Also configures program access and computer defaults and provides access to AutoPlay options.
Desktop GadgetsManages and configures the “new” Desktop Gadgets feature (an updated version of the Windows Vista Sidebar). Also used to download additional gadgets.
Device ManagerConfigures hardware devices and drivers. Also displays usage of hardware resources such as interrupt requests (IRQs), direct memory access (DMA) channels, I/O port addresses, and memory addresses.
Devices and PrintersManages and installs many types of devices and printers, including monitors, digital cameras and imaging devices, mice, keyboards, and others. Replaces the Add Hardware, Printers, and Scanners and Cameras applets in previous versions of Windows.
DisplaySets color calibration, screen font size, resolution, ClearType, and other display settings.
Ease of Access CenterConfigures accessibility tools, such as Magnifier, Narrator, On-Screen Keyboard, High Contrast display, and others.
Folder OptionsSets systemwide folder view options, file associations, and indexing.
FontsAdds and deletes typefaces, and displays examples of system-installed typefaces for screen display and printer output. Includes improved preview and new character search options.
Getting StartedProvides shortcuts to common tasks for new Windows 7 users, including personalization, transferring files and settings from another computer, setting up a homegroup, configuring Windows Update, downloading Windows Live Essentials, configuring Windows Backup, adding new users, and changing screen font size.
HomeGroupConfigures and manages the new HomeGroup feature, which enables easy and secure network sharing between computers running Windows 7.
Indexing OptionsConfigures what locations are indexed and how indexing is performed.
Internet OptionsSets Internet Explorer options.
KeyboardSets key repeat rate, cursor blink rate, language of your keyboard, keyboard type, and drivers, and includes keyboard troubleshooting wizards.
Location and Other SensorsManages the new Windows 7 support for GPS, weather, and other types of sensors.
MouseConfigures mouse properties such as motion speed, double-click, button orientation, cursor shapes, and other proprietary settings dependent on your mouse driver.
Network and Sharing CenterManages all network connections, including LAN, dial-up WAN, and VPN. Configures networking components (clients, services, and protocols) and file/folder devices.
Notification Area IconsConfigures when icons in the notification area are displayed. New in Windows 7.
Parental ControlsConfigures user-based restrictions on computer use, gameplay, and program access.
Performance Information and ToolsDisplays Windows Experience Index and provides access to performance configuration options.
PersonalizationConfigures window and desktop appearance, screen savers, audio sound schemes, mouse pointers, desktop themes, and display settings.
Phone and ModemAdds, removes, and sets the properties of the modem(s) connected to your system. Using this applet, you can declare dialing rules (long-distance numbers, call waiting, credit card calling, and so on). You also can add and remove telephony drivers.
Power OptionsConfigures power settings (“power plans”), power and sleep buttons, and other power management issues.
Programs and FeaturesUninstalls and changes installed programs. Enables or disables Windows features. Tracks installed Windows updates.
RecoveryProvides access to System Restore, as well as troubleshooters, program uninstallers, and file restore from backup.
Region and LanguageSets how Windows displays times, dates, numbers, and currency through region/country settings and language preferences.
RemoteApp and Desktop ConnectionsManages remote connections to your workplace provided by Windows Server 2008 R2.
SoundConfigures audio devices or changes sound scheme.
Speech RecognitionConfigures speech recognition.
Sync CenterConfigures sync partnerships such as Offline Files and others.
SystemExamines and changes your identification (workgroup name, domain name, computer name) and installed devices. Displays amount of RAM available to Windows, type of processor, and processor speed. Using this applet, you can add, disable, and remove specific devices using the Device Manager; configure remote access; set up user profiles; set environment variables; configure visual effects, performance, and Data Execution Protection (DEP); configure Windows Update settings; and set emergency startup options.
Tablet PC SettingsConfigures settings for Tablet PC displays and handwriting recognition.
Taskbar and Start MenuSets the properties for the taskbar and Start menu.
TroubleshootingProvides troubleshooters for Programs, Hardware and Sound, Network and Internet, Appearance and Personalization, System and Security features, and Remote Assistance.
User AccountsAdds, deletes, or configures users. Enables you to assign groups, manage passwords, and set logon mode.
Windows CardSpaceSets up and manages credentials for logging in to secure websites, such as online stores and e-banking.
Windows DefenderConfigures and manages integrated antispyware utility. To learn more about Windows Defender.
Windows FirewallEnables you to turn on, turn off, and fine-tune the firewall that protects your computer from uninvited invasion from the Internet.
Windows Mobility CenterProvides one-click access to audio, power scheme, display brightness, wireless and external display configuration, Sync Center settings, and external presentation display features.
Windows UpdateConfigures how you receive updates to Windows and other Microsoft applications, such as Office.

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