What Is Control Panel? [All You Need to Know]

Tracy King updated on Sep 06, 2022 to Knowledge Center

The Control Panel is an integral component of Windows that allows us to access and change all Windows settings in one place. We all have used the Control Panel once to change the date and time settings or to create backups. We all have a basic understanding of the Control Panel, but that's not enough. It's essential to have ample knowledge about it to use the Control Panel best. This is the reason we have drafted this informative guide on Windows's Control Panel program. We have thoroughly discussed the main question - What Is Control Panel and the steps to access it on different versions of Windows. Let's move ahead and learn more about the Control Panel. 

What Is Control Panel and Its Uses

The Control Panel is a graphical user interface (GUI) that shows all the Windows settings in one place. It enables us to easily access and modify all Windows settings under one roof. The Control Panel is a centralized configuration area in Windows that lets us access the different component settings. It comes with all Windows versions, including the latest and prior versions, like Windows 1.0, XP, etc. 

In other words, the Control Panel is a collection of different Windows settings, also known as Applets. Those applets can also be understood as Sections. The Control Panel is divided into multiple applets that help users find the component settings they are looking for with less effort. These applets enable us to perform various actions, such as adding or removing user accounts, installing or uninstalling programs and features, changing accessibility options, and more.

The new Windows 11's Control Panel is divided into eight different sections. Each applet navigates us to different component settings. For instance, the Programs applet only lets us uninstall third-party programs and system features. Similarly, the Network and Internet section allows us to change the adapter and other network settings.

The Windows 11 Control Panel has all these sections: 

  1. System & Security - Mostly used for creating new backups and restoring old backups.
  2. User Accounts - For adding or removing user accounts, etc.
  3. Network & Internet - For managing network and internet settings and troubleshooting problems. 
  4. Appearance & Personalization - For changing system fonts, icon sizes, and navigation properties.
  5. Hardware & Sound - To add new devices and access connected devices.
  6. Clock & Region - For changing time, date, or number settings.
  7. Ease of Access - For enabling speech recognition features.
  8. Programs - To uninstall third-party programs and Windows features.

One of the primary uses of the Control Panel is to make changes to the system settings with ease. Many Windows users use the Control Panel to create and restore backups, customize the desktop, view devices and printers, and add or remove devices. A set of Windows users also use it for troubleshooting Windows problems. However, the use case can vary from user to user. 

What Is the Development History of the Control Panel

The development history of the Windows Control Panel has been incredible. It was first introduced as an introductory program to manage settings but now holds an important place in Windows OS. 

Microsoft introduced the Control Panel in Windows 1.0, the earliest version of Windows. Windows 1.0 was released in 1985. In 1985, the interface of the Control Panel was pretty basic, or classic, with fewer graphics. It used to offer very few options, like brightness, font customization, etc. At that time, Microsoft introduced its foremost game in Windows called Reversi

windows control panel 1.0

Microsoft then released Windows 2.0 in 1987 with significant enhancements in all aspects. In 1987, the Control Panel also got an enhanced design and some new options. Microsoft again added a new game in Windows 2.0 called Solitaire, which is still alive even after many years of its launch. 

windows control panel 2.0

Moving forward, Microsoft released Windows 3.1 in 1992, which was one of the significant Windows updates as it had the new TrueType font format. Interestingly, the Control Panel in Windows 3.1 was pretty advanced compared to the previous versions. We saw advanced options, like printer connectivity, font customization, mouse and keyboard preferences, and more. Additionally, this version of Windows also had a new game called Minesweeper, which was one of the legendary games in the history of Windows.   

windows control panel 3.1

Microsoft continued releasing different versions of Windows with significant changes and advancements. Then, in 2001, Microsoft released a major Windows version, Windows XP. Undoubtedly, it's still the first choice for many old-generation Windows users. Microsoft had also introduced a new font type in Windows XP called ClearType, primarily designed to make the font easier to read and understand. 

windows xp control panel

After that, the newer versions of Windows, like Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10, got more advanced features like User Account Control, Snaps, Widgets, etc. Most importantly, we saw a considerable improvement in the Control Panel in all these Windows versions. Until now, Microsoft has added tons of new and advanced features to the Control Panel. And it has developed a lot with each release of Windows. For sure, it will keep evolving with time. 

windows 11 control panel

How to Open the Windows Control Panel

Windows has different settings, and all of them can be accessed and modified single-handedly from the Control Panel app. Various methods exist to access the Control Panel in Windows 11 and the prior Windows versions. Here in this section, we have mentioned all possible methods to open the Control Panel in Windows.

Access Control Panel in Windows 11

Here are the five methods to access Control Panel in Windows 11. 

  1. Method 1. Using the Windows Search Bar 
  2. Method 2. Through Run
  3. Method 3. Using Settings
  4. Method 4. Using the Start Menu Windows Tools
  5. Method 5. Using the Address Bar in File Explorer

Method 1. Using the Windows Search Bar 

You can access the Control Panel in Windows 11 using the Windows Search Bar. Follow the below-mentioned steps to open the Control Panel with Windows Search.  

Step 1. First, click on the "Search icon" in the taskbar. 

use windows search bar step 1

Step 2. Then, type Control Panel in the search bar. 

use windows search bar step 2

Step 3. And then, click on the "Control Panel" under the Best match section. 

use windows search bar step 3

Method 2. Access Control Panel Through Run

Using the Run program is one of the easiest methods to launch the Control Panel in Windows 11. Follow us along to do the same. 

Step 1. Press "Windows + R" to launch the Run program. 

through run step 1

Step 2. Type Control in the search bar and hit the "Enter" key. 

through run step 2

Method 3. Using Settings

You can also open the Control Panel through the Windows Settings app, and here are the steps to do the same. 

Step 1. Press the "Windows + I" key to open the Settings app. 

Step 2. Type Control Panel in the search bar. 

Step 3. Click on the "Control Panel" appearing in the search results.

using settings

Method 4. Using the Start Menu Windows Tools

Another easy way to launch the Control Panel tool is through the Windows Tools menu. Below are the steps to know the same. 

Step 1. First, click on the "Windows icon" in the taskbar. 

using start menu windows tool step 1

Step 2. Then, click on "All apps".

using start menu windows tool step 2

Step 3. Now, select "Windows Tools". 

using start menu windows tool step 3

Step 4. Lastly, click on the "Control Panel" to open it. 

using start menu windows tool step 4

Method 5. Using the Address Bar in File Explorer

The last way to access the Control Panel in Windows 11 is using the File Explorer app. Follow the below-mentioned steps to open the Control Panel with ease. 

Step 1. First, open This PC app on your Windows 11 PC. 

using address bar step 1

Step 2. Now, click on the "arrow" next to the Monitor icon in the search bar. 

using address bar step 2

Step 3. In the end, select the "Control Panel" from the dropdown menu. 

using address bar step 3

Access Control Panel in Windows 10

Follow the below-mentioned steps to open the Control Panel in Windows 10.

Step 1. Click on the "Search Bar" in the taskbar. 

Step 2. Then, type Control Panel and press "Enter". 

Step 3. And click on the "Control Panel" from the search results. 

in windows 10

Access Control Panel in Windows 8 and 8.1

Below are the steps to launch the Control Panel app in Windows 8 and 8.1 from the Power User Menu. 

Step 1. Move the mouse's arrow to the "button-left corner" of the screen and "right-click". 

Step 2. Then, select the "Control Panel" in the Power User Menu. 

in windows 8 and 8.1

Access Control Panel in Windows Vista and 7

Here are the steps to access the Control Panel utility in Windows Vista and 7 from the Start Menu. 

Step 1. Click on "Start" on your desktop screen. 

Step 2. In the end, select the "Control Panel" from the right side of the Start.

in windows vista 7

In Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, and XP

Below are the steps to open the Control Panel app in Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, and XP through the Start Menu. 

Step 1. Click on "Start" and select "Settings". 

Step 2. Lastly, select the "Control Panel" from the mentioned options. 

in windows 95 98

Conclusion

To sum up, the Control Panel is one of the easiest ways to access all Windows settings in a single location. You can simply open the Control Panel and easily modify any system settings. We mentioned possible methods to open the Control Panel app on Windows above. Besides that, we also discussed the Control Panel to help you understand the program better. We hope this guide helped you learn more about the Control Panel app.

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