Control Panel is one of the most important areas in Windows for configuring your computer. Although many of the applets in Control Panel can be accessed from elsewhere, Control Panel is the central location for these tools. There are several ways to access Control Panel, and these vary depending on Windows version and configuration. explains three ways to access Control Panel. If none of these applies to the computer you’re working on, please consult Windows Help.

  1. Windows 9x, 2000, and XP with classic Start menu: Go to Start > Settings > Control Panel.

  2. Windows XP with standard Start menu: Go to Start > Control Panel.

  3. All versions if so configured: Open My Computer and click or double-click Control Panel.


In Control Panel, applets are small programs that are used to configure individual components of the OS and hardware. Control Panel contains many applets. The applets and their names vary from version to version. Certain third-party programs install additional applets in Control Panel.


A wizard is a program that leads the user through various steps of configuring software or hardware by prompting for answers to questions. Wizards facilitate simpler configuration of hardware and software by making sure that all of the necessary components are properly configured and that none are missed. Many of the applets in Control Panel contain wizards. The disadvantage to wizards is that they sometimes can limit options available in traditional configuration screens. However, most components can be configured from traditional screens after the wizard has been completed.

The remainder of this section deals with the more important applets.


For XP users, if you reach Control Panel and find that it shows none of the applets described in the following paragraphs, click the Switch to Classic View link that should appear at the top of the menu on the left side of the screen. The default “Category View” is designed more for end users than for technicians.

Accessibility Options

Accessibility Options are aids for people with various disabilities. They are also available in most versions in Start > Programs > Accessories, along with an Accessibility Wizard. This applet is fairly self-explanatory. Check here if you are experiencing unusual keyboard behavior such as ignored brief or repeated keystrokes, sounds such as beeps when certain keys are pressed, exceptionally large or high-contrast video, and so forth. Make sure the user doesn’t need these settings before disabling them. If you do need to disable them to work on the machine and the user needs them, make sure to write down all settings and restore them before returning the machine to the user.

Add/Remove Hardware

This goes by different names in the various versions of Windows. Its purpose is to scan the computer for new hardware components and to install the drivers for them. In the event that Windows doesn’t automatically detect new hardware, compatible hardware can often be installed by following the wizard. This applet is becoming less important as Windows installs almost all Plug and Play hardware automatically. We cover this and related wizards, plus Plug and Play technology, in greater detail in the upcoming section on device drivers.

Administrative Tools: Computer Management

The Administrative Tools folder is available in 2000 and XP only, although there are versions of a few of the tools in 9x. This is a series of tools, most of which are not intended for the average end user. These tools are accessible by themselves, and many are accessible through one of them: Computer Management. Computer Management is also accessible by right-clicking the My Computer icon and clicking Manage from the menu that appears, and from the programs list in the Start menu if so configured. Computer Management is divided into the following three categories:

System Tools

System Tools comprises a collection of tools allowing you to monitor performance and events, view information about hardware and software, and manage shared folders and user and group accounts.


There is another set of tools in all versions called System Tools. These are accessible from the programs in the Start menu and are discussed later in this chapter.

The pertinent tools in this folder vary between 2000 and XP and are:

Event Viewer: You might be directed by a support technician or article to use Event Viewer. For detailed information on Event Viewer, go to http://support.microsoft.com, click the link for searching Knowledge Base articles by number, and enter 308427.


Disk Management: Disk Management is the one very useful program here that isn’t readily available elsewhere. It allows you to view a graphical depiction of the condition of all disk drives installed in the computer. Indicators show the type of partition (system, logical, primary, etc.), its condition (healthy, failed, formatting, healthy [at risk], etc.), file system (FAT, FAT32, NTFS), and other information. As long as the system is bootable, Disk Management allows you to repair some types of disk problems (of course, if the system isn’t bootable, you won’t be able to start Disk Management).

Services and Applications

Services: It allows management of services on the computer. A service is a small program or part of a program whose purpose is to support larger programs or OS components. Many services need to run for Windows and certain installed programs to operate. Some should start automatically with Windows, and some should be started manually only when called on by a program or OS process. If you get a message that says that something isn’t working because a needed service isn’t started, go to Services. Locate the service (hopefully the error message identified the particular service) and double-click on its line in the list.  you’ll see controls that allow you to start the service manually, set it to automatic so it starts when Windows starts, set it to manual so it waits for a command to start, or disable it so it never starts. If you attempt to start the service and it won’t start, it’s time to troubleshoot.


You can also use the XP version of MSConfig to set services to start or stop with Windows

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