Sunday, May 24, 2015

How to create a desktop shortcut to the Control Panel in Windows XP or Vista

The Control Panel is something that just about any Windows user will have to access at some point during their computer's life.  On many Windows computers, a link to the Control Panel is included on the Start menu, but if you like, you can also add a shortcut to it on the desktop.

To create a Control Panel shortcut, right click on an empty area of your desktop and from the context menu, choose New.  A submenu will appear; select Shortcut.  After a moment or two, the Create Shortcut wizard will open.

The first thing to do in the wizard is to point the shortcut to the file or program you want to open.  For a shortcut to the Control Panel, type "control" in the text field, and then click Next to go on to the next page.

You'll be asked to enter a name for your shortcut.  The default shortcut name will be the same as the location of the file (which in this case is "control") but you can delete it and enter your own name for the shortcut (such as "Control Panel Shortcut" or anything else you want to call it).  Once you've decided on a shortcut name, click Finish.

The Control Panel shortcut will appear on the desktop in the area where you originally right-clicked to open the wizard (unless you have Auto Arrange enabled), but you can move the shortcut anywhere on your desktop that you want.  You can even drag it down to your Quick Launch bar, if you have that toolbar enabled, for even easier access.

By default, the Control Panel shortcut in Windows XP will use a generic icon that looks like a blank computer screen.  (In Vista, it will be a more appropriate program icon.)  You can customize the shortcut to use another icon by right clicking on the icon and selecting Properties, then clicking Change Icon under the Shortcut tab.  A large list of standard Windows icons will be displayed, and you can choose whichever one you want to use.  (On Vista computers, you'll have to browse to find the icons.)  If an error message pops up stating that there are no icons, click OK and then the icon list will be displayed.  If you have other icons saved on your computer, you can browse to the location where they are stored and choose one of them to use instead.

(Originally published on, December 2011)

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