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Despite the addition of several new functions, the appearance of Control panel hasn’t really changed since the Windows 95 days. However, Microsoft has radically modified the Control Panel's look and feel in Vista. Here is a guided tour around this new interface and some tips and tricks to master Windows Control Panel.
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Tip 1 - Accessing the Control Panel
Windows Vista offers several ways to access the Control Panel. The most comfortable way is to double-click the icon in the Welcome Center which runs whenever Vista boots up. Another way is to go to the Start menu and choose Control Panel from the list. You'll also find a link to the Control Panel in Computer window, but if you'd like a quick access you can always create a short cut of the Control Panel on your desktop. Another way of running the Control Panel is to type ‘control panel’ in the Search box on the Start menu and then hit the Enter key.
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Tip 2 - Customizing the looks of Control Panel
After you have opened the Control Panel, you might want to change the way it looks. In Vista all the tasks are arranged by category, but it's easy to make it look like XP's version by clicking the Classic View link in the left-hand panel. You can always return to the Vista-type view by clicking the Control Panel’s Home link in the left-hand panel, or by just clicking the Back arrow of address bar. If you miss the old-style menu bar of the Control Panel or any other Explorer window as it was in Window XP, you can toggle it ON and OFF by pressing the AIt key on your keyboard. You can make the menu bar permanently visible from here by choosing Tools → Folder Options, and then clicking on the View tab in the window options.
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Tip 3 – Arranging Icons in Control Panel
The default Classic View of the Control Panel is useful but still not perfect as you get to see an icon for every applet, but they're only sorted by name and not by category, making it hard to pick out the setting you need. But it is easy to organize this view by right-clicking on the empty part of the Control Panel window and selecting Group By → Category. Now you will see an icon for every applet, and at the same time they're displayed in categories to make your search easy. Another irritation with the regular icon view is that long applet names are only partially displayed, for example, Problem Reports and Solutions becomes Problem Reports a ... . To display the applets as tiles you have to right-click in the window, select View> Tiles, and you will be able to see the full name.
How to Master Windows Vista's Control Panel – Part 1
Tips, tricks, and tactics to master the few useful but lesser-known features of Control Panel in Windows Vista