Information and help with the Windows control.ini file

Updated: 01/24/2018 by Computer Hope

What is the Windows control.ini file?

windows control .ini file

The Windows control.ini file is associated with the Microsoft Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, and XP Control Panel. This file is used to customize and change how the Control Panel operates and what is seen in the Control Panel.

Earlier versions of Microsoft Windows (Windows 95, 98, and ME) also used this file to configure how Windows displays icons as well as screen savers, passwords, and other OS settings. New versions of Windows such as Windows 2000 and Windows XP still create this file for backward compatibility. However, apart from hiding Control Panel icons this file is no longer used.

Depending on your version of Windows the control.ini file will be located in either the c:\windows or c:\winnt directory and may or may not have any data within it.

How to hide a Control Panel icon using the control.ini file

If you do not want to not delete a particular Control Panel icon, but do want to conceal it so other users can't easily use it, edit the file control.ini. (You can do this with any text editor, including Notepad.) Insert a new line at the beginning of the file, which begins with the text [don't load], followed by a space, and the name of the icon to hide.

In the following example, adding the two lines would cause the Passwords icon in Windows 95, 98, and ME to not shown in the Control Panel.

[don't load]
password.cpl=no

The control.ini file re-appears after I delete it

This file is re-created by Windows when Control Panel is opened or Windows is restarted.