How to open the Windows Control Panel

Updated: 11/26/2018 by Computer Hope

Windows logo and Control Panel iconThe Control Panel is a central location in Microsoft Windows where you can adjust your system settings. If you're not sure how to open the Control Panel, select your version of Windows from the list below for instructions.

How to open the Control Panel in Windows 10

In Windows 10, the Control Panel has largely been superseded by the Settings App, which you can access by opening your Start Menu and clicking the gear icon ().

However, the traditional Control Panel is still available:

Windows 10 Control Panel

There are several ways to open the Control Panel in Windows 10.

From the Start Menu

  1. Open the Start Menu.
  2. Scroll down to W, click Windows System, then click Control Panel.

Opening the control panel from the start menu

From the Cortana search bar

  1. The Cortana search bar is located on the left side of your taskbar, next to the Start Menu button. Click the search bar to place your cursor in this box.
  2. Type the word control. Cortana will list best matches above as you type. In this list, click Control Panel.

Opening the control panel from the Cortana search bar

From the Run box

The control command may be used to open the Control Panel. For instance:

  1. Open the Run box by pressing Win+R (hold down the Windows Key on your keyboard, then press the R key).
  2. Type control and press Enter.

Opening the control panel from the Run box

As mentioned below, you can also run the control command from the Windows 10 Command Prompt.

How to open the Control Panel in Windows 8 and 8.1

  1. Move the mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen and right-click.
  2. In the Power User Menu, select Control Panel.

Tip: If you are having trouble finding a specific icon, there is a search box in the top-right corner of the Control Panel window.

How to open the Control Panel in Windows Vista and 7

  1. On the Windows desktop screen, click the Start button.
  2. Click Control Panel on the right side of the Start Menu.
  3. You may see a window similar to the following image. You may also see the expanded version of the Control Panel, with icons for all the various utilities available in the Control Panel.

Microsoft Windows 7 Control Panel
Microsoft Windows 7 Control Panel

Tip: If you are having trouble finding a specific icon, there is a search box in the top-right corner of the Control Panel window.

How to open the Control Panel in Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, and XP

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Settings, then Control Panel.
  3. You should have a window that resembles one of the following images.

Microsoft Windows XP Control Panel
Microsoft Windows XP Control Panel

Windows Classic View vs. Windows Category View

Windows XP introduced two different ways to display the Control Panel: Classic View and Category View. By default, Windows displays the Control Panel in Category View (shown above), listing icons under broad categories rather than each one individually. For example, clicking Appearance and Themes allows you to adjust the theme, background, screen saver, and screen resolution. You can switch between these two views by clicking the link in the top-left section of the Control Panel window.

Microsoft Windows 98 Control Panel
Microsoft Windows 98 Control Panel

How to open the Control Panel from the Windows command line

You can use the control command to open the Control Panel, as well as many of the Control Panel icons through the command line.

How to open the Control Panel in Windows 3.x

In Microsoft Windows 3.x, you can open the Control Panel window through the Main folder within Program Manager.

Additional information