Chapter 8. The Control Panel

Like the control panel in the cockpit of an airplane, the Control Panel is an extremely important feature of Windows Vista. It’s teeming with miniature applications (or applets) that govern every conceivable setting for every conceivable component of your computer. Some are so important, you may use them (or their corresponding notification-area icons) every day. Others are so obscure you’ll wonder what on earth inspired Microsoft to create them. This chapter covers them all.


Here and there, within the Control Panel, you’ll spot a little Windows security-shield icon. It tells you that you’re about to make an important, major change to the operating system, something that will affect everyone who uses this PC—fiddling with its network settings, for example, or changing its clock. To prove your worthiness (and to prove that you’re not an evil virus attempting to make a nasty change), you’ll be asked to authenticate yourself; see the box for details.

Home View: The Big Vista Change

All Versions

To have a look at your Control Panel applet collection, choose Start→Control Panel to open the Control Panel window.

You’ll see that for the third straight Windows edition, Microsoft has rejiggered the layout in an attempt to make the thing easier to navigate.

The most important change is the pair of links in the task pane at the left side of the window. This task pane indicates that there are two ways to view the window’s contents: Control Panel Home and Classic View ...

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