Chapter 8. The Control Panel

The Control Panel is an extremely important window in Windows XP. It’s teeming with miniature applications 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 controls) every day. Others are so obscure, you’ll wonder what on earth inspired Microsoft to create them. This chapter covers them all.

Category View: The Big XP Change

To see your PC’s collection of Control Panel programs, open the Control Panel window by choosing StartControl Panel.

The first time you see the XP Control Panel, you may be in for a shock. Instead of the list of two dozen programs that used to be there, there are now only nine gigantic icons under the headline, “Pick a category” (Figure 8-1).

Microsoft developed this new design to be friendlier to novices. First click the category heading that you think contains the settings you want to change, such as Appear-ance and Themes. Now you’ll see a second screen (Figure 8-1, bottom) that lists a few common tasks in that category: “Change the desktop background,” “Choose a screen saver,” and so on.

At this point, if you so desire, open the relevant Control Panel program by clicking its icon at the bottom of the screen (Display, in this example). But by clicking the name of the task instead, you’re spared a bit of hunting around, since Windows XP takes you directly to the appropriate tab of the appropriate program.


If you ...

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