Components of Microsoft Windows

Settings of Microsoft Windows
[#mswncpnl]: Control Panel

Perhaps the most famous spot to check out settings is the “Control Panel”. (The “registry” may have been known to rival Control Panel's fame, at least at some times.)

[#rnwncpnl]: Running code related to the Control Panel icons
Specifying a control panel applet to the Control Panel program

Often, running start somefile.cpl will work. Running “control somefile.cpl” should work.

Some technicials will simply memorize the names of some commonly referenced control panel applets. The names of some control panel applet files are shown by MS KB 149648. MS KB 313808 has as similar list to Windows XP.

Using RunDLL32

Another option is:

rundll32 shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL filename.cpl,@0,1

The first comma and the @ and the following number are also optional, and specify an applet (some specific code) stored within a *.cpl “applet” file.

The second comma, and the following number, are optional. That specifies a tab to show. If there is a desire to specify which tab to foreground, but there is no desire to specify a specific section of code, then just put two commas and a number after the filename.

The filename is also optional. Leaving that off will simply run the Control Panel.

Forum post shows several examples. Here is just one:

[#cpnlsppg]: Control panel: options page (example)
rundll32 shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL desk.cpl,,3

Shows the “Display Properties - Properties” window. (That may have been the accurate window title from Win9x.) In some newer version of Microsoft Windows (including Windows 10), this screen of options is titled “Screen Resolution”. (Despite the name of the screen changing, the old shortcut still functions.)

Using special hard-coded command line parameters

In some cases, there may simply be another command line parameter passed to the control program. MS KB 180025 may show some examples.

Usage of Canonical Names

This method has not been thoroughly explored, but is being documented for reference as it does appear to be useful:

This might be useful for programmers using some sort of Windows SDK: MSDN: Canonical Names of Control Panel Items.

For instance, System Center Central: Control Panel Applets and Command Line Launch Options for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 looks like it is using these names with the /name parameter for Windows Control Panel. (Despite the title of the article, this might not require Windows 8: Using the example for Speech Recognition did seem to work for Windows 7.)

About.com PC Support: Command Line Commands for Control Panel Applets provides several /name options as well. (For example, “Microsoft.DefaultPrograms” was documented here after finding it in that web page's list.)

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section on “Canonical Names” says, “In Windows Vista and later, the preferred method of launching a Control Panel item from a command line is to use the Control Panel item's canonical name.”

“All Tasks”/“Master Control Panel”

A large collection of settings is available by a sort of special Control Panel applet (Vista+).

The safe way to access this may be to run: “ explorer.exe shell:::{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} ”. This may only be valid for some versions of Microsoft Windows. When viewed as a folder, the folder may be shown the name “All Tasks”. A shortcut icon running that command line can be safely made. (If that icon causes problems, then it may be safely ignored until it is deleted.)

Alternatively, creating a shortcut icon named “.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}” might also open this up. However, Wikipepdia's article on “Windows Master Control Panel shortcut”: section called “Stability” has indicated that making such a directory (or file) “may cause unexpected results or repeated crashes”. This may be a bit more challenging to recover from, and so is not the recommended method.

It appears that the reason people have named this folder “Master Control Panel” is because the various sections of options correspond to Control Panel icons. It seems this “All Tasks” was not something Microsoft really intended to have as a polished experience that end users may use. Rather, having these settings be viewed like af older was the result of some technical abilities that were intentionally created for the intent of using these abilities for other purposes (as described by Wikipedia's page for “Windows Master Control Panel shortcut”: section called “Related shortcuts”). Geoff Chappel's page on the Explorer command line mentions that any “shell-namespace path” can be opened up this way.

The window shows a number of options that can be double-clicked on to bring up various screens of options, many of which are screens generally reachable by using the standard Control Panel.

Further details/discussion about Master Control Panel are described by Wikipedia page about Windows Master Control Panel shortcut.

Settings (e.g. Listing icons), Policies

For newer versions of Microsoft Windows (presumably Windows XP and newer, perhaps Win2K), check out the "HKCU\Control Panel" and "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Control Panel\Cpls" registry keys. Both of these may have a sub-folder called “don't load”.

Vishal Gupta's article on hiding or showing Control Panel applets also points to some policies stored in HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies and also makes note of, under/relative to that location, entries (that might not pre-exist) named Explorer\DisallowCpl and Explorer\RestrictCpl (which are both DWORD values within the Explorer folder, and also Keys (which are often rendered as subdirectories/subfolders).

In Windows ME and in versions of Windows pre-dating Windows 2000, the available icons were handled by a file called Control.ini (which was probably in the %windir%\ directory). ComputerHome article on Control.ini file says that Win2K and XP “still create this file for backwards compatibility however apart from hiding Control Panel icons this file is no longer used.”

Group Policy settings related to the Control Panel

Identifying Control Panel Icons

It seems like the Control Panel icons can be seen by looking at data in some various locations under HKCR\CLSID. This was figured out after seeing the method used by HowToGeek.com: How to Add Registry Editor to Control Panel. Doing this led to downloading a registry file that actually adds an icon that can be clicked on after entering the Control Panel.

To try to see just data about those icons, without seeing too much unrelated data, you can try running this:

for /F %X in ('reg query HKCR\CLSID /s /v System.ApplicationName | find /i "HKEY_"') do REG QUERY %X

To see even less information, you could try showing the application names:

REG QUERY HKCR\CLSID /z /s /v System.ApplicationName
Classic/Icons View vs. Category View

In Windows Vista and newer, the Control Panel may show what Windows 7 calls “Category” View. In Windows Server 2008, this view was simply named [the “Control Panel Home” view (of Windows Server 2008)].

The older view is also available. In Windows Server 2008, an option on the left frame is called “Classic View”. In Windows 7, the upper-right corner has a sort of drop-down box which is called “View by:”, and can be flipped between “Category” or “Large icons” or “Small icons”.

There's no significant advantage to using the new Category view. (At least, the author of this text has not found any such advantage.) There is one benefit, which is that there are hyperlinks to other tools of the operating system. However, that is simply a benefit of convenience, and many of these hyperlinks have not been consistent between operating systems. Many long-term technicians prefer to simply get into Classic View, where the desired Control Panel icons can then be found quickly, as they are nicely sorted alphabetically. (In Windows 7, this is done by selecting either “Large icons” or “Small icons”, it doesn't matter which.)

Thanks to... HowToGeek.com: How to Add the Control Panel to Windows’ File Explorer, some GUIDs were found for being able to access the Control Panel. That led to being able to find these command lines to jump straight into the view of your choice. (Typing these command lines in is probably more challenging than just running Control and specifying the desired view, so knowing these GUIDs probably won't be very useful for reading these to someone just to lead some troubleshooting effort that involves speaking directions over a telephone. However, this might be useful for making batch files.)

Running Control Panel in Classic/Icons View
Explorer shell:::{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}
Running Control Panel in Category View

If you want to inflict yourself with unnecessary clicking...

Explorer shell:::{26EE0668-A00A-44D7-9371-BEB064C98683}
https://howtogeek.com/howto/16352/how-to-add-control-panel-to-my-computer-in-windows-7-or-vista shows icon view...

Icons

(At the time of this writing, this section showed some of the command lines looking like they were just blank. This is not an HTML error, but is a known situation. As commands get discovered, they are likely to become documented in this section. There probably is a way to access each of these pages, perhaps by using RunDLL or perhaps PowerShell.)

[#accescpl]: Accessibility Options

In newer versions of Microsoft Windows, the icon may have a new name in Control Panel (such as “Ease of Access Center”). However, the file used to start the program may still be called access.cpl (as identified by the good ol' MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command).

control access.cpl

Perhaps depending on the version of Microsoft Windows, this might include functionality related to Mouse Control Panel applet and Keyboard Control Panel applet.

Another way to start this is:

Explorer shell:::{D555645E-D4F8-4c29-A827-D93C859C4F2A}
Action Center

This can recommend actions.

It also may display some undesired messages, such as warning end users if Microsoft Windows firewall is off or if Microsoft Windows did not detect a supported anti-virus product. Perhaps neither of those examples are really desirable, in theory, but in practice a functional IT department should be able to make choices about what sort of security software is running on the end user's machines. If security solutions are in place, but if those solutions are not detected by the Action Center, then there are three ways to handle that:

  • Ignore the warnings. Tell end users to ignore the warnings.
  • Use a solution that Microsoft Windows detects as sufficient, so that Windows doesn't complain. This might mean changing to a version of software that is detected by Microsoft Windows.
  • Use policy (Group Policy) to cause Action Center to just not care about such messages. This way, end users don't need to complain.
Add (New) Hardware

This was a named icon as late as Windows Server 2008, where it was named “Add Hardware”.

The following command line was provided by MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command.

control sysdm.cpl add new hardware

It seems this was removed from Windows 7, but there are a couple of ways to perform equivilent functionality. One is to run hdwwiz (or, slightly more specifically, hdwwiz.exe). The other, more GUI-based, approach is to go into the Device Manager (which does have a direct Control Panel icon), and access the context/“shortcut”/“right click” menu of the name of the computer (which is the top object in Device Manager), and choose “Add Legacy Hardware”.

For similar/related topics, see: hardware detection.

Administrative Tools

These have become so useful that newer versions of Microsoft Windows include these, even in the Home versions of the operating systems. Also, they may be available directly from the Start Menu (by choosing “Administrative Tools” directly, instead of going through the Control Panel first). These are documented in more length, in a separate section. See: Microsoft Windows Administrative Tools.

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe admintools ”. The web page identifies this as being “For Windows 2000 and later” (although chances seem quite good that might exclude Windows ME, even though Windows ME was released newer than Windows 2000).

AutoPlay


Backup and Restore

Found in Windows 7, not in 2008. Older versions of Microsoft Windows (and even MS-DOS) have had backup software, but the software may have been started using a method other than a Control Panel applet. Solutions have included NTBackup (valid up through Windows Server 2003, including Windows XP) and WBAdmin.


This topic is discussed more generically by the section on backup.

Color Management


Credential Manager

Found in Windows 7, not in 2008.

rundll32.exe keymgr.dll,KRShowKeyMgr

or

start shell:CredentialManager

Similar commands might include “ control /name Microsoft.CredentialManager ”, net (using net use with /savecred), a hidden file called Cmdkey.exe

Date and Time

control timedate.cpl

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe date/time ” to open the “Date and Time Properties” window.

[#msdflprg]: Default Programs

control /name Microsoft.DefaultPrograms

The command above shows how to access the GUI. (Tested in Windows 10.)

Although this can also be adjusted using the Windows Registry, there are some command line tools that can also be helpful.

Command line programs for file associations

First, you can see which “filetype” an extension is associated with. e.g., “ assoc .ext ” Or, that can be changed, e.g. “ assoc .ext=demofile ”.

Then, to see what command a filetype uses, use either:

ftype demofile

or...

reg query HKCR\demofile\SHELL\OPEN\COMMAND /ve

A new value could be created:

ftype demofile=C:\Windows\System32\notepad %%1

(The first percent sign is simply the escape character to make the second percent sign literal.)

When testing, there were some challenges related to UAC, and some challenges related to permissions assigned to some registry data. The full executable's filename (although not necessarily its entire path) needed to be specified. Details are discussed further in TOOGAM's SuperUser.com answer about working with associations from the command line (and commentary below that answer).

Perhaps see also: “ control appwiz.cpl,,3 ” (“Set Program Access & Defaults”).

In Windows 10, this appeared in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\System Tools (icon = window with green checkbox), which had a target of “%windir%\system32\control.exe /name Microsoft.DefaultPrograms”...

Also, in Windows 10, this appear at %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\System Tools (icon looks like gears) which showed a target type that started with: “windows.immersivecontrolpanel_cw5n1h2txyewy!rr”.

Desktop Gadgets

Found in Windows 7, not in 2008


[#wndevmgr]: Device Manager

Runs Device Manager. Device Manager is available via MMC, and as part of Computer Management. In Win Svr 2008, t is also available under the Control Panel icon named “System”, by choosing “Device Manager” hyperlink from the left frame, or by first going to “Advanced system settings, then “Hardware” tab, and then the Device Manager button.

RunDLL32 devmgr.dll DeviceManager_Execute

or, for newer versions of Microsoft Windows:

start devmgmt.msc /S

or, for older versions of Microsoft Windows:

start devmgmt.msc /S

(In newer versions of Microsoft Windows, that command simply goes to the “Hardware” tab of the Control Panel applet called “System”.)

See: detected hardware in Device Manager.

There are also ways to interact with the hardware using the command line, such as Microsoft's DevCon program. (See some of the other options related to detecting hardware, listed at hardware detection. Some of those options may be able to interact with the detected hardware.)

[#dvicnprn]: Devices and Printers

In Windows 7, this is called “Devices and Printers”. In Windows Server 2008, the similar icon is simply the Control Panel applet named “Printers”. If looking for Devices in older operating systems, there might be a control panel applet called “Scanners and Cameras”.

[#deskcpl]: Display
control desk.cpl

In versions of Microsoft Windows prior to Windows Vista, this could often be accessed by right-clicking on the background of the Desktop, and choosing Properties. In Windows Server 2008, there may not even be a Control Panel icon called “Display”, but similar settings may be found under “Personalization”, and then one of the options such as “Display Settings”.

One of the primary/frequent/popular reasons people have used this interface is to change the resolution of the output display. Other methods may be listed in the section about Microsoft Windows 2D interface.

(This control panel applet was used as an example: Control panel: options page (example). That demonstrated going to a specific page.)

rundll32 shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL desk.cpl,,3

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe desktop ”. (However, the page also notes, “Starter and Basic Editions do not support this command.”.)

The same web page also notes “ control.exe color ” as opening “the Display Properties window with the Appearance tab preselected.”

Ease of Access Center

See: Accessibility (Control Panet Applet)

FindFast

This does not appear to be in Windows Server 2008 or Windows 7, but is mentioned by MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command.

control findfast.cpl
[#mswfldop]: Folder Options

To go straight to one of the tabs, use the general format of:

rundll32 shell32.dll,Options_RunDLL #

Where the last character (in the above sample) is replaced with one of the following digits (documented by bitsmack's answer to a SuperUser.com question by “now he who must not be named.”)

  • 0 - “General” tab
  • 7 - “View” tab
  • 2 - “Search” tab

Or, for less typing:

control folders

will go to the “General” tab.

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe folders ”. The web page identifies this as being “For Windows 2000 and later” (although chances seem quite good that might exclude Windows ME, even though Windows ME was released newer than Windows 2000).

You can also enter this using the GUI. First, go to Windows File Explorer (which might be named “Windows Explorer” or “File Explorer”, depending on the version of Microsoft Windows being used.)

Using Windows 10's GUI

In File Explorer, choosing the “View” menu will effectivley choosing the “View” ribbon; then find the “Options” button [Y] and choose “Change folder and search options”.

Windows 7 / Earlier

Running Windows Explorer, and then choosing the Tools menu (or perhaps the View menu?), and then choosing “Folder options...”

Fonts
Start %windir%\Fonts

In Windows 7, the one difference between going to the folder via the Control Panel, compared to going to the folder via Explorer, is that the shown address may look something like “Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Fonts”

Another option (which is presented by Q192806) is:

control fonts

This has been confirmed (in Windows 7) to NOT be specifying the filename of a *.cpl file.

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe fonts ”.

Getting Started

This is found in Windows 7, not Windows Server 2008


HomeGroup

This is found in Windows 7, not Windows Server 2008


(Command line not yet identified, but one can probably be concocted using information at HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{67CA7650-96E6-4FDD-BB43-A8E774F73A57} which references hgcpl.dll)

If you'd rather not see the HomeGroup references in the operating system, here is a brief overview of the steps elaborated at HowToGeek.com: ...:

  1. If you are already in a Home Group, then leave it. (This may be done through a Control Panel applet.)
    • Disable the HomeGroupProvider service
    • Disable the HomeGroupListender service
    • That's it for Windows 7. For Windows 8 or Windows 10, you'll need to add a registry value.
      1. First, take ownership of HKLM\SOFTWARE\Classes\{B4FB3F98-C1EA-428d-A78A-D1F5659CBA93}
      2. Then, add a value to that key. (It probably will not pre-exist.)
        REG QUERY HKLM\SOFTWARE\Classes\{B4FB3F98-C1EA-428d-A78A-D1F5659CBA93} /v System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree
        REG ADD HKLM\SOFTWARE\Classes\{B4FB3F98-C1EA-428d-A78A-D1F5659CBA93} /v System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree /t REG_DWORD /d 0
Indexing Options


Infrared
control.exe infrared

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe infrared ”. This “Launches the Infrared Monitor window (if installed).” The web page identifies this as being “For Windows 2000 and later” (although chances seem quite good that might exclude Windows ME, even though Windows ME was released newer than Windows 2000).

Internet Options/Properties
control inetcpl.cpl

or

control /name Microsoft.InternetOptions

This is the same as going into Microsoft Internet Explorer, and then choosing the Tools menu, and selecting “Internet options”.

iSCSI Initiator


This is found in Windows Server 2008, not Windows 7

[#joycpl]: Joystick Properties

This might not show up (confirmed in Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7). Perhaps it only shows up if a Game Port, or a USB-based joystick, gets detected. MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command identifies this as:

control joy.cpl

In some versions of Microsoft Windows, a gamepad may be listed in the Control Panel under “Devices and Printers”.

Note: The joystick might not be detected if the joystick itself is not powered. For instance, if using the wireless Microsoft Xbox Controller for Windows, even if the wireless receiver is plugged into the USB port, the joystick needs to be powered on and synchronized with the receiver. Otherwise, it may simply not show up, at all, in this Control Panel interface. (Naturally, any required drivers may also need to be pre-installed.)

Some similar/related software interfaces might be available from: TOOGAM's software archive: software related to joysticks.

[#keybcpl]: Keyboard

MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command identifies this as:

control main.cpl keyboard

(Or, another way...)

control main.cpl,@1

Some related settings may be under Accessibility (or the newer name, “Ease of Access Center”) under “Make the keyboard easier to use”.

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe keyboard ”.

Location and Other Sensors


This is found in Windows 7, not Windows Server 2008

Mail (or similar)

The title of this control panel icon may vary. On a 64-bit system, if there is not an icon labelled Mail, an option may need to be selected (in the Control Panel) to View 32-bit icons.

MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command identifies this as:

control mlcfg32.cpl

to open an icon called “Microsoft Exchange” or “Windows Messaging”, or, for an icon titled “Microsoft Mail Post Office” (perhaps for Workgroup Post Office?), run:

control wgpocpl.cpl
[#modemcpl]: Modem Properties

This was not seen in Windows Server 2008 nor Windows 7, but MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command identifies this as:

control modem.cpl

In Windows 7, this was found under an icon called “Phone and Modem”.

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe telephony ”, which “Launches the Phone and Modem Options window”. The web page identifies this as being “For Windows 2000 and later” (although chances seem quite good that might exclude Windows ME, even though Windows ME was released newer than Windows 2000).

[#mousecpl]: Mouse

MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command identifies this simply as:

control main.cpl

(That might seem doubtful, but has been confirmed on Windows 7.)

Another way:

control main.cpl,@0,1

The @0 specifies to use the “Mouse” properties (instead of @1, which would use the “Keyboard” properties). The, the number after the next column is a zero-baed count. So 0 is the first tab (which is the default), which is the “Buttons” tab. Specifiying 1 will go straight to the next tab, which is the “Pointers” tab. Using 2 will specify the next tab, which is the “Pointer Options” tab. The pattern continues: 3 is the “Wheel” tab, and 4 is the “Hardware” tab.

In Windows Server 2008, another way to get to these settings is to go under “Personalization”, and then “Mouse Pointers”. This will bring up the standard “Mouse” Control Panel applet, with the second tab (called “Pointers”) in the foreground.

Some related settings may be under Accessibility (or the newer name, “Ease of Access Center”) under “Make the mouse easier to use”.

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe mouse ”.

Netware
control main.cpl,@0,1

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe netware ”. This “Launches the Novell Netware window (if installed)”. The web page identifies this as being “For Windows 2000 and later” (although chances seem quite good that might exclude Windows ME, even though Windows ME was released newer than Windows 2000).

[#netwkcpl]: Network

The “Network” icon has had different effects with different operating systems. In Windows XP (and similar: Windows 2003 does the same thing), this would bring up the “Network Connections” screen. In Windows Vista (and newer, including Windows 7), this would bring up a newer “Network and Sharing Center” window, which could then be used to get to a screen that shows “Network Connections”.

[#netcpl]: Network Connections

Most usefully is the list of network adapter connection objects, which can generally be viewed with one or more of the following commands:

Control Panel for Win NT
control ncpa.cpl ” on an operating system that is based on NT code
Control Panel for Win9x
control netcpl.cpl ” for an operating system using Win9x code.
Shell extension
start shell:ConnectionsFolder ” for an operating system using Win9x code.

In Windows Server 2003 and at least some older versions, including Windows XP, this could be directly reached by going to the Control Panel and then opening up the “Network” icon.

In Windows Vista and newer, additional steps may be needed. When the Control Panel is set to show all icons, the Control Panel no longer has an icon just labeled “Network”. Instead, it shows an icon called “Network and Sharing Center”. Then, the left frame has a hyperlink that pulls up the “Network Connections” screen that is similar to what older operating systems had. In Windows Server 2008, this hyperlink is called “Manage network connections” In Windows 7, this is “Change adapter settings”, but the resulting window is still named “Network Connections”.

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe netconnections ”. The web page identifies this as being “For Windows 2000 and later” (although chances seem quite good that might exclude Windows ME, even though Windows ME was released newer than Windows 2000).

Other sections of the Network and Sharing Center

There may be multiple ways to reach the “Network and Sharing Center”. One of the most common ways that experienced technicians have learned about is going to the “Control Panel”, and selecting the “Network”-related icon (which may be an icon called “Network and Sharing Center”).

There is another approach which may be even faster, although that might not always be an available option. That is to use the “Wireless” Another approach, which is not always an available option. However, often that opiton is available. Many people may find that this is the fastest way to interactively reach the “Network and Sharing” center. To try this fast way, just left-click on the “System Tray”/“(Message) Notification Area” Network-related Icon, and then the bottom of the screen shows a “Open Network and Sharing Center” hyperlink. Although, that way might not work (such as if the network icon is using a vendor's proprietary software). For further details, see the section about the “System Tray”/“(Message) Notification Area” Network-related Icon (which was just hyperlinked earlier in this paragraph), or Network Sharing Center via Wireless icon.

Related: [#netraicn]: “System Tray”/“(Message) Notification Area” Network-related Icons

The convenient fact is that many systems may show an icon in the “system tray”. (The “system tray” is also known as the “message notification area”.) The less convenient fact is that this icon might not even exist, and even if it does exist, the look of the icon may be different.

Before Microsoft released a standardized interface, some vendors of networking equipment created an icon that could appear in the “system tray”. Creating such an icon was such a great idea that Microsoft decided to do it themselves. So, there is a possibility that such an icon is not even the official Microsoft icon.

There could potentially even be two icons for the same connection (one which is a Microsoft icon, and one which is a vendor icon). Although most computers do not show two icons for one connection (at least, not for a very long time, because people will typically disable at least one of those icons), the potential for multiple icons just proves the point that there are multiple possibilities. When accessing a network icon in the system tray, be slightly careful, to determine just what the icon does.

At least in Windows 7, even if the icon does exist, it may look different depending on what type of connection is used. A wireless connection may look like 5 bars which increase in length towards the right of the icon (so they look like “reception bars”. A wired connection may look like a monitor, a nd an Ethernet cable.

Both of those icons are fairly new. In older versions of Microsoft Windows, this may look more like a couple of monitors. (The color of the screen of those monitors might be green, or black?) Network activity may cause the color of those monitors to highlight (perhaps turning from a dark blue to a brighter green color), and back, resulting in those monitors blinking. The icon of those mintors may be sitting on top of desktop computers (e.g. in Windows XP). (There may be a line, presumably representing a cable, that goes from one monitor to another? There isn't in XP, there might be in older versions?)

Enabling/Disabling the icons

The exact location may vary. Following some some standard locations, but vendor-specific icons could be in yet different places.

Enabling/Disabling connection icons in Windows 7
Control Panel, “Notification Area Icons”, “Turn system icons on or off”, and in the “Network” drop-down box: “On” or “off”.
Enabling/Disabling connection icons in Windows XP

Go to the “Network Connections” screen. Choose the icon related to the desired NIC. Access the shortcut menu for that icon, and choose “Properties” to see the related Properties page (e.g., a screen that might be titled “Local Area Connection Properties”).

Then, on the “Netowrking” tab (which is the default tab), there may be a related checkbox right on that screen. The checkbox is titled “Show icon in notification area when connected”. This checkbox is just above another checkbox named “Notify me when this connection has limited or no connectivity”. Both of these icons are below the “Description area” (which is below the “Install...” and “Uninstall” and “Properties” buttons) that are below the section of checkboxes related to “items” used by the connection.

In comparison, Windows 7 has a very similar tab named “General” (accessible on the Properties page for a network connection), but that tab simply lacks those two checkboxes.

Multiple network management interfaces available

There may be multiple graphical software interfaces that are available for checking, or even changing, the status of a network connection. This was mentioned a bit in the section about network-based tray icons. See also: (Not) Using WZCSVC.

“View Available Networks”

iglvzx's SuperUser.com question on how to “Open the Volume Control popup from the command prompt” discusses not only the sound interface, but the networking interface. It mentions:

RunDLL32 van.dll,RunVAN

MS Forum post suggests using path.

Neither approach seemed to work in Win10.


This may also be discussed by: Microsoft Windows Control Panel Applet for Networking.

Offline Files


(There was an old note here about this being found in Windows Server 2008, not Windows 7. Perhaps that is just referring to a default configuration? Perhaps both exist, or can exist? Some further research/testing/clarification may be nice...)

Parental Controls


This is found in Windows 7, not Windows Server 2008

Password Properties

MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command identifies this as:

control password.cpl

This is not found in Windows 7, nor Windows Server 2008. (It is believed this might have simply been replaced by the ”Users”-related icons.)

PC Card

MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command identifies this as:

control main.cpl pc card (PCMCIA)
Performance Information and Tools


This is found in Windows 7, not Windows Server 2008

Personalization


Phone and Modem

See: Modem control panel applet.

[#pwrcfcpl]: Power Options/Management

MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command identifies this as:

control powercfg.cpl

for Windows 98 (even though Q192806 says it applies to Win95 and NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition and NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition), or

control main.cpl power

for Windows 95. Newer versions of Microsoft Windows also have a PowerCfg command. For related topics, see Electrical Power.

[#prntrcpl]: Printers

If this icon is not found in the icons that start with the letter P (e.g. Windows Server 2008 has an icon called “Printers”), check out the letter D for an icon called “Devices and Printers” (e.g. as found in Windows 7). (If looking for devices other than printers, see the commentary by the “Devices and Printers” icon.)

MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command identifies this as:

control printers

This might be a command line parameter that is directly supported by the program called “control”. This has been confirmed (in Windows 7) to NOT be specifying the filename of a *.cpl file.

There may also be some rather automatable techniques (involving command lines and/or text configuration files, and also involving files for drivers) for installating printer objects.

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe printers ”, documented to display “the Printers and Faxes folder”.

Problem Reports and Solutions

This exists in Windows Server 2008. Some documentation for Windows 7, “What happened to Problem Reports and Solutions?”, states, “Problem Reports and Solutions is now part of Action Center”. In Action Center, see “Change Action Center Settings”, “Problem reporting settings”, or see “View archived messages”.

[#appwizcp]: Programs-related Control Panel icon

This may be started with “ Control AppWiz.cpl ” (or “ Start AppWiz.cpl ”).

In Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, this is called “Programs and Features”. Windows Vista might have named this “Software and Programs”? Win9x called this “Add or Remove Programs”?

control appwiz.cpl

When this starts up, it shows a list of previously-installed applications that should be removable by using this program and selecting the software, and then choosing to Uninstall. To generate that list of programs, the software looks in HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall and checks each registry key (which is a GUID, according to MSDN: “Uninstall Registry Key”). Then appwiz.cpl will display the data related to a value named “DisplayName”. When choosing to uninstall the software, the appwiz.cpl program runs the command shown in a registry value called “Uninstall”, in the same registry key where the “DisplayName” value was found.

Recovery


This is found in Windows 7, not Windows Server 2008

Region(al) and Language (Options/Settings)

Windows 7: Region and Language. Windows Server 2008: Regional and Language Options. Q192806 refers to this as “Regional Settings”.

MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command identifies this as:

control intl.cpl

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe international ” to open the “Regional and Language Options” window.

RemoteApp and Desktop Connections


This is found in Windows 7, not Windows Server 2008

[#sticpl]: Scanners and Cameras

MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command identifies this as:

control sticpl.cpl

MS KB Q192806 furthermore notes, “The Scanners and Cameras applet (sticpl.cpl) cannot be run in Windows Millennium. It has been replaced by the Scanners and Cameras Folder, which is similar in function to folders like Printers and Dial-up Networking.”

In newer versions of Microsoft Windows, this is probably handled by an icon called “Devices and Printers”.

[#mmsndcpl]: Sound

MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command identifies this as:

control mmsys.cpl sounds

In Windows Server 2008, there may not even be a Control Panel icon called “Sound”, but similar settings may be found under “Personalization”, and then “Sounds”.

(Similar/related topic: see also: Speech Control Panel Applet.)

At least in Windows 7, the “Playback” tab has been known to have a context/“shortcut”/“right click” menu with options like “Show Disabled Devices” and “Show Disconnected Devices”. (Those options would show up if the background of the main area was right-clicked. Another menu, with those options and more, would show up if the context/“shortcut”/“right click” menu of one of the devices was shown.)

[#sndvol32 : “Sound Volume” (or “Volume Mixer”)

This can be run from the command line.

sndvol

Or, on some operating systems, this might work better:

sndvol32

This program can often be seen in the system tray. Depending on the operating system, this may look like a speaker (e.g., a yellow speaker, or the white outline of a speaker as seen in Windows 10) or (presumably intending to look like a key part of a speaker, but essentially just looking like) a grey circle.

Whether this shows up in the system tray is an option. Microsoft's Windows XP documentation: “To display the volume control icon in the notification area” describes going to the “Sound” control panel applet and choosing the “Volume” tab. (Then there is a checkbox about whether to show that icon.) The problem is that at least some other versions of Microsoft Windows don't have that tab. On some newer Microsoft Windows versions, you may just need to accept that the software showing that icon may be running. However, the icon can be effectively hidden by going to Taskbar Properties, “Select which icons appear on the taskbar”.

Command line options for the Sound Control program

MSDN documentation on SndVol32.exe specifies some:

Other approaches for changing volume

From the command line:

[#sapicpl]: Speech

In Windows 7, there may be a Control Panel applet called “Speech Recognition”. (It is currently believed/guessed that this might just be called “Speech” in some earlier version(s).) This may be related to SAPI (see text to speech).

Windows 7

The main control panel applet has been brought up using:

control /name Microsoft.SpeechRecognition

In the left frame, there are hyperlinks called “Advanced speech options” and “Text to Speech” (which simply opens the same window but starts with a different tab selected). That same window may be able to be opened with:

control %windir%\System32\speech\SpeechUX\SAPI.cpl

(which has been found even on a 64-bit system)

... or perhaps:

control %windir%\sysWOW64\speech\SpeechUX\SAPI.cpl

For some similar/related (complex technical detailed) information, see also: forum post about adding voices.

Windows Server 2008

The Speech icon found in Windows 7 is not found in the Control Panel of Windows Server 2008

Windows XP

Windows XP: According to MS KB 313808, under “C:\Prgram files\Common files\Microsoft Shared\Speech” there may be a “Sapi.cpl” file.

Sync Center


This is found in Windows 7, not Windows Server 2008

[#systmcpl]: System

On a keyboard that has the “Start” key (often adorned with a drawing of a Microsoft Windows logo), holding the “Start” key and pressing the “Pause”/“Break” key may run this directly.

On newer versions of Microsoft Windows, another way may be to access the context/“shortcut”/“right click” menu of the “(My) Computer” icon (called either “Computer” or “My Computer”, and which may be on the desktop or may be on the Start menu), and choose Properties. (Older versions may result in that procss running Device Manager.)

control sysdm.cpl

Old older versions of Microsoft Windows, such approach(es) may bring up a window called “System Properties”.

Another option, for newer versions of Microsoft Windows, may be to run:

"%windir%\System32\SystemPropertiesAdvanced.exe"

On newer versions of Microsoft Windows, a new control panel applet named “System” has been created. In the left frame of this newer “System” control panel applet, there is a hyperlink called “Advanced System Settings” which brings up the “System Properties”. The new “Systme Control Panel” applet displays information different, and might even have some new information and new hyperlinks to click on. The only real downsides are that with the introduction of the new System control panel applet, there is one extra step needed to get from the Control Panel to the “System Properties” screen, and sometimes that entire “System Properties” screen may be entirely blocked by UAC elevation requirements.

If you want to go from the command line straight to the new System Control Panel applet, the following was verified to work in Windows 10:

control /name Microsoft.System

As introduced in Windows 95 and continuing up through Windows Server 2003 (including Windows XP), this shows a “System Properties” window that has multiple tabs.

In Windows Vista and newer, this brings up an informational screen with hyperlinks. There is also a program called %windir%\System32\SystemPropertiesAdvanced.exe which brings up a window quite similar to what has been found in Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP and older versions of Microsoft Windows. This executable may require UAC permission to be run. A hyperlink, to run this executable file, is included in initial screen shown when going to the “System” icon of the newer versions of Microsoft Windows. Basically, that command just does the equivilent of running:

control sysdm.cpl

... which is a method that also worked in older versions of Microsoft Windows.

The System Properties window

This has several tabs.

Computer Name

Another way to see the name may be to use the systeminfo command. Relevant lines may be Host Name, Domain, and Logon Server. (Side note: System Type will say “x64-based PC” on Windows 7 x64.)

This screen also allows the user to change a system name and/or either the Active Directory domain or the workgroup. This is the most common way that people have joined Active Directory domains using the GUI.

control sysdm.cpl,,1
Hardware
rundll32 shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL sysdm.cpl,,2

This has a button for Device Manager. In Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, there is a button called “Winodws Update Driver Settings”.

Advanced
rundll32 shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL sysdm.cpl,,3
System Protection
rundll32 shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL sysdm.cpl,,4

(According to Windows XP Control Panel, Shortcuts and Control.exe, the tab at index 4 is “System Restore”. In some newer versions of Microsoft Windows, at least by Windows 10, the tab has been renamed to “System Protection”. The tab has a button called “System Restore...”)

[#syprprmt]: Remote

Depending on the operating system, this might be:

Tab 6
rundll32 shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL sysdm.cpl,,6

According to Windows XP Control Panel, Shortcuts and Control.exe, tab 6 is “Remote”. (Tab 5 is “Automatic Updates”.)

Tab 5

In Windows 10, Remote was found to be tab 5.

rundll32 shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL sysdm.cpl,,5

or, if the version of Windows is new enough:

"%windir%\System32\SystemPropertiesRemote.exe"

Or, there are commands to be able to get to the “Remote Assistance” feature ?

See the section on Remote Access (e.g. specifically the section on Remote Desktop. At the time of this writing, this guide might not have a section on “Remote Assistance” yet).

(According to Windows XP Control Panel, Shortcuts and Control.exe, tab 0 is “General”.)

Taskbar and Start Menu


Another way to bring up this interface is to right click on the system's actual Taskbar, and choose Properties on the resulting Shortcut/Context/“Right-click” menu.

Troubleshooting


User-related

This may be called “User Accounts” or “Users”.

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe userpasswords ”, which “launches the User Accounts window”. The web page identifies this as being “For Windows 2000 and later” (although chances seem quite good that might exclude Windows ME, even though Windows ME was released newer than Windows 2000).

MS KB Q192806: How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command provides some commentary on this. Presumably referring to NT4, it states, “To run the Users tool in Control Panel, type control Ncpa.cpl users, and then press ENTER.” Then, Q192806 goes on to state, “To run the Users tool for Windows 95/98/Me, type "control inetcpl.cpl users" (without the quotation marks) and then press ENTER.” (Styling of the quoted material has been altered.)

[#lusrmgr]: Local Users and Groups

There are two variations where “Local Users and Groups” functionality may be found:

  • For the versions of Microsoft Windows that support it, an interface that can basically do the same things, but which has been more consistent over multiple versions of Microsoft Windows, is MMC's “Local Users and Groups”.
  • On supporting operating systems, this “Local Users and Groups” interface is available as part of the “Computer Management” applet.

When someone wishes to work with user accounts, this software component may be one option. The consistent user interface is one benefit to using this option. The bad news is that this approach is not an available option for all versions of Microsoft Windows. For example, running “MMC lusrmgr.msc” may show a screen that says “This computer is running Windows 7 Home Premium. This snapin may not be used with this version of Windows.” So, the availability of this option may vary based on what operating systems are being used. This may be considered to be a feature of the “Professional” variants.

Another command (which can be run from the command line) may be to use netplwiz, which brings up “User Accounts”, and go to the “Advanced” tab. Then, in the “Advanced user management” section, choose “Advanced”.

Command line options are also available (using the NET command). For details related to handling users, see Users: Basic operations.

Windows Anytime Upgrade

This may be seen in Windows 7 Home Premium.


Windows CardSpace


Windows Defender

This may be described further by: Windows Defender, MSE, and more.

Windows Firewall
control firewall.cpl

This was part of the “Springboard” technologies added in Windows XP Service Pack 2. Windows Firewall may be discussed further at: Microsoft Windows Firewall.

See also:

mmc wf.msc

To interact with this from the command line:

netsh

(e.g., MS KB 947709: How to use the "netsh advfirewall firewall" context instead of the "netsh firewall" context to control Windows Firewall behavior in Windows Server 2008 and in Windows Vista provides several examples. That KB article also does “Note” “The netsh firewall command line is not recommended for use in Windows Vista.”)

Windows Live Language Setting


Windows Mobility Center


Windows Update

In at least some version of Win9x, this was implemented as an executable which might have done little more than just direct users to a website.


Third party software

This may have seemed like a nice concept, to have settings all placed in the centralized location known as the Control Panel. However, especially with the new “Category View” of Control Panel, having program-related settings found from within the program, or via the Start Menu, seems to be generally preferable. (This claim of what would be “generally preferable” may simply be a personal opinion, rather than any sort of researched/surveyed/polled fact based on popular opinion.)

Icons known to exist have included:

  • Icons related to various Adobe software?
  • “Flash Player (32-bit)” (found on an X64 system)
  • “Java (32-bit)” (found on an X64 system)
  • An icon related to QuickTime
  • Realtek HD Audio Manager
[#mmc]: Microsoft Management Console (MMC)

The MMC consoles can be accessed directly from the MMC program, as “Snap-Ins”. Many are also embedded in other programs, such as “Computer Management” or “Server Manager”, and may be available directly on the Administrative Tools folder. A very common feature of an MMC Snap-in is support for managing a remote comuter.

[#wnadmtls]: Administrative Tools

Some versions of Microsoft Windows (Windows 2003 and newer, including Vista and newer; it is believed this is also with Windows XP Professional, and maybe more?) come with a “Control Panel” applet called “Administrative Tools”, which contain several other applets. Very often, the Start Menu is configured to have a hyperlink that goes straight to the “Administrative Tools” icon.

In Windows 7, this is basically just an elaborate hyperlink to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Administrative Tools (where C:\ProgramData is probably either %ProgramData% or %ALLUSERSPROFILE%.) In Control Panel, using the “Open in a new window” may create a window with a title like “Control Panel\All Contorl Panel Items\Administrative Tools” which is simply showing the contents of that directory.

[#wncmpmgt]: “Computer Management”, and the quite similar “Server Manager”

On consumer versions of Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, 7) and Windows Server 2003, the %SystemRoot%\system32\CompMgmtLauncher.exe program will launch this “Computer Management” program. However, in Windows Server 2008, this same executable ends up running “Server Manager” instead.

Very often, the fastest, most convenient way to run that eecutable is to access the Shortcut/Context/“Right-click” menu of the icon called “My Computer” or “Computer” on the Start Menu and/or the Desktop, and then choose “Manage”. Again, though, it is worth mentioning that running that executable does different things depending on what operating system is being used. The executable runs either Computer Management or Server Manager.

TechNet: Page about “Server Manager” discusses “Server Manager” and some other interfaces that are often used for early configuration of a system. The page provides descriptions for Roles in Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and also Features in Microsoft Windows Server 2008.

Computer Management

In Windows Server 2008, this softare's Start Menu icon runs:

%SystemRoot%\system32\compmgmt.msc /s

The above command is what gets run by by optionally going to Control Panel, going to Administrative Tools, and using the “Event Viewer” icon, (at least in Windows 7). A fuller version of a supported syntax could be:

%windir%\system32\compmgmt.msc /computer=localhost

By default, in Windows Server 2008 it has the following:

“System Tools” section of Computer Management
Task Scheduler (in Computer Management)

In Windows Server 2008, this is also in “Server Manager”, under “Configuration”. See: Task Scheduler (Microsoft Management Console version) or Microsoft Task Scheduler.

MSDN: “Executing Control Panel Items”, section called “Legacy Control Panel Commands” mentions says some “commands predate Windows Vista” and documents them, indicating they still work. One of those is “ control.exe schedtasks ”, which “Displays the Scheduled Tasks folder.” The web page identifies this as being “For Windows 2000 and later” (although chances seem quite good that might exclude Windows ME, even though Windows ME was released newer than Windows 2000).

[#evtvwncm]: Event Viewer (in Computer Management)

This is also in “Server Manager”, under “Diagnostics”

This Event Viewer, in Computer Management, provides similar functionality to the “Event Viewer” in MMC, which can be started directly from the command line.

Some further/related information which was located here has been moved to the section on Event Viewer (in MSC format), and/or hyperlinks provided in that section. (Particularly the sub-section called “Viewing Events”.)

Shared Folders

This is the one icon that is included by default in the “Computer Management” program but which, by default, does not have an equivilent icon in the “Server Manager” program. However, an icon offering some of the same functionality may be added to Server Manager by installing a Role in a Windows Server operating system: specifically the role called “File Services”, and particularly the “File Server” Role service. Then the “Server Manager” will have an entry uner “Roles”.

Equivilent functionality may often be performed by running “ Net Use ”. (Run “ Net Use /? ”.) Using “ Net Session ” can do some other things that this GUI permits. (Run “ Net Session /? ”.) For more details, see: sharing with SMB.

This graphical interface can also be started using MMC fsmgmt.msc ”.

Local Users and Groups

In Windows Server 2008, this is also in “Server Manager”, under “Configuration”

More information about handling user accounts is in the section about Users.

Reliability and Performance

In Windows Server 2008, this is also in “Server Manager”, under “Diagnostics”

Device Manager

In Windows Server 2008, this is also in “Server Manager”, under “Diagnostics” There is also a section about Device Manager (with more details about this component).

“Storage” section

This has just one icon, “Disk Management”. As a comparison, “Server Manager” also has a “Storage” section which also contains the “Disk Management” icon (and more).

Services and Applications

This has two sections to start with: “Services” and “WMI Control”. As a comparison, “Server Manager” also has both of these icons in a section called “Configuration”.

After installing RRAS, an icon called “Routing and Remote Access” may show up in this section. (This does not show up in “Server Manager”, despite the “Server Manager” having a “Roles” feature that may list a different role, such as Microsoft Hyper-V Server.)

[#wnsvrmgr]: Server Manager

The Server Manager and Computer Management icons have quite a bit of similarity. See the more general Windows Computer Management and Server Manager section for more details, including a broader overview such as a way to access this program using a GUI interface. Even the section about Computer Management discusses Server Manager. This section is largely just covering specifics that are different from the “Computer Management” program.

This generally consists of most of the same MMC snap-ins as “Computer Management”, although the icons may be located in different sections. Notably, at least in Windows Server 2008 (verified with 2008 non-R2, SP1), this does not include the “Shared Folders” icon. This also has additional icons, such as dealing with Roles. (e.g.: see installing a Role in a Windows Server operating system.)

Actually, the fastest/easiest way may be to just close the “Initial Configuration Tasks” window. If the “Initial Configuration Tasks” window became visible upon logging in, then OOBE.exe (“Out-of-the-box experience”) will likely start up “Server Manager” as soon as the “Initial Configuration Tasks” window is closed.

The Start Menu has a hyperlink (verified in MS Win Svr 2008) which runs %SystemRoot%\system32\CompMgmtLauncher.exe. Although the executable's name would suggest that Computer Management is installed, the file that actually seems to be used is the %SystemRoot%\System32\ServerManager.msc file.

Component Services
%windir%\system32\comexp.msc
Data Sources (ODBC)
%windir%\system32\obdcad32.exe
[#eventvwr]/[#evtvwmsc]: Event Viewer (in MSC format)
%windir%\system32\eventvwr.msc /s

There are various ways to start the Event Viewer:

Ways to start EventVwr
  • When running the program by optionally going to Control Panel, going to Administrative Tools, and using the “Event Viewer” icon, (at least in Windows 7) using that icon will cause Explorer to run this:

    %windir%\system32\eventvwr.msc /s
    • At the time of this writing, the purpose of the /s parameter is not clear. What is clear is simply that this parameter is specified in the command line that gets run by the icon in the Administrative Tools folder.

    If you wish to connect to a remote system, Peter's answer to his own SuperUser.com question about connecting to another computer indicates this is supported by Windows XP and Windows Server 2003:

    %windir%\system32\eventvwr.msc /computer=localhost

    This functionality seems to have been removed by Windows 7 (despite similar functionality remaining for at least compmgmt.msc (which can use Event Viewer code) and services.msc). Fortunately, newer operating systems have a different solution using eventvwr.exe (which is about to be discussed).

  • In some versions of Microsoft Windows, including Windows 7, there is an eventvwr.exe.
    • This takes an optional parameter of a system name, so you could run: “ EventVwr localhost ”.
    • The syntax supporting a remote filename is shown when running: “ eventvwr/?
      • (In Powershell, a space is requried between the executable and the slash, so the syntax for help would be: eventvwr/?.)

    This approach may be the recommendable due to the convenient option to specify the remote system.

  • Event Viewer is also built into Computer Management's Event Viewer (from computer management).
    • Versions of the Microsoft Windows Server operating system may also have a program called Server Manager, and that may also contain Event Viewer. This is mentioned more in the section on Event Viewer (from computer management).

Here's some tidbits about viewing event logs. (This may assist whether using “ MMC %windir%\system32\eventvwr.msc ”, or the functionality from within Computer Management.)

Viewing Events

Further details about events: Windows Event Log discusses the event logs in more detail. (Some information which was in this section has been moved to that section.) Windows Event Messages has details about specific events.

There are other ways to access the Windows Event Logs, including by using the NTEVENT object in WMI. Further details are available at: Viewing event logs in Microsoft Windows.

Now, more details about using this software when it isn't simply embedded within Computer Management:

[...]

Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 Manager

This has been seen on a Windows Server 2016 system.

Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager

This has been seen on a Windows Server 2016 system.

iSCSI Initiator
%windir%\system32\iscsicpl.exe
[#perfmon]: Performance Monitor

%windir%\system32\perfmon.msc /s

%windir%\system32\perfmon.exe

[#resmon]: Resource Monitor
Starting Resource Monitor

Wikipedia's article on “Resource Monitor”, section called “Access to Application” provides multiple ways to start the program, including at least some of the following:

%windir%\system32\perfmon.exe /res

or...

%windir%\system32\resmon.exe

It may also be on the Start menu.

Another way may be to go to Task Manager, and then “Performance” tab, then “Resource Monitor...”.

Wikipedia's article on “Resource Monitor” has the interesting statement, “The Vista and later Resource Monitor heavily leverages the Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) facilities introduced in Windows 7”. Since Windows Vista was the consumer-level version of Microsoft Windows released just before Windows 7, how did Vista use something introduced by Windows 7? That might not be quite as ironic/oxymoronic as it sounds: it could be that Resource Monitor in Vista used the “Event Transing for Windows” facilities before those facilities were more widely introduced for many other people to start utilizing in other ways.

[#srvcsmsc]: Services

%windir%\system32\services.msc

The above command is what gets run by by optionally going to Control Panel, going to Administrative Tools, and using the “Event Viewer” icon, (at least in Windows 7). A fuller version of a supported syntax could be:

%windir%\system32\services.msc /computer=localhost

The section on currently running software has details about services. For example, Getting the service names discusses how to identify which “short name” is related to a description. adjusting running software for information about services (including how to make similar changes using another interface). (That includes references to using the SC.EXE program.)

MS KB 137890: How To Create a User-Defined Service which shows how to create a service using Srvany.exe. The KB article also discusses how to specify an executable file that gets run when that service starts, which involves HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\ (and then a key that is named after the service that got created in the earlier step).

Services may be able to combine into one process in order to reduce the number of resources. Controlling what services are part of the same process is probably covered by CPU usage of SVCHOST.EXE.

[#admtsycf]: System Configuration
%windir%\system32\msconfig.exe existed for Win9x, and now makes an appearance in the Administrative Tools folder (as witnessed in Windows 7 Home Premium). For details on this software, see MSConfig.
[#mstsksch]: Task Scheduler (Microsoft Management Console version)

%windir%\system32\taskschd.msc /s

... is the command that is run by the built-in Task Scheduler.lnk file, which is located at

%USERPROFILE%\..\All Users\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\System Tools\ (or some location that seems to be equivilent to that).

Note that the taskschd.msc file does not exist in all versions of Microsoft Windows. See also: Microsoft Task Scheduler.

Windows Firewall with Advanced Security
%windir%\system32\WF.msc

This is an interface for making some further adjustments to the Windows Firewall software. Operating Systems that have this “Windows Firewall with Advanced Security” also have a Control Panel applet called “Windows Firewall” which has more limits than this “Windows Firewall with Advanced Security” applet. For more details on this software, see Microsoft Windows Firewall.

desktop.ini

If the system provides an actual filesystem “directory” (also known as a “folder”) that is used to store files related to the “Control Panel” icons, then this file may show up in the list of files in that folder.

[#mdsched]: Windows Memory Diagnostic (Scheduler)

Shortcut's comment: “Check your computer for memory problems.”

%windir%\system32\MdSched.exe

Actually, this program doens't immediately test memory. It offers to either restart the computer right away, or to simply scheduile a memory check to occur the next time the system is started. So don't think that this memory test operates while the system is still running. For more details about options related to checking RAM, see: hardware testing (especially warning about hardware damage, and then RAM testing or, perhaps even better, testing multiple components. There is now a specific section on Windows Memory Diagnostic/Tester (Tools).)

(PowerShell?)

As found in Windows 7, this runs:

%SystemRoot%\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -NoExit -ImportSystemModules

The shortcut's comment says “Performs object-based (command-line) functions”.

[#wnregsry]: Windows Registry

This is largely a collection of settings which became quite famous with the release of Windows 95. See: Handling the Windows Registry. (Actually, there was also a registry with an earlier version (3.1, or 3.11?), but the registry was not used so extensively until Windows 95.)

[#msconfig]: MSConfig

MS KB Q181966: “System Configuration Utility Advanced Troubleshooting Settings” seems to be calling this by the name of “System Configuration Utility”. This was part of Win9x, and more recently shows up, named as “System Configuration”, in the Administrative Tools collection of software.

[#wnsecpol]: Policy
Local Policy

This might be referred to as “Local System Policy” (or “Local User Policy”).

MS KB 307882 inciates that local policy can be accessed from the Group Policy editor by looking under “Local Computer Policy”, then “Computer Configuration”, then “Windows Settings”.

Perhaps: SecPol.MSC? Although, maybe only in the Pro versions of an OS? Tom's IT Pro: SecPol notes, “Microsoft supplies a Local Policy Editor so that you can change security settings without resorting to regedit.” It does seem likely that registry entires might be able to do many of the same tasks. WindowsNetworking article on group policy settings seems to also back that up: a location for settings is “under Computer Configuration|Policies and one is under User Configuration|Policies. Every policy setting under these nodes in the GPO editor represent a Registry modification.”

Maybe related to: SecEdit (mentioned by Blog about using LocalGPO)

Local Group Policy
Blog about using LocalGPO, Local Group Policy
Group Policy

Group Policy is basically a mechanish for having a computer download a bunch of “Local System Policy” settings from a centralized source. This may be a feature of some “Professional” variations of Microsoft Windows operating systems, and less likely to be supported by “Home” versions of Microsoft Windows.

A lot of people seem to be impressed with the capabilities that are available through “Group Policy”. Well, before getting too excited, realize that many of those same settings may also be available though Local Policy, which may be even more widely available. So, those capabilities are not unique to “Group Policy”. Sometimes it seems that “Group Policy” gets credit for providing a technical way to specify the desired behavior a system. Actually, Local Policy may provide the same ability to specify the same desired behavior. All “Group Policy” really is, is a way for people to have those settings be described by a centralized source, and to have compliant machines download those settings from the centralized source. That can be quite convenient, but often times “Group Policy” gets credit for a lot of features that don't require group policy at all. That might be because “Group Policy” is often used by Microsoft when demonstrating a way to implement an interesting feature.

(Currently unverified information)

Settings may be changed with:

gpedit.msc

or...

gpmc.msc

According to Wikipedia's article on “Windows Registry”: “Group Policy” section, gpmc.msc is “multiple users and/or computers in a” Windows Server domain.

gpresult shows “Resulting Set of Policy” (“RSoP”), which is the active policies after multiple policies may overlap. gpupdate updates policies.

TechNet: Some seemingly overlapping policies

See also: system policies.

TweakUI

Some versions of this program have been known to provide options that could cause some problems.

Accessories
Locations

In many versions of Windows, including Windows 3.1, the folder was known as “Accessories”. In Windows 10, this may be found on the start menu as a folder named “Windows Accessories”.

These may be found in “ %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories ” or “ %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories ” (or perhaps some other enviornment variables). <1-- Those were the locations seen on Windows 7 64-bit edition; specifically the actual directories were C:\ProgramData\ (which also might have been %ALLUSERSPROFILE%) and C:\Users\User\AppData\Roaming\ (also %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\ ) -->

In Windows 10, the Start Menu tended to call the last folder “Winodws Accessories”, and that is even how Windows Explorer showed the folder name (including in the path shown near the top of the window). However, clicking the path bar would show the actual full path, which ended with a directory simply named Accessories (not Windows Accessories).

There may be some variations, including icons being available in different locations on different operating systems.

 

Calculator
Calc
Historical issues

This has been known to be buggy. MS KB 72540 documented how simple subtraction of 12.52 minus 12.51 might equal various things, including “0.00” as one of the possible answers. MS KB Q124345 (Archived by the Wayback Machine @ Archive.org) documented some of this. “ versions of Calculator display simple subtraction errors when you subtract two numbers that include values to the right of the decimal point. While Calculator is determining how to display the solution, it encounters a loss of precision and shows an incorrect answer.” A discussed example is an issue calculating “[(1/3 + 10 - 10) x 3]”. “The value 0.9999 is generated because significant digits are lost by adding and subtracting 10.” More recently, Forum post notes that after using the “Square root” button, the result displays like an integer, but the value used by Calc is different than what is displayed. Subtracting an integer that should yield zero will actually display something very close to zero (which is big long text, rendered in “scientific notation”).

Alternatives
Command Prompt
CMD.EXE

or

Command.com

or perhaps something more specific like the following, seen in Win 7 64-bit....

%windir%\system32\cmd.exe

(For now, alternatives include PowerShell and others listed in the section about PowerShell.)

[#dsplswch]: Connect to a Projector

This might be related to DisplaySwitch. (See: Using multiple video displays, which also mentions netproj.)

Desktop.ini

Ease of Access (Folder)

This folder may have contained shortcuts (icons) for the following:

Ease of Access Center

Runs the “Ease of Access Center” control panel applet (as seen in Windows 7 64-bit). Specifically, in Windows 7 (64-bit), the command that was started was:

%windir%\system32\control.exe /name Microsoft.EaseOfAccessCenter

This applet is described further in: Accessibility (Control Panet Applet).

Magnifier

This may be started with:

%windir%\system32\magnify.exe

(as witnessed in Windows 7 (64-bit))

Math Input Panel

This may be started with:

"%CommonProgramFiles%\Microsoft Shared\Ink\mip.exe"

(Seen in Windows 10 Home.)

Narrator

This may be started with:

%windir%\system32\narrator.exe

(as witnessed in Windows 7 (64-bit))

This type of software may be discussed further at: text-to-speech. (At the time of this writing, that section might not be very heavily developed.)

On-screen Keyboard

This may be started with:

%windir%\system32\osk.exe

(as witnessed in Windows 7 (64-bit))

Windows Speech Recognition

Runs the “Ease of Access Center” control panel applet (as seen in Windows 7 64-bit). Specifically, in Windows 7 (64-bit), the command that was started was:

%windir%\Speech\Common\sapiscr.exe -SpeechUX

This type of software may be discussed further at: speech. (At the time of this writing, that section might not be very heavily developed.)

Getting Started

The term “OOBE” stands for “Out of [the] box experience”.

In Windows 7, the default shortcut may point to:

%windir%\system32\rundll32.exe %SystemRoot%\system32\OobeFldr.dll,ShowWelcomeCenter LaunchedBy_StartMenuShortcut

In Windows 10, this was found:

%windir%\system32\oobe\msoobe.exe
Math Input Panel

Notepad
Notepad

A piece of software that has been around for a long time. Further details are available at: ][CybarPillar][ section about Microsoft Notepad. Other software may be bundled in with Microsoft Windows, like Microsoft Write (or “WordPad”). Other text editors for Microsoft Windows exist, and can be downloaded. (See: choosing a text editor.)

Paint
mspaint

The program has been known as Microsoft Paint, and Paintbrush. Eventually, newer versions of the program have simply gone by the name “Paint”, as shown in the title bar. However, the filename of the executable program, which can be run from the command line, is still mspaint.

The best thing that can be said about this program is that it is often readily available. Some alternatives may be found at: image-editing software.

Remote Desktop Connection
mstsc

Further details about connecting remotely, using the protocol this software was designed for, is discussed in the section about RDC (a.k.a. “RDP”). Details about this software, specifically, are found within the subsection for RDC client software.

Run

(Target Type: Run)

[#snipngtl]: Snipping Tool
%windir%\SYSTEM32\SnippingTool.Exe

Windows 7 has the Snipping Tool that lets a user draw a rectangular area to copy. This may be a bit more convenient than capturing an entire screen (which can be done by using Print Screen, and then pasting from the clipboard) or a window (which can be done by using Alt+Print Screen, and then pasting from the clipboard). After the user selects a rectangular area to copy, the Snipping Tool program will then show the captured image, and can easily copy it to the clipboard.

Sticky Notes
%windir%\system32\StikyNot.exe

Sound Recorder

Steps Recorder
%windir%\system32\psr.exe

Seen in the Start Menu of Windows 10. (First included in Windows 7?)

The “P” stands for “Problem”. (This software is discussed further by: Easier Troubleshooting Support with Problem Step Recorder, and/or MSDN Blog by Pat Altimore: Using the “secret” Windows 7 Problem Steps Recorder to Create Step by Step Screenshot Documents.)

Sync Center

System Tools
Character Map
charmap.exe

(My) Computer
Explorer ,

The name of this icon has changed. In Windows 95, it was called “My Computer”. Later versions of Microsoft Windows may have just called it “Computer”. In Windows 10, this icon didn't exist on the desktop or the start menu, but was renamed to “This PC” and showed up in the side bar of a window of the program called File Explorer (which has been known as “Windows Explorer” in prior versions of Microsoft Windows).

From a command prompt, this can be reached by running “ Explorer , ”. That is, starting with the word “Explorer”, and then including a space, and then typing a comma (and then pressing Enter).

This shows a list of drives that are not hidden. You can visit the “Folder Options” window, “View” tab, and ensure the option is unchecked for “Hide empty drives”. This guide recommends unchecking that box. Although that box sounds like it might be a good idea, simply to have an unused drive not distract a user who might be looking for some data to open, there's a quite compelling case why it can be awful: if a person inserts a USB memory stick with zero files, that memory stick might simply not show up just because of that checkbox.

Control Panel
control

or alternatives: see: running code related to Control Panel icons, part of the broader Microsoft Windows Control Panel program.

Desktop.ini

[#cleanmgr]: Disk Cleanup
cleanmgr

For other discussion related to disk space, see: handling low disk space. Some information, which used to be here, has been moved to the section on fixing the problem of low disk space.

Disk Defragmenter

The command for this likely varies between Windows versions. On Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit, the command line for this icon was:

%windir%\system32\dfrgui.exe

Discussed further at: optimizing disk volumes.

Internet Explorer (No Add-ons)

This may run something similar to:

"%ProgramFiles%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe" -extoff

(except that instead of the variable name, this icon may default to showing the entire folder name, e.g. in C:\Program Files\).

Private Character Editor
%windir%\system32\eudcedit.exe

Resource Monitor

The icon may run (by default, as shown on a Windows 7 64-bit system),

%windir%\system32\perfmon.exe /res

There may be other ways to start this program, including:

%windir%\system32\resmon.exe

For further ways to start this program, and/or other details about this program, see: Resource Monitor.

System Information
msinfo32

Detecting hardware has a section of “System Information”.

System Restore
%systemroot%\system32\rstrui.exe

Task Scheduler
%windir%\system32\taskschd.msc /s

In Windows 7 64-bit, this icon ran:

%windir%\system32\taskschd.msc /s

Windows Easy Transfer
Windows Easy Transfer Reports
%windir%\system32\migwiz\postmig.exe

Migration Wizard

Windows Easy Transfer
%windir%\system32\migwiz\migwiz.exe

Migration Wizard

Tablet PC

(folder)

Windows Journal
"%ProgramFiles%\Windows Journal\Journal.exe"
[#wnflexpl]: Windows Explorer
explorer

Depending on the version of Microsoft Windows, this might be called “Windows Explorer”, “Explorer”, or “File Explorer”. The graphical file manager was called “File Manager” in Windows 3.1. (Some MS-DOS versions had a TUI manager called DOSShell.)

Wikipedia's article for “File Explorer”, section called “Windows 98 and Windows Desktop Update” says, “With the release of the Windows Desktop Update (packaged with Internet Explorer 4.0 as an optional component, and included in Windows 98), Windows Explorer became "integrated" with Internet Explorer,” although that was removed for Internet Explorer 7 (with Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008, especially with Windows Server Core 2008). Microsoft Help 928675: Separation of Internet Explorer 7 from the Windows shell mentions “that several customer scenarios have been adversely affected by the decision to force browsing into a separate process.”

[#mswnmdpl]: Windows Media Player
MPlayer

or

MPlayer2

(One or both of those may be available, depending on what is installed. This may be largely impacted by what version of Microsoft Windows is installed.)

or

dvdplay

Some older information (about older versions of this program) may be discussed further at: TOOGAM's software archive: Microsoft WiMP.

Other software

Note: This software is different than “Media Player Classic”. (Details on that software may be found at: TOOGAM's software archive: Media Player Classic.) Another great alternative is VLC Player. That, and other alternatives (including MPlayer, QuickTime, and others) are mentioned in TOOGAM's software archive: Video Players.

Windows Mobility Center

Windows PowerShell

(folder)

Options include PowerShell, or PowerShell ISE. (PowerShell is mentioned elsewhere on this page.)

Alternatives include: CMD, possibly Command.com (depending on which Windows was installed, and notably not including 64-bit versions), various other programs which are basically just PowerShell with certain extensions (e.g., “Microsoft Exchange Shell”), Pash/“Monad Shell”, and TOOGAM's Software Archive: TCC/LE (and other JP Software products listed nearby), and TOOGAM's Software Archive: winsh (providing ports of multiple shells).

For users of Windows 10 Anniversary Update (Windows 10 Version 1607, shown by WinVer), there is also the “Windows Subsystem for Linux (Beta)” which does include bash, and which does allow changing the filesystem (but not running code designed for Microsoft Windows).

Of course, there are other ways to run programs, including the Run box, or from a menu from Task Manager.

[#mswrtwdp]: Write/Wordpad
write.exe

e.g.: in Windows 7 64-bit,

"%windir%\system32\write.exe"

appeared to just be a wrapper that ran:

"%ProgramFiles%\Windows NT\Accessories\wordpad.exe"

In general, specifying the path will be unnecessary, because the program will often be in a default path. So, you can simply run:

wordpad.exe

(Simply typing write (without the “.exe portion) is discouraged for anyone who may migrate to using PowerShell. Such a habit may lead to things not working as expected in PowerShell thanks to PowerShell having a command called Write-Output which can successfully be abbreviated as write.)

Many people may be unaware that Microsoft has released the souce code for this software. (See the section about this software for more details.)

Further discussion about this software is at: ][CybarPillar][ section about Microsoft Write/Wordpad. (For example, there is information on the source code, and on ][CybarPillar][ section about Microsoft Write/Wordpad: sub-section on Wordpad's text selection/copying bug.)

XPS Viewer
%systemroot%\system32\xpsrchvw.exe

(Seen in Windows 10)

File, Open shows a default filespec/type of “XPS Documents (*.xps; *.oxps)”

Of these, some have been around longer than others. For instance, some that have been around for quite a while include: CharMap, Notepad, Write / Wordpad, Paint, Sound Recorder

Also: Media Player in 3.1?

Useful Tools

These may come bundled with multiple versions of the operating system, and can be quite useful, but might commonly not be found on the default Start Menu.

[#wntskmgr]: Task Manager

taskmgr can be run:

  • from the command line. (The name of the command to run is “taskmgr”.)
  • by pressing Alt-Ctrl-Delete (which simply runs the Task Manager in older versions of Microsoft Windows; in newer versions the user may get a small selection of options. Pressing Alt-T on that screen may bring up the task manager)
  • by pressing Shift-Ctrl-Esc (verified to work in Win7 64-bit) ; on supported operating systems, this is likely to be a slicker method than the previously described method. (This might be a bit easier to remember if you're already familiar with Ctrl-Esc being used to pull up the Start menu.)
  • Accessing the context/“shortcut”/“right click” menu of the Task Bar (and choosing “Start Task Manager”).

Process Hacker and Process Explorer may be superior options, although they also may need to be obtained separate from the operating system. In particular, these options may have provided more abilities that the Task Manager built into Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Process Explorer was made by Winternals (Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell), later known as Sysinternals and bought out by Microsoft. Task Manager had some more options with Windows Vista (and newer).

If people are interested in using the command line, there are options to see information that people often check Task Manager for. For instance, the section about currently running software discusses seeing what software exists, and changing that.

TechNet: Task Manager

[#wntaskbar]: Task Bar (in Microsoft Windows)

This contains:

Start Button

The “Start Button” was massively hyped as a prominent feature of Microsoft Windows 95. Pressing this button would open up the Start menu (which could also be opened by pressing Ctrl-Esc). Other operating systems have come with similar abilities to launch programs, but Microsoft's “Start menu” became a very well-known implementation. People did seem to like it.

Despite that, Microsoft did not include a “Start button”, nor its associated “Start menu”, in Windows 8. Such features existed in Windows 7, and people clearly voiced a preference to having such featuers. With Windows 8.1, Microsoft re-provided a “Start button”, but that button still did not provide a familiar “Start menu”.

People who found themselves forced to use Microsoft Windows 8 would often desure having the start menu be readily available. Wikipedia's “Comparison of Start menu replacements for Windows 8” mentions several options, including “Classic Shell” which used an open source license for version 3.6.8 and earlier versions, but became “Proprietary Freeware” after that. (The quoted text is from the cited Wikipedia page.) The home page for newer versions is ClassicShell.net which still links to the SourceForge site. Classic Shell project page at SourceForge still provided a hyperlink to version 3.6.8.

Another alternative with provided source code is power8.

In Windows 95, the context/“shortcut”/“right click” menu could be used to close the start button. To do this, a person could press Ctrl-Esc (to make the Start Menu active), then press Esc (to hide the Start Menu, but the Start Button remained the active program), then press Shift-F10 (to access the context/“shortcut”/“right click” menu), and then choose “close”.

(Running tasks)

In Windows 7 (and perhaps Vista?), tasks could be pinned to the task bar. (Tasks that showed up on the Start menu could also be pinned to a special spot on the Start menu. But pinning to the Task bar was also possible.) To do this, start the program. Then access the context/“shortcut”/“right click” menu of the icon on the task bar.

System Tray/“Mesasge Notification Area”

Running programs could have icons. A seperate section has been made to discuss this further: see: System Tray/“Mesasge Notification Area”.

Clock (in the task bar)

In Windows 7, this could be removed from the task bar. See: Control Panel, Notification Area Icons. This showed the “Customize Notification Area” subscreen. Below the list of icons, a hyperlink says “Turn system icons on or off”. The “Clock” icon shows up in that list.

Users of Unix may find that IceWM provides a lot of similar functionality. IceWM may require configuring a text file to add programs, but then the experience of using the software is quite similar to the task bar from Windows 95 through Windows 7.

If the task bar crashed, then re-running Explorer would often start it up again. Explorer may need to be run from the main Windows directory, as noted by SuperUser: Launching process from CLI vs. from Task Manager: “r-”'s answer.

Windows Script Host

Windows Script Host may also be known by some other names, like Windows Scripting Host or WSH. Windows Script Host comes bundled with some operating systems (at least Windows XP and newer), and was downloadable for some older operating systems. Windows Scripting Host allows a person to run interpreted code that is written in a supported programming language. Multiple programming languages could be supported, and both JScript (which is Microsoft's variation of JavaScript) and VBScript were supported by default. For further details, see the section on Windows Script Host, or nearby sections that discuss the individual programming languages.

Windows Management Instrumentation (“WMI”) for Microsoft Windows

This was an add-on for older operating systems, and may have been rather limited in those older operating systems, but has been known to be quite useful by the time of Windows XP or later. See: “Common Information Model”, section on “Windows Management Instrumentation (“WMI”) for Microsoft Windows” for details on how to use this.

The WMIC program, which is bundled with newer operating systems, can be used to gather a lot of information about a system simply by running a command on the command line. (The WMIC is not necessarily view-only, as demonstrated by the section on currently running software: subsection about “adjusting what is running”, where WMI examples are shown. However, information gathering is mentioned simply because it is one example of a task that WMIC can be very useful for.)

Pre-provided Desktop Icons
“My Computer”

Basically, this ends up having Explorer show the drives available. This includes hard drives, and network drives (using SMB). In at least some versions of Microsoft Windows, this might also show printers?

On supporting operating systems (including Windows XP Pro), Accessing the “context-sensitive menu”/“context menu”/“shortcut menu”/“alternate menu”/“secondary menu”/“right-click menu” of this icon will have a “Manage” option. This will open up “Computer Management” or the quite similar “Server Manager”.

In Windows XP, this was called “My Computer”. In some later version (Vista? 7?), this could be found on the Start Menu under the name “Computer”. In Windows 10, there is no desktop icon for this, although similar functionality can be found from File Explorer, in the left frame, in an icon called “This PC”. Microsoft Support, Instant Answers, “My Computer is now This PC”

This may be run by:

Explorer ,

(The parameter there is a comma.)

Geoff Chappel's page on the Explorer command line discusses this command line further.

Another method:

start shell:MyComputerFolder
Recycle Bin

start shell:RecycleBinFolder

or

start ::{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}
Emptying the recycle bin
Using cleanmgr

This can likely be done using cleanmgr and the registry. Some directions, which do involve using the GUI, can be found at TechNet: Use Some (Relatively) Unknown Command-Line Switches for Disk Cleanup.

For instance, cleanmgr /dc will operate on the C:. (There is no space between the /d and the drive letter, nor is there a colon after the drive letter.)

Perhaps see also: ss64.com : cleanmgr?

Oz Edri's to a StackOverflow.com question, “how to empty recyclebin through command prompt?”

desktop.ini

This is typically on the desktop, although may often be hidden. See: %USERPROFILE%\desktop.ini

C:\> dir %USERPROFILE%\desktop.ini
A  SH        C:\[...]\Desktop\desktop.ini

C:\>

The file may have the Hidden and System filesystem attributes.

Other/Misc

This is not necessarily meant to be an all-inclusive list of other software. This simply lists some that may not have (yet) found a nicely matching home in one of the earlier sections. That may be due to the software providing a rather different purpose and not being bundled in with software bundles like the Computer Management application, while other software might be added to this section simply because the software was added to this page somewhat recently.

Optical disc writing

Explorer may have an ability to do this, but since Microsoft Windows 7 Beta 1, newer versions of Microsoft Windows do come with an ISOBurn.exe which may be the most convenient way to write a pre-existing disk image. This, and other details, are mentioned in the section about “disk images” sub-section about writing to optical discs in Microsoft Windows. Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 probably did not have ISOBurn.exe, but a couple of programs were included in Microsoft's downloadable Resource Kit Tools for Windows XP and Window server 2003 (32-bit). (More specifically, the web page's “System Requirements” section says “The Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools are not supported on 64-bit platforms.”) Those couple of programs were named cdburn and dvdburn.

Fax

Some software for handling faxes may come with the operating system. The Win98 CD had an “American” version at \Tools\OldWin95\Message\US\AWFax.exe and an “International” version at \Tools\OldWin95\Message\Intl\AWFax.exe (some of which was described by MS KB 235713: (Un)installing Microsoft Fax and Windows Messaging). For some other versions (Windows 95, according to MS KB 235713; and Win XP, according to MS KB Q306550), the software was available by going to the Add/Remove Programs, and adding the fax feature as a Windows component.

In Windows 10, the “Windows Accessories” folder had “Windows Fax and Scan” (“ %windir%\system32\WFS.exe ”).

web software
Mail client
Mail
(Similar content may be discussed at: mail user agent.)
Video editing
Movie Maker
Security
User account control
This is already described by another section. See: user basic operations: user account control.
Open File - Security Warning

e.g.: IntellAdmin guide shows a picture, and acknowledges the annoyance that a user may need to deal with this dialog box and then also deal with a dialog box from UAC. That's two dialog boxes which are essentially asking the same question (does the user want to continue to run the file) for the same task (running the file, even a single time).

This might be SmartScreen, or related?

Disabling this dialog box for file extensions

Note: This is not necessarily a recommended course of action. It lowers security. However, sometimes people may deem that to be an acceptable situation. This guide is leaving the decision up to an administrator, and is documenting how something could be done, but is not trying to recommend this as an actual course of action to take.

Based on the info from IntellAdmin guide, it describes some registry keys that may be able to disable that warning for all files that use a specific extension. To do so:

REG QUERY "\\.\HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Download" /v CheckExeSignatures /t REG_SZ /z
REG QUERY "\\.\HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Download" /v CheckExeSignatures /t REG_SZ /z

REG QUERY "\\.\HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Download" /v RunInvalidSignatures /t REG_DWORD /z
REG QUERY "\\.\HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Download" /v RunInvalidSignatures /t REG_DWORD /z

REG QUERY "\\.\HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Attachments" /v SaveZoneInformation /t REG_DWORD /z
REG QUERY "\\.\HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Attachments" /v SaveZoneInformation /t REG_DWORD /z

REG QUERY "\\.\HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Associations" /v LowRiskFileTypes /t REG_SZ /z
REG QUERY "\\.\HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Associations" /v LowRiskFileTypes /t REG_SZ /z

Note: The above commands, and the following commands, are currently untested by the author of this text at the time of this writing. They are based on information found at: IntellAdmin guide.

If changes are desired, make them. Here is an example of how to do this for a single user. For system-wide changes, use HKLM instead of HKCU.

REG QUERY "\\.\HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Download" /v CheckExeSignatures /t REG_SZ /d no /f

REG QUERY "\\.\HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Download" /v RunInvalidSignatures /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f

REG QUERY "\\.\HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Attachments" /v SaveZoneInformation /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f

REG QUERY "\\.\HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Associations" /v LowRiskFileTypes /t REG_SZ /d .exe;.bat;.com;.msi /f

Perhaps see also these resources: Here are some possible resources: guide, guide

Windows SmartScreen

...

(Further review/reseach may be needed before many details are shown here.)

(This might be related to the “Open File - Security Warning” dialog box, which does have its own documented section.)

[#mswcpscn]: Screenshot creation
Obtaining the image fast

Pressing the “Print Screen” key will copy the screen to the clipboard. Holding Alt while pressing the “Print Screen” key will capture the foreground window, rather than the entire screen.

Once in the clipboard, the image can be pasted into an image editor (even the MSPaint that comes with Microsoft Windows), or other program that supports pasting a graphic (such as supporting “word processor” software).

MS Paint Pre-shrink

If using Microsoft Paint, a recommendable habit is recommended to shrink the image size to 1 pixel by 1 pixel before pasting the image. That way, the image size will be expanded to the exact size of what is in the clipboard. If the image editor's software is larger (in width and/or height) than what is in the clipboard, the result can involve an unnecessary, easily-avoidable border.

To change the size of the image in Windows 10's version of Paint, either use Ctrl-W for the “Resize and Skew” window, or Ctrl-E for the Properties window (also available by going to the File menu, and choosing Properties).

Saving as a *.PNG file is generally recommended, unless using an older version of MS Paint which doesn't suport the PNG file format, or if the picture is a photograph and quality loss is deemed to be acceptable. (In that case, JPEG (*.JPG) can be a preferable choice in some cases.) If *.PNG is unsupported, then *.BMP may be the next-most-widely supported lossless choice (although the file will likely be notably larger).

If you just want to get an image before it goes away, using the Alt-“Print Screen method is a method that can typically be highly recommended.

SnippingTool

Windows 7 also has the %windir%\SYSTEM32\SnippingTool.Exe program. That may simplify the creation of multiple files, but does take a bit more effort to set up the process before the image can be captured.

Startup process

Some information may be seen by: boot loaders in Microsoft Windows.

See also: Wikipedia: List of Windows Components

[#mstask]: Task Scheduler

Names for this have included MSTask.exe and schtasks.exe. See also the highly-related Task Scheduler (Microsoft Management Console version). Also, the at command may be able toi perform similar functionality. (Frequently, there is also an at command on Unix systems.) For further discussion about Task Scheduler, see: Wikipedia's web page for Windows Task Scheduler.

Microsoft did publish a guide for this software: MS KB 178706: How to Schedule a Program Using Task Scheduler.

For similar software (and/or possibly other related details), see: task scheduling.

Misc?

(Some info that hasn't yet been cleaned up / merged into the above sections.)

[#wnmblctr]: Windows Mobility Center

mblctr

Windows Mobility Center Wikiepdia's article on Windows Mobility Center notes pressing Win+X.

(In an experience in Win10, that seemed to pull up a different menu, which did contain “Windows Mobility Center” as an option.)

C:\> REG QUERY HKCU\Software\Microsoft\MobilePC /s

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\MobilePC\MobilityCenter
    LastResolutionX    REG_DWORD    0x780
    LastResolutionY    REG_DWORD    0x438
    LastPositionLeft    REG_DWORD    0x178
    LastPositionTop    REG_DWORD    0x11f
    LastPositionRight    REG_DWORD    0x576
    LastPositionBottom    REG_DWORD    0x318


C:\>

(Note that those vallues don't match the values in upcoming info.)

Untested command lines:

based on REG files from: VistaX forums: “How to Enable Windows Mobility Center on a Desktop Computer”

Enabling:

REG QUERY HKCU\Software\Microsoft\MobilePC\AdaptableSettings /v SkipBatteryCheck
REG QUERY HKCU\Software\Microsoft\MobilePC\MobilityCenter /v RunOnDesktop
REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\MobilePC\AdaptableSettings /v SkipBatteryCheck /t REG_DWORD /d 1
REG QUERY HKCU\Software\Microsoft\MobilePC\MobilityCenter /v RunOnDesktop /t REG_DWORD /d 1

Disabling:

REG QUERY HKCU\Software\Microsoft\MobilePC /ve /s
and delete...
More Misc

Some information on this page may have been learned courtesy of one or more of the following sites. (Much of this may also have been found from some other resources too. These sites were just some larger collections of useful information.)

Yet More Misc topic(s)
Microsoft OneDrive

It seems that Windows 10 has this program pre-installed. However, the program is probably rather useless (at least in the long term) without paying money to Microsoft. If you don't want to see it, there are steps that can be taken.

At the time of this writing, this information has largely been untested by the author of this text. The information in this section (including the section on using Policy) is based on information found at HowToGeek.com: How to Disable OneDrive and Remove It From File Explorer on Windows 10.

Hiding Microsoft OneDrive for Explorer

The reason that it shows up in File Explorer is because of a Registry value that is set to 1. To set it to zero:

  • In a 64-bit version of Microsoft Windows:
    REG Query HKCR\Wow6432Node\CLSID\{018D5C66-4533-4307-9B53-224DE2ED1FE6} /v System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree /d 0
    REG ADD HKCR\Wow6432Node\CLSID\{018D5C66-4533-4307-9B53-224DE2ED1FE6} /v System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree /d 0
  • In a 32-bit version of Microsoft Windows, the proper location is essentially the same but without the need for the Wow6432Node key being in part of the Registry Key path.
    REG Query HKCR\CLSID\{018D5C66-4533-4307-9B53-224DE2ED1FE6} /v System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree /d 0
    REG ADD HKCR\CLSID\{018D5C66-4533-4307-9B53-224DE2ED1FE6} /v System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree /d 0
Disabling OneDrive with Policy

This may only be effective in Pro or Enterprise versions of Microsoft Windows 10, and specifically not Home editions?

HowToGeek.com: How to Disable OneDrive and Remove It From File Explorer on Windows 10 mentions that using this method is more effective. “You won’t be able to access OneDrive at all, not even from within Windows Store apps or use the camera roll upload feature.” “There doesn?t seem to be an associated registry setting you can modify to get the same effect as the group policy setting on Windows 10. The “DisableFileSync” and “DisableFileSyncNGSC” registry settings that worked on Windows 8.1 no longer works on Windows 10.”

gpedit.msc has “Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > OneDrive” which has “Prevent the usage of OneDrive for file storage” set to “Not configured”. Simply set that to “Enabled”.

(There is also a setting, “Prevent the usage of OneDrive for file storage on Windows 8.1”.)

Uninstalling OneDrive

HowToGeek.com: How to Disable OneDrive and Remove It From File Explorer on Windows 10 notes that this became an option with Windows 10 Creators Update, and that web page recommends only using this for Windows 10 Home users. (Apparently that is just because that web page prefers using the Policy approach on the operating systems where that is possible.)

Note that uninstalling OneDrive won't remove the OneDrive icon from the File Explorer's side bar, so you may still want to do that.

Don't fret too much about uninstallilng OneDrive. Users of 64-bit Windows 10 can re-intall using %windir%\SysWOW64\OneDriveSetup.exe while users of 32-bit Windows 10 can re-install using %windir%\System32\OneDriveSetup.exe.

Files

To show a dialog box asking what program to run a file with: rundll32 Shell32.dll,OpenAs_RunDLL filename

To show properties, forum post: https://www.autoitscript.com/forum/topic/67487-get-properties-window-of-a-file/ seems to discuss how to do this using AutoIT. Related: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/desktop/api/shlobj_core/nf-shlobj_core-shobjectproperties https://www.pinvoke.net/default.aspx/shell32/SHOpenWithDialog.html

Lists of commands

This page provides information on many available commands. Here are some other lists: