17 ways to open Control Panel in Windows 11 and Windows 10

Control Panel

Where is the Control Panel in Windows 10? What about in Windows 11? How do you open the Control Panel? How many ways are there to open it? To answer these questions, we did a bit of testing and experimentation. We had to do that because, both in Windows 11 and Windows 10, the Control Panel is hidden compared to Microsoft’s older operating systems, like Windows 7. We managed to compile a list of seventeen different ways to open the Control Panel. Let’s see all of them, starting with the obvious ones and ending with the geekier methods:

Quick Steps

How to open Control Panel using search
  1. Click or tap the search button, or the search box from the taskbar if you’re on Windows 10.
  2. Then start typing “control panel” and click or tap the “Control Panel” search result or select it and press Open on the right pane.

NOTE: We wrote this tutorial using Windows 11 build 22000.160 and Windows 10 with May 2021 Update. If you are using older versions of Windows 11 or Windows 10, some things might look differently. Most methods to open Control Panel are the same in both operating systems. However, when a method works only in one of them, we clearly state it in its title.

1. How to open Control Panel in Windows 11 or Windows 10 using search

One of the fastest ways to start anything in Windows 11 and Windows 10 is to use the search feature. Click or tap the search button, or the search box from the taskbar if you’re on Windows 10. Alternatively you can also just press the Windows key on your keyboard. Then start typing “control panel” and click or tap the “Control Panel” search result or select it and press Open on the right pane.

Open Control Panel in Windows 11 using search

2. Launch the Control Panel using the Settings app from Windows 11 or Windows 10

An alternative, yet a bit lengthier way of using search to open the Control Panel involves using the Settings app. In Windows 11, open Settings and type “control panel” in the search field found on the top-left side of the window. Then, click or tap on the Control Panel result.

Open Control Panel in Windows 11 using the search from Settings

In Windows 10, open Settings and type “control panel” in the search field found at the top-center area of the app. Once the search results are shown, click or tap on the Control Panel result.

Open Control Panel in Windows 10 from Settings

3. Open Control Panel in Windows 10 using its Start Menu shortcut

A straightforward way of opening the Control Panel in Windows 10 is from the Start Menu. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t work in Windows 11.

In Windows 10, click or tap on the Start button or press the Windows key on your keyboard. In the Start Menu, scroll down to the Windows System folder. There, you should find a Control Panel shortcut: click or tap on it, and the Control Panel is launched.

There’s a Control Panel shortcut in Windows 10’s Start Menu

4. How to open Control Panel in Windows 11 using the Start Menu Windows Tools

In Windows 11, there’s a new shortcut called Windows Tools in the Start Menu. You can use it to get to the Control Panel. Open the Start Menu by clicking/tapping on the Windows logo on the taskbar, or press the Windows key on your keyboard. Then, open the All apps list and scroll down until you find the Windows Tools shortcut. Click or tap on it.

Windows 11 has a Windows Tools shortcut in its Start Menu

The Windows Tools shortcut opens the Control Panel and automatically takes you to its Windows Tools category. You can now click or tap on the Control Panel shortcut.

Click or tap on Control Panel in the address bar

5. Pin a Control Panel shortcut to your taskbar or Start Menu in Windows 11 or Windows 10

To access the Control Panel quickly, you might want to pin a shortcut for it in a place where you get to see it without effort. Some areas where you should consider pinning it are the taskbar or the Start Menu.

To do that in Windows 11 or Windows 10, search for the Control Panel as we’ve shown you in the first method from this tutorial. Then, right-click or press-and-hold on the Control Panel shortcut, and then select either “Pin to taskbar” or “Pin to Start,” depending on what you prefer.

Pin a Control Panel shortcut to the Start Menu or the taskbar in Windows 11

6. Add a Control Panel desktop icon in Windows 11 or Windows 10

You can also add a Control Panel icon on your desktop. Regardless of whether you use Windows 11 or Windows 10, open the Settings app, go to Personalization, access Themes, and then click or tap on “Desktop icon settings.”

Getting to the Desktop icon settings

Finally, select the Control Panel desktop icon and press OK.

Adding a Control Panel shortcut using the Desktop Icon Settings

7. Create a Control Panel shortcut, in Windows 11 or Windows 10

In a similar fashion, you can also simply create a shortcut that opens the Control Panel and save it anywhere you want. It can be on your desktop, as well as in a folder. We’ve detailed the steps for creating a shortcut in this tutorial - the basic steps are: right-click or press-and-hold on an empty space on your desktop or in a folder, go to New in the contextual menu, and select Shortcut. Then, in the Create Shortcut wizard, point your new shortcut to “%windir%\System32\control.exe”, give it a name (Control Panel, for instance), and save it.

Manually create a Control Panel shortcut

8. How to open Control Panel in Windows 11 or Windows 10, using a shortcut from our collection

If you’d rather get an already-made Control Panel shortcut, know that we’ve assembled one of the most extensive collections of shortcuts for Windows. Download and extract it, and, inside, find the shortcut for the Control Panel in the “Windows 10 -> Administration Tools” subfolder. Note that this shortcut works both for Windows 10 and Windows 11.

The Control Panel shortcut found in our collection

9. Open Control Panel using File Explorer’s address bar, in Windows 11 and Windows 10

An ingenious way to start the Control Panel is to use the File Explorer. Open File Explorer and click or tap on the first caret button from the folder path bar at the top.

The first caret button from File Explorer’s address bar

In the menu that shows up, select Control Panel to open it.

Starting the Control Panel from File Explorer

The Control Panel is now open, and you can use it as required.

10. Get Control Panel in File Explorer’s folders list, in Windows 11 and Windows 10

File Explorer offers yet another easy method to open the Control Panel that works both in Windows 11 and Windows 10. Open File Explorer’s Folder Options window, select the View tab, enable “Show all folders” at the end of the “Advanced settings” list, and then click or tap on OK.

The Show all folders option from File Explorer’s Folder Options

As soon as you do that, File Explorer shows an entry point for Control Panel in the navigation area. Click or tap on it, and the Control Panel opens.

Control Panel is found in File Explorer’s navigation pane

11. Open Control Panel by running the control.exe file, in Windows 11 and Windows 10

The executable file for the Control Panel is control.exe. Both in Windows 11 and Windows 10, you can find it in the Windows folder in the System32 subfolder. Double-click or tap on it and the Control Panel is launched immediately.

The control.exe file in Windows 11

12. How to open Control Panel using Run, in Windows 11 and Windows 10

Press the Win + R keys on your keyboard to open the Run window. Then, type “control” and hit Enter on your keyboard or press OK.

Using Run to open Control Panel in Windows 11

13. Open Control Panel from Command Prompt or PowerShell

If you like Command Prompt, PowerShell, or Windows 11’s new Terminal, you should know that the command for starting the Control Panel is control. 🙂 Type control in your favorite command-line app, and then press the Enter key on your keyboard. It immediately launches the Control Panel.

Using Windows 11's Terminal to open Control Panel

14. How to open Control Panel in Windows 11 or Windows 10 from the Task Manager

One other way to open the Control Panel is to use the Task Manager. Launch Task Manager (a quick way to do it is to press the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys on your keyboard). If the Task Manager opens up in compact mode, click or tap on “More details.” Then, open its File menu and click or tap on “Run new task.”

Run new task in Task Manager

In the “Create new task” window, type control, and press Enter or OK.

Opening Control Panel from the Task Manager

15. Use Cortana to launch Control Panel in Windows 11 or Windows 10

Here’s a method to open the Control Panel for the more talkative users out there: speak with Cortana. First, open Cortana using search or by clicking or tapping on her shortcut from the Start Menu. Then, either type “control panel” and press Enter, or push her microphone icon and use your voice to say “Open Control Panel.”

Asking Cortana to open Control Panel

16. Open Control Panel using the WinX menu from Windows 11 or Windows 10

This method doesn’t work in Windows 11, and it doesn’t work in the latest versions of Windows 10 either. It used to work flawlessly in the first versions of Windows 10, but this changed since Windows 10 Creators Update. Before that, the WinX menu included a Control Panel shortcut by default. Although it’s not the case anymore, you can get it back regardless of whether you’re using Windows 11 or a recent Windows 10 version by following these steps.

Adding a Control Panel shortcut in the WinX menu from Windows 11

17. How to open Control Panel from Windows 10’s desktop taskbar toolbar

This method works only for Windows 10 and is less intuitive, but the result might please many users. Go to the Desktop and right-click or press and hold on an empty space on the taskbar. Then, go to Toolbars and select Desktop.

Adding the Desktop toolbar to the taskbar

This adds a Desktop toolbar to the right side of the taskbar. Click or tap on it and then double-click on the Control Panel to open it.

The Control Panel menu from the Desktop toolbar

What is nice about this toolbar is that, if you just hover the mouse cursor on it, it also displays the main sections and shortcuts from the Control Panel. It can be a productive tool for many users.

Control Panel shortcuts are shown in separate lists

Which is your favorite way of opening the Control Panel in Windows 11 and Windows 10?

These are all the methods we know of starting the Control Panel both in Windows 11 and in Windows 10. Some of them are easy, while others are not as straightforward. We hope you found this list helpful and, if you know other methods, do not hesitate to share them in the comments section below.

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