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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Finally, select the Control Panel desktop icon and press OK.
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.
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.
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.
In the menu that shows up, select Control Panel to open it.
The Control Panel is now open, and you can use it as required.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
In the “Create new task” window, type control, and press Enter or OK.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.