Introducing Windows 8.1: 9 Ways to Access the Control Panel

What are all the ways for starting the Control Panel, starting with the obvious ones and ending with geekier ways of doing it? To answer this question I did a bit of testing and experimentation. The result is a list with 9 ways that you can use to access the Control Panel in Windows 8.1.

1. Use Search

In Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, the fastest way to start most programs is to use search. While on the Start screen, start typing control panel. Before you finish typing the first word, the Control Panel search result is displayed.

Click or tap on it.

2. Pin Control Panel to the Start Screen or the Taskbar

Another quick way to launch the Control Panel is to pin its shortcut to the Start screen, so that you can click or tap on it with ease.

While on the Start screen, start typing control panel and then right-click or press and hold the Control Panel search result. In the contextual menu, click or tap Pin to Start.

If you are a Desktop user, you can also pin the shortcut to the taskbar, by clicking or tapping Pin to Taskbar.

3. Use the WinX Menu

This tip works very well for PC users: press Windows + X on your keyboard and click the Control Panel entry in this menu.

The same menu can be accessed with a right-click (or press and hold) on the Start button.

4. Use the Control Panel shortcut

If you are a PC user, you can also create a shortcut on the Desktop or download the shortcut we provided in this pack: Download The Biggest Library of Windows 7 & Windows 8 Shortcuts.

Alternatively you can pin this shortcut to the taskbar.

5. Use the Control Panel shortcut in the Apps view

Another way to access the Control Panel is to access the Apps view.

On the Start screen, move the mouse (or your finger, if you are using a touch screen) to the bottom left. The Down arrow is shown. Click or tap on it to open the Apps view.

You will find the Control Panel shortcut in the Windows System folder.

6. Start Control Panel from File Explorer

An ingenious way to start the Control Panel is to use the File Explorer. Go to This PC and then to the Computer tab on the ribbon.

There you will find the Open Control Panel shortcut.

7. Use the Settings charm

Another way is to use the charms. Go to the Start screen or the Desktop. Then press Windows + C to view the charms and press Settings. On a device with touch, flick from the right side of the screen and press Settings.

There you will see several entries including one for Control Panel.

Click or tap on it.

8. Use the Run window

Do you remember the Run window? You can quickly open it by pressing Windows + R on your keyboard.

Then, type control panel and hit Enter or press OK.

9. Add the Desktop Toolbar to the Taskbar

This last method is less intuitive but the result might please many users.

Go to the Desktop and right click the taskbar. Then, go to Toolbars and select Desktop.

This adds a Desktop toolbar to the right side of the taskbar. Click on it and then go to Control Panel.

What's nice about this toolbar is that it displays the main sections and shortcuts from the Control Panel. It can be a productive tool for some users.


I did my best to find and share all the methods you can use for starting the Control Panel in Windows 8.1. Some methods are fast and productive, while others are slow and rather frustrating. Test them all and use those that work best for you.

Also, if you know other methods, don't hesitate to share them in a comment below.