What is a Control Panel Applet?

Deepak Gupta February 22, 2022
Updated 2022/02/22 at 4:09 PM

The different versions of the Microsoft operating system, Windows, have a component that allows us to view and edit the system configuration. This component is the Control Panel. If you are a Windows user, surely at some point you have needed install a keyboard, a mouse or uninstall applications. Well, all these actions and much more can be carried out from this tool.

The Windows control panel is made up of a series of subprograms that are the ones that actually make the configuration changes on the computer. In addition to those already mentioned, other applets allow you to control user accounts, set accessibility options, and network connections. If you want to know what is a control panel applet on Windows, I invite you to continue with us.

In the following article we explain each of the subprograms that we can find in the Windows control panel.

Table of Contents


Control panel applet

Control Panel is a Windows tool that has been available since Windows 1.0. In each new version of the system, new functionalities have been introduced within this tool. A control panel applet is each of the components that make it up, and that perform some specific function.

The applet, as a control panel applet is also known, is a kind of mini program that is used to configure and make settings in almost all areas and components of the system. The control panel is implemented as a kind of special container folder. That is, it does not physically exist, rather it stores a series of direct accesses to the control panel subprograms.

A subprogram is souledsupper on disk as a file with a .cpl extension. For example, the subprogram that allows Add or remove programs is in the folder System 32 with the name appwiz.cpl.

Control Panel applet .cpl file Add or remove programs.

The interface and therefore the way to access the subprograms has been changing during the different versions of Windows. With Windows XP, an interface was established that allowed browsing between the different applets similar to web browsing.

Starting with Windows 8, a parallel tool to Control Panel with the name pc setup, which was modified by windows settings in Windows 10. From the latter it is possible to access all the applets and settings of the control panel. However, we can still use the old Windows control panel. This new interface was implemented to optimize the use of touch screens and the applications of the Universal Windows Platform UWP.

Control panel applet listing

Below we briefly describe the different Windows Control Panel applets. These applets are stored separately on the computer, usually as a file. cpl.

The locations of these are stored in the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Control Panel/Cpls.

.cpl files in the system registry.
.cpl files in the system registry.

This key stores the locations of all .cpl files of the control panel applets. Once we access one of these subprograms from the control panel, it looks for these addresses and loads it for execution.

The main standard control panel applets are:

Accessibility

refers to the file Access.cpl.

This subprogram is responsible for setting the cAccessibility settings of the user to the equipment. Here it is possible to modify the behavior of the keyboard, and play sounds for visually impaired people.

Accessibility Control Panel applet.
Accessibility.

Add Hardware

refers to the file hdwwiz.cpl.

With this subprogram we access an assistant that allows us to install a new device or hardware to the computer. We can select the device driver from a list that is displayed, or directly search for the file in the browser.

Control panel applet Add or remove programs

refers to the file appwiz.cpl.

This allows add, change or remove any software that has been installed on the computer. We may update new versions of certain software. It is also possible to repair a program that is not working properly. Here it is also possible to activate or deactivate the Windows features that we have installed. It also provides the ability to specify which apps to use for specific tasks, such as the default web browser, audio and video player, and more.

Control Panel applet Add or Remove Programs.
Add or remove programs.

Administration tools

In this section we have a series of tools to configure and establish administration characteristics of the operating system. Among these we can find settings related to security, performance and configuration of Windows services.

Actually, these options constitute accesses to the configurations of the Management Console of Windows, such as Event Viewer and Local Services.

Automatic Updates

refers to the file wuaucpl.cpl.

This subprogram sets the configurations on how the system should proceed before new updates of the same or of software and programs. By default it has the option enabled. Download and install daily. However, these options can be changed at a higher frequency. In addition to setting other options for the system to notify you of new updates before downloading and installing them.

Control panel applet Date and time

refers to the file timedate.cpl.

This function changes the system date and time which is stored in the BIOS of the motherboard. We can also modify the time zone, synchronize the time with servers on the Internet, and activate or deactivate the automatic change to daylight saving time.

Control panel applet Date and time.
Date and Time.

Show

refers to the file desk.cpl.

In this category we can set the computer display settings. Here we set the wallpaper with one of the default Windows images, or one of your own. We will also control the configuration of the screen saver. Other features configured in this option are the color styles, themes, fonts, screen resolution, and color quality.

Folder Options Control Panel applet

Refers to files rundll32.exe shell32.dll, Options_RunDLL 0.

Configure how folders and files are displayed in file explorer. Among these settings we have the ability to choose whether a folder opens in the same window or an extra window. Also if the hidden files were shown in the explorer.

Applet for folder configuration
Applet for folder configuration

We can also choose specific programs for different types of files, and the option to hide critical files from the operating system.

Internet Options

refers to the file inetcpl.cpl.

Here we can configure the options regarding connection to Internet from our computer. We will configure web browser settings, such as deleting browsing history, and others regarding browsing security.

game controllers

refers to the file joy.cpl.

used to add a new joystick or controller for games. In addition, we can solve problems of those already installed. In Windows 10 it is only found in the Windows Settings app.

keyboard and mouse

refers to the file main.cpl.

Change and set the keyboard and mouse settings. Among the options of the first we can set the default language of the keyboard, and the key repetition frequency.

As for the mouse, we can choose which of the two clicks will be the main one and which will be the secondary one. Also mouse sensitivity and cursor scrolling speed.

Control Panel Applet Network Connections

refers to the file ncpa.cpl.

Here are set the network connection parameters of the computer. We can choose betweenr IPV4 or IPV6.

Once the version of the IP protocol has been chosen, we can enter the network connection parameters such as the IP address, mask, gateway and DNS servers. Or we just choose Obtain an IP address automatically to connect to a server DHCP and that it provides the parameters.

network uration.
Network Configuration.

Energy options

refers to the file powercfg.cpl.

Here I know manages the power consumption of the computer. We can establish various consumption plans such as balanced or economizer. Also sleep periods or idle time for the monitor to turn off.

Printers and faxes

Here are all the printer or fax devices connected to the computer. We can also see the document queue that has been sent to print for each of these.

We can also set our printing and fax preferences, such as print and paper quality.

Regional and language settings

refers to the file intl.cpl.

Here you modify the region and language settings. For example, keyboard layout and default language. Also the language in which the menus and system options will be displayed.

Audio and sound devices

refers to the file mmsys.cpl.

Here we can see the different audio, microphone and sound drivers installed on the computer. We will configure the volume, as well as the sound mixer. We can activate or deactivate the devices that we want.

System

refers to the file Sysdm.cpl.

This subprogram is used to configure some main operating system options. Here we can configure the amount of memory RAM or the speed of CPUs. We can also establish a workgroup or a domain, and change the name of the computer.

We may also manage and configure hardware devices and obtain information about them, such as the name of the manufacturer. As well as the driver versions of these devices.

Control Panel Applet User Accounts

refers to the file nusrmgr.cpl.

In this control panel applet we can manage computer access accounts. Here we can create a new account, as well as delete one. Allows you to change the password and user name of the account, and also to set the type of account, such as normal user, guest or system administrator.

Other control panel applet

The operating system Windows offers other applets. Among these we have some associated with device peripherals such as scanner, cameras, audio devices, among others. These types of applets do not actually provide a control interface, but rather basic tasks and shortcuts to installation, configuration, or removal wizards.

Among other applets distributed by Microsoft for Windows we have some related to biometric devices, for example, for fingerprint scanning. Also wireless device drivers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, among others.


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