2.5 Icons and Themes

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2.4 The Control Panel

When you click the Start menu, your ultimate destination is often the Control Panel ‚ a kind of central dashboard that lets you customize many aspects of Windows XP, from your network connections to the date and time display, to your mouse and keyboard. Most people think that when it comes to the Control Panel, what you see is what you get. But the Control Panel earns its name in more ways than you think. This section explains how to tap into your latent domineering instincts .

2.4.1 Accessing the Control Panel Faster

Getting to the Control Panel's menus and dialog can be an epic clickfest. You have to click the Start menu, then the Control Panel icon itself, and often several other icons and menus to get to the one you need. Your hand could fall off before you reach your destination.

You can speed up the time it takes to get to Control Panel applets ‚ the programs where you actually tweak settings ‚ by having Windows XP display them in a cascading menu when you choose Control Panel from the Start button, as shown in Figure 2-20.

To make Control Panel applets cascade, right-click the Start menu and choose Properties Start Menu Customize Advanced. Under the Control Panel heading, choose "Display as a menu." Click OK, then OK again.

Tip: If you're a serious Control Panel jockey, place a toolbar for it on the taskbar. Section 2.3.4 tells you how.

2.4.2 Cleaning up the Control Panel

The Control Panel has a bevy of settings you can manage. But the sheer number of icons makes it tough to find the ones you want. You can clean things up by hiding the Control Panel applets you rarely use. When you hide these applets, you don't actually delete them ‚ you just hide their icons at the back of the closet. You can still run them if you need to (Section 2.4.3).

To hide the Control Panel applets, you have to use the Registry. First run the Registry Editor (Section 15.1.2) and then follow these steps:

  1. Go to My Computer HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Control Panel .

    As you might guess from the key's name, it's the one that handles many aspects of the Control Panel.

    Figure 2-20. Save valuable time and energy by displaying Control Panel applets as a cascading menu. If there's a particular applet you use frequently, save yourself even more time by dragging it from the menu to the desktop or Quick Launch bar to create a clickable icon for the applet.

  2. Create a new key called don't load .

    Note that the "don't load" key may already be in your Registry. If it is, don't create another one. This key lists all the applets you want to hide. (Full instructions on creating new keys are on Section

    Bring Back Program Manager

    If you long for the old Program Manager from the days of Windows 3.x ‚ which let you manage and run Windows programs ‚ your days of longing are over. Program Manager still exists in Windows XP; it's just hidden. To run it, type Program at the Run box or command prompt and press Enter. The old Program Manager appears, although it won't display your programs; you have to add them manually. Adding them is simple: Just drag them onto Program Manager from the Desktop, or from Windows Explorer.

  3. Create a new string value whose name is the filename of the applet you want to hide .

    For example, to hide the Mouse Control dialog box, the string value would be main.cpl . See Table 2-1 for a list of Control Panel applets and their filenames.

    Before hiding an applet, run it from the Control Panel so that you know exactly what it does and you're sure it's one you rarely use.

  4. Continue to create string values for all the applets you want to hide .

    There's no limit to the number of applets you can hide, so go crazy.

  5. Exit the Registry .

    The applets no longer appear in the Control Panel.

Table 2-1. Control Panel Applets and their Filenames



What It Does

System Properties


Shows the System Properties dialog box, which has a wide variety of information about your computer. Worth keeping.

Display Properties


Shows the Display Properties dialog box, which lets you change your display settings, screen saver, themes, and similar features. Worth keeping.

Network Connections


Shows the Network Connections folder, which lets you look at all the network connections on your PC, such as America Online. Worth keeping.

Accessibility Options


Shows the Accessibility Options dialog box, which lets those with disabilities set options that make it easier to use their computers. If you don't have a disability, go ahead and hide this applet.

Add or Remove Programs


Displays the Add or Remove Programs dialog box, which lets you add or remove programs. Keep this one.

Add Hardware Wizard


Displays a wizard that lets you easily add hardware. Worth keeping.

Internet Properties


Displays the Internet Properties dialog box, which lets you change a variety of browser and Internet settings. You can get to this window in Internet Explorer by choosing Tools Internet Options, so consider hiding this applet.

Region and Language Options


Lets you change your language or regional settings, such as whether to display money in dollars or pounds . If you live in the U.S., you might as well hide this one.

Game Controllers


Lets you configure a joystick or other game controller. If you don't have one, hide this puppy .

Mouse Properties


Lets you change how a mouse works, by changing its pointer (for example). Keep this one.

Sound and Audio Devices


Lets you configure your sound card and other audio hardware. You probably won't use this applet much, but it's helpful when something goes wrong, so keep it.

User Accounts


Manages your user accounts, by letting you do things such as add users or change passwords. Keep it.

ODBC Data Source Administrator


One of the most arcane applets in all of Windows XP, and only needed by database programmers. Feel free to hide it.

Power Options Properties


Gives you ways to change how your computer uses power, such as turning off the screen after it hasn't been used for 10 minutes. Useful if you have a laptop; otherwise , consider hiding it.

Phone and Modem Options


A difficult-to-use applet that lets you control modems in ways you probably don't want to investigate. Consider hiding it.

Time and Date Properties


Lets you change your system date and time. Keep it.

Speech Properties


Lets you control how your computer talks to you. If you don't like having a conversation with your PC, hide it.

To run an applet you've hidden: At the Run box or command line, type its filename from Table 2-1. For example, to run the Internet Properties applet, type Inetcpl.cpl at the command prompt or Run box, and then press Enter. (This method won't work for every applet; see the next hint for another option.)

2.4.3 Bypassing the Control Panel with Keyboard Shortcuts

As you saw in the last hint, you can run many Control Panel functions using the command prompt or Run box. But that won't let you run every applet and dialog box. For some functions, you need to use the control command. For example, to run the Folder options dialog box, type control folders at the command prompt or Run box and press Enter.

Table 2-2 gives you a list of commands, and what each controls.

Table 2-2. Commands for launching Control Panel applets and dialog boxes


Applet or Dialog Box It Launches


Control Panel

control userpasswords

User Accounts

control userpasswords2

Advanced User Accounts

control folders

Folder Options

control desktop

Display Properties

control printers

Printers and Faxes

control mouse

Mouse Properties

control keyboard

Keyboard Properties

control netconnections

Network Connections

control color

Display Properties/Screensaver

control date/time

Date and Time Properties

control schedtasks

Scheduled Tasks

control admintools

Administrative Tools

control telephony

Phone and Modem Options

control fonts

Fonts Folder

control international

Regional and Language

2.4.4 Recategorizing Control Panel Applets

Applets in the Control Panel are organized by category, depending on what they, well...control. For example, the Mouse Properties applet is in the Printers and Other Hardware category, and the option to change your screen saver is in Appearance and Themes.

But you're not stuck with Windows XP's categorization scheme ‚ you can put any applet in any category you want. So if you want the Mouse Properties applet to show up in the Appearance and Themes category, move it there. Use any system that makes it faster and easier to spot the panel you're looking for.

To put an applet in a different category, you need two pieces of information: (a) the filename of the applet (for example, main.cpl for the Mouse Properties dialog box), and (b) the Registry value for each Control Panel category. For applet filenames, use Table 2-1. To get the Registry value for each Control Panel category, use Table 2-3 later in this hint. With that information in hand, you can reorganize any Control Panel applets.

To move a Control Panel applet to a different category, run the Registry Editor (Section 15.1.2), and then:

  1. Go to My Computer HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Control Panel Extended Properties {305CA226-D286-468e-B848-2B2E8E697B74}2 .

    A long list of keys appears, each of which corresponds to a particular Control Panel applet.

  2. Find the Registry Key of the applet you want to move .

    The filename of the applet appears on the end of the key, for example, %SystemRoot%\system32\main.cpl is the Mouse Properties dialog box.

  3. Find the filenames for the applet you want to move, using Table 2-1 .

  4. Edit the DWORD value of the Control Panel category where you want the applet to appear .

    For example, if you want the applet to appear in the Performance and Maintenance category, give it a value of 5. The Registry then displays the value as 0x00000005(5).

    Use Table 2-3 for a list of Control Panel Categories and the corresponding values. You can edit as many applets as you want.

  5. Exit the Registry .

    The applet appears in the new category.

Table 2-3. Control Panel Categories and their Registry Value Data

Control Panel Category

Value Data

Accessibility Options

0x00000007 (7)

Add or Remove Programs

0x00000008 (8)

Appearance and Themes

0x00000001 (1)

Date, Time, Language and Regional Options

0x00000006 (6)

Network and Internet Connections

0x00000003 (3)

Other Control Panel Options

0x00000000 (0)

Performance and Maintenance

0x00000005 (5)

Printers and Other Hardware

0x00000002 (2)

Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices

0x00000004 (4)

User Accounts

0x00000009 (9)

No category


Windows XP Power Hound
Windows XP Power Hound: Teach Yourself New Tricks
ISBN: 0596006195
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 119

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