How to Modify Desktop Settings in Windows 10 - dummies

How to Modify Desktop Settings in Windows 10

By Andy Rathbone

Although Windows 10 considerably beefs up the Settings app, sometimes you need to bring out the big guns. The desktop’s Control Panel lets you while away an entire workweek opening icons and flipping switches to fine-tune Windows.

Part of the attraction comes from the Control Panel’s magnitude: It houses nearly 50 icons, and some icons summon menus with dozens of settings and tasks. It offers familiarity, too, because many of its settings haven’t changed much for 20 years.

To open the desktop’s Control Panel, right-click the Start button and choose Control Panel from the pop-up menu.

To save you from searching aimlessly for the right switch, the Control Panel lumps similar items together in its Category view, as shown here. Like the Settings app, the Control Panel sports a Search box in its upper-right corner for finding settings dealing with a particular subject. If you hover your mouse pointer over a major category, the Control Panel describes the available settings.

Rest your mouse pointer over any of the Control Panel's eight categories to see the settings it con
Rest your mouse pointer over any of the Control Panel’s eight categories to see the settings it contains.


Below each category’s name, shortcuts list that category’s most popular offerings. The System and Security category icon, for example, offers shortcuts to review your computer’s maintenance and security status, turn on the File History backup, and access troubleshooting tools.

Some controls don’t fall neatly into categories, so they’re not listed. To see every icon the Control Panel offers, choose either Large Icons or Small Icons from the View By drop-down list, shown in the top-right corner of the figure. The window quickly displays all umpteen-zillion Control Panel icons. (To return to the Category view, select Category from the View By drop-down list.)

Don’t think something’s astray if your Control Panel differs from the one shown. Different programs, accessories, and computer models often add their own icons to the Control Panel. Different versions of Windows may also have slightly different icons.

Rest your mouse pointer over any confusing icon or category in the Control Panel, and Windows thoughtfully explains its meaning in life. (Add this perk to the list of reasons why touchscreen owners will want a mouse when visiting the Windows desktop.)

The desktop’s Control Panel gathers a plethora of switches in Windows into one well-stocked panel, but it’s certainly not the only way to change the settings. You can almost always jump to these same settings by right-clicking the item you want to change — be it your desktop, an icon, or a folder — and choosing Properties from the pop-up menu.