How to create a custom Control Panel for Windows Vista

As you may have noticed, the Control Panel contains a lot of stuff you rarely use, making it harder to find the stuff you do. So why not create a Control Panel that only contains the items you use frequently. Follow the instructions outlined below and you’ll have your own custom Control Panel in no time.

vista start menu with custom control panel

Before we get too far into it – there really is no reason you can’t do this with Windows XP either. It’s just that the exact steps used in this tutorial are for Vista. If you use XP, you’ll be able to follow along and get the gist of it.

  1. Open your Control Panel and use the link on the left side to switch to Classic View – so that all of the items in your Control Panel are displayed.
  2. classic view of the vista control panel
    click to enlarge

  3. Somewhere on your hard drive, it doesn’t really matter where, create a folder called Custom Control Panel (or whatever you’d like your customized control panel to be called).
  4. create a new folder in vista
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  5. Now open your “Custom Control Panel” folder and drag the items you frequently use from your actual Control Panel into it. This will create a shortcut to each item.
  6. shortcuts to items found in the vista control panel
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  7. Once you’ve added all of the items you want to include in your custom Control Panel, right-click on its folder and select Properties.
  8. right click a folder in vista
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  9. Select the Customize tab and then click the Change Icon… button.
  10. customize folder window
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  11. Choose an icon to use for your new Control Panel, and click OK. Click OK again to exit the Properties window. This should take you back to your Custom Control Panel folder.
  12. vista folders
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  13. Now drag that folder on to the Start button (orb) until the menu appears. Drop the folder on the top part of your Start window (see image below). Now you have quick access to your customized Control Panel.
  14. vista start menu with customized control panel
    click to enlarge

  15. You can of course access your actual Control Panel the same way as always, should the need arise.

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0 thoughts on “How to create a custom Control Panel for Windows Vista”

  1. I guess I’m just old school, but I don’t really see this helping me as much as Vista instant search. Maybe it’s because I’m a fast typist, but I find it much, _MUCH_ easier to tap the start key with my pinky and just type ‘device manager’, ‘Network and’ or just ‘admin’ and let Vista Instant Search find what I’m looking for… Although, I must admit that I personally love using the keyboard and keyboard based shortcuts.

    Still, I think this is a great tip for helping me administer my family’s Vista based machines. I can throw the most frequently used panels into a custom control panel and this’ll simplify me supporting them over the phone a little bit quicker.

  2. Sometimes it is often the simplets of tasks that make a big difference in our day to day lives. This is exactly one of those!

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