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Windows 7: Inside the Ultimate Control Panel

It’s always good to have other ways of performing similar configuration or maintenance tasks. The Windows 7 Ultimate Control Panel gives you just that.

William R. Stanek

By now you’ve most likely heard about the alternate Control Panel view in Windows 7. Some folks are calling it “God mode,” probably because that has much better “Wow” factor than Alternate or Ultimate Control Panel view. Whatever you call it, I prefer to think of this feature as the Ultimate Control Panel (UCP).

To create this alternate view for Control Panel, you simply open Windows Explorer and then create a new folder. Next, you name the folder with any text string, followed by a period and then add the globally unique identifier (GUID) for the alternate Control Panel view.

The GUID is: {ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}.

Besides the GUID, you could name your folder: DadsStuff.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

You could also name it: MyPanel.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

Or even: JustDucky.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

Get it? It’s the GUID that does the magic, not the text string. The GUID is a registered value in the OS. That’s what identifies the alternate Control Panel view. When you create and name the folder this way, you'll get to the UCP. Then you can use the UCP to quickly perform common tasks with the following Windows controls:

  • Action Center
  • Administrative Tools
  • AutoPlay
  • Backup and Restore
  • BitLocker Drive Encryption
  • Color Management
  • Credential Manager
  • Date and Time
  • Default Programs
  • Desktop Gadgets
  • Device Manager
  • Devices and Printers
  • Display
  • Ease of Access Center
  • Folder Options
  • Fonts
  • Getting Started
  • HomeGroup
  • Indexing Options
  • Internet Options
  • Keyboard
  • Location and Other Sensors
  • Mouse
  • Network and Sharing Center
  • Notification Area Icons
  • Parental Controls
  • Performance Information and Tools
  • Personalization
  • Phone and Modem
  • Power Options
  • Programs and Features
  • Recovery
  • Region and Language
  • RemoteApp and Desktop Connections
  • Sound
  • Speech Recognition
  • Sync Center
  • System
  • Taskbar and Start Menu
  • Troubleshooting
  • User Accounts
  • Windows CardSpace
  • Windows Defender
  • Windows Firewall
  • Windows Update

So that’s the UCP at a basic level. What is it reall,y though? Let’s dig a bit deeper. The UCP is an alternate view for the Control Panel. That view is defined as a control within the OS and registered with a specific GUID. That GUID is the same one  listed previously.

Technically, the GUID is the class identifier (CLSID) of the control registered in Windows Registry. How it works is much simpler than you might ever imagine. But first, let’s look at how Control Panel itself works.

Stay in Control

The Control Panel has three general views:

  • Small Icons
  • Large Icons
  • Category

When you’re working with the Category view in Control Panel, you can browse the control applets by category, such as System and Security or Network and Internet. Within each category, there are related applets or utilities, like the Action Center or System. Generally, each applet has a set of related tasks that surface. For example, with Action Center, you have four top-level tasks.

As you continue to work with Action Center, you’ll surface other tasks. For example, if you start Control Panel, click System and Security, click Action Center, and then click Change Action Center Settings, you’ll see the Change Action Center Settings page. By looking under Related Settings, you can find links to several possible tasks.

The first two tasks are subtasks of Action Center. The third is a subtask for Windows Update. This is an important point. The first two tasks run via Action Center, while the third runs via Windows Update in the Control Panel. Another important point is that throughout Control Panel, there may be other links to these tasks. Those links could have the same or different text labels.

Ultimate Control

Knowing this, you can more easily understand how the UCP works. Quite simply, this alternate view lists all the unique subtasks you can have surfaced directly and organizes them by applet.

Applets are listed alphabetically, as are the subtasks themselves. This lets you perform subtasks with the items listed earlier in the article. If you examine the control definition for the UCP in the Windows Registry, you’ll see it’s actually intended to surface all tasks for the Control Panel.

That doesn’t mean you can use the UCP to perform every action or the same set of actions you can perform in Control Panel. Only the subtasks you can directly surface are available. There are many other options and view pages that are unavailable.

For example, the Change Action Center Settings page isn’t directly accessible by clicking an Action Center subtask in the UCP. However, in some instances you could use one of the available tasks to get to the main Action Center page. From there, you could click the Change Action Center Settings link.

Using the UCP lets you work with Windows 7 a bit differently. Everyone’s needs and habits are different, so it helps to have a variety of methods for performing what is ultimately the same set of tasks.

William R. Stanek
William R. Stanek ( williamstanek.com) is a leading technology expert and the author of more than 100 books. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/William.Stanek.Author and on Amazon at amazon.com/William-R.-Stanek/e/B000APT6MS.

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