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What the Vista Control Panel Can Do For You

Set Up Your PC With This One Area


vista control panel

Using the Vista Control Panel

In Windows there are many ways and places to set up and configure the operating system and its programs. However, this is one location where most of it can be done: The Vista Control Panel. This is the home for most of the configuration settings for your computer. If you need to change any pc settings, this area is most likely where it can be done. You can view the Control Panel is two different ways:

  • Normal - guides the user through by features and functions; this is the easiest to use for most people. One thing you will notice is that in some of the sub menus there is overlap. For example, you will for Sync Center located under Network and Internet, as well as in Mobile PC. Each area in this view is a gateway to more tools and programs the can help you achieve different things (these are discussed below).

  • Classic View - the second way to view the Control Panel, that shows the user the actual programs that are used to make configuration changes. This may make it more difficult for you to figure out where to go and what to do to fix your problem. On the flip side, if you are a veteran XP user, you may be used to view the Control Panel this way.

System and Maintenance

The System and Maintenance area contains many useful items; first and foremost is the Welcome Center. If you are new to Vista or Windows in general, you should visit this area to become familiar with its capabilities. This area also contains the Backup and Restore Center, Power Options, Device Manager and Administrative Tools like Disk Defragmenter.


The Security area houses all the configuration settings for programs that protect your computer, including Windows Updates, Windows Defender, Firewall, Parental Controls and Internet Options.

Network and Internet

The Network and Internet area contains information related to connecting with other computers – whether that’s on your home network or on the Internet. This is where you can find other computers, setup file sharing or options for your Internet Browser, configure the Sync Center to keep any mobile devices or other computers synchronized with your computer – be that data files, photos, music, etc.

Hardware and Sound

The Hardware and Sound area allows you to setup printers and scanners, adjust sound setting, configure a mouse or other pointing device, optimize your keyboard response, setup any game controllers, manage the color settings for the display monitor and settings for Bluetooth devices.


The Programs area enables users to uninstall and repair programs, select default programs to run for certain file types (like what program to run MP3s or view Photos with), and configure the Sidebar and add gadgets.

Mobile PC

The Mobile PC area contains the Windows Mobility Center, Power Options, Personalization, Input Devices and Sync Center. In other words, this area contains most of the settings that you would need to configure a Notebook PC for you purposes.

User Accounts and Family Safety

The User Accounts and Family Safety area is where you would add and remove users (User Accounts), set up kid friendly Internet Browsing (Parental Controls), something called the Windows CardSpace that allows you to set up information that web sites can read to more easily identify and logon on users and Windows Mail settings.

Appearance and Personalization

The Appearance and Personalization area contains Personalization settings (for desktop background, colors, screensavers and themes), Taskbar and Start menu settings, the Ease of Access Center, a Folder Options area that allows you to setup how all folders on your computer are displayed, a utility to add and remove fonts and the Sidebar properties to add and configure gadgets.

Clock, Language and Region

The Clock, Language and Region area allows you to set time, date, time zones, regions and languages used on your computer.

Ease of Access

The Ease of Access area can help you optimize the visual display, sound, mouse and keyboard for your use as well as setting up speech recognition.

Additional Options

The Additional Options area usually contains settings for non-Microsoft programs such as mobile phones, update utilities of third party programs, etc.

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