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How to hack the Windows Registry to add Control Panel to the Desktop right-click menu

The Windows 10 Creators Update hides the traditional Control Panel, but you can bring it back with a Registry hack. This illustrated walk-through will show you how.

Image: iStock/scyther5

While the Windows Creators Update, which Microsoft is rolling out to customers slowly in 2017, is a nice free upgrade to the operating system, there are some side effects that many will find annoying. One such annoyance is the phasing out of the traditional Control Panel in favor of an updated, and touchscreen friendly, Settings screen. The traditional Control Panel screen is still available, however, if you know how to get at it.

In How to access the traditional Control Panel lost in Windows 10 Creators Update, we showed you how to bring the Control Panel back to the forefront by adding a link to the Desktop, Start Menu, and/or the Taskbar. In this how-to article, we will show you how to create a link to the Control Panel and add it to the context menu displayed when you right-click a blank area on the Windows 10 Desktop.

Standard Disclaimer: This tip will require you to edit the Windows 10 Registry file. Incorrectly editing the file could disable the Windows operating system to the point where your system will not boot. In that extreme case, you will have to reinstall Windows from scratch--not a pleasant experience. Please, take a moment to back up your Registry file and create a viable restore point before you try to do any editing.

SEE: 12 tips to get more out of Windows 10 (TechRepublic PDF)

The edit process

Assuming you have created your backup and a restore point, the easiest way to access the Registry is with the built-in registry editor. Click the Cortana search box and type regedit. The first entry in the search results should be the registry editor. Click it to start the app. After answering the security prompt, you should see a window similar to Figure A.

Figure A

Using the navigation panel on the left side of the window, work your way through the hierarchy until you reach this key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell

The Windows 10 Registry file is huge, so don't be surprised by the amount of scrolling you will have to do to find the right key. Eventually, you will reach the right key, which should resemble Figure B.

Figure B

Right-click the Shell key to open the menu and select New | Key to create a new key in the Registry. Name the key Control Panel, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Now, select the new key you just created, right-click on it, and again select New | Key from the menu to create another new key, which you should name command, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

Select the command key you just created and double-click the Default value entry in the right pane. You should see a dialog similar to Figure E.

Figure E

In the Value Data field, type or copy and paste this string:

rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL

Click OK and then close the regedit application. Now, when you right-click an empty area on your Windows 10 Desktop you will see an entry for the traditional Control Panel, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

SEE: Windows 10 power tips: Secret shortcuts to your favorite settings (Tech Pro Research)

Possibilities

This registry hack can be used to create links to other applications as well, if you know the right commands. However, I would not get too carried away--after all, you are editing a file that is vital to the Windows 10 operating system, Creators Update or not.

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Other Registry tricks?

What other ways have you tweaked the Registry to get Windows to work the way you want? Share your advice and experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.

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