With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, decided to conceal the traditional Control Panel so familiar to users of earlier Windows versions. The company instituted a supposedly friendlier and more intuitive Settings interface for user-instigated installation and configuration changes. In general, this new interface is adequate for most user's needs regarding the customization and personalization of Windows 10—but not always.
Users will often need to access the older Control Panel because it offers many more configuration and personalization choices than the new Windows 10 Settings interface. This is particularly true when you want to add optional Windows 10 features, tools, and applications. In these cases, the traditional Control Panel, despite decades of service as a configuration interface, is still the best way to access and install optional features.
This how-to tutorial shows users how to access the traditional Windows Control Panel and how to add and subtract optional features, tools, utilities, and applications in Microsoft Windows 10.
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Traditional Control Panel
Unless you have made some tweaks to the Windows Registry or added a link or two, as shown in How to access the traditional Control Panel lost in the Windows 10 Creators Update, you will not find a direct link to the traditional Control Panel in Windows 10. The best way to reach it is by typing "control panel" into the Cortana search box at the bottom of the Desktop. The first search result should be the Control Panel desktop app we are looking for—click or tap it to reach Figure A.
Now, click the Programs link, which will take you to the subsection shown in Figure B.
From there, click on the link that says, "Turn Windows features on or off," and you should find yourself looking at a screen similar to Figure C.
This long list of optional features, tools, and applications can be turned on by placing a checkmark in the appropriate box. Those boxes filled in but not checked indicate that some submenu items are checked on, but not all. When you are finished making changes, click the OK button to confirm.
Many of the listed items support legacy systems and other specific circumstances that most users will never experience. However, a few applications and features could be very important for IT pros, developers, power users, and system admins.
For example, Hyper-V and the Windows Hypervisor Platform are vital features for users taking advantage of virtual machines. And, if you are using Microsoft Edge or some other browser exclusively, there is really no need to keep Explorer 11 active, is there?
Warning: Be careful what features and apps you turn off and on with this technique—the default settings will work just fine for the majority of Windows 10 users, and changes in this list should only be made when necessary and for specific reasons.
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Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.