The Control Panel is the center for most of your Windows Vista customization—or personalization, as it is now called. You can open the Control Panel through Start > Control Panel (or by pressing Win+R and then typing control). This Figure shows the Control Panel Home screen.
The major portion on the right of the screen shows the category headings, each of which links to a group of related functions. The subheadings beneath the category headings are links directly to some functions within those categories. In the Navigation pane are links to related tasks (which change as you move through the Control Panel).
Some of the Control Panel functions in Vista are dramatically different from those in XP; others are nearly identical to XP’s. That’s part of the excitement of exploring the Control Panel.
Note the section at the bottom of the Navigation pane for Recent Tasks (not shown in Figure 1 but you’ll see it as you move through the Control Panel), an easy way to return to your most recent activity in the Control Panel. This list will change as you use the Control Panel. Use the Control Panel Home link in the Navigation pane to return to the starting point. In some places, you will have to use the back arrow to return.
Control Panel Home Vs. Classic View
On the left of the Control Panel Home screen, you’ll see an option for the Classic View. Choose it and the previous category view disappears. In place of the new view is something closer to the old Control Panel appearance that originated with Windows 95. Clicking the Control Panel Home link returns you from the distant past.
In Classic View, every function under the Control Panel appears (42 icons in my case) in alphabetical order.
I confess that in XP I almost always work in Classic View. XP’s Category View seems to make it harder to get straight to the desired function. However, Windows Vista has greatly improved organization and direct access to functions, with links under the major categories as well as in the Navigation pane. Give this new default view some time to impress you. Resist reverting to Classic View immediately.
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