Using the Control Panel

            The Control Panel of the computer can be found by clicking the Start button or round orb on Windows 7 in the lower left corner of the screen, then clicking Control Panel which is on the right side of the pop-up Start menu. Why is this important you may ask?

            The Control Panel gives you access to various areas of your computer to view, enhance, or change its operation. You may never need to do this but knowing that it is there may give you a better idea of how to proceed should you wish to make changes in the computer’s operation. Click the Control Panel then, if necessary, Windows 7 users should click large icons and Windows XP users should click Switch to Classic View. Although there are nearly 50 icons in Windows 7 and 35 in Windows XP, not all need to be utilized by the user.

            Administrative Tools holds several interesting tools. The event viewer logs list errors logged by the computer for applications, security, and system. This can be a handy way to gain further insight into a computer’s problem. Computer Management lets you view the scheduled tasks, which usually run on a schedule, and Device Manager which shows if the software driver has been properly loaded for each device. There’s even a memory diagnostic listed for Windows 7.

            Devices and Printers (Windows 7) or Printers & Faxes (XP) list your installed printers. By right clicking the installed printer icon and clicking Printer Properties (Windows 7) or Properties for XP users, you can send a test page to the printer.

            Internet Options is probably the most popular one in the group. Here you can reset the home page for Internet Explorer. Sometimes unwanted programs will change your home page. If you open Internet Explorer, type in your desired address for your home page, then open Internet Options and click Use Current, you will reset your unwanted home page to your desired home page. Click the OK button and you are done. When you reopen Internet Explorer it should show the new home page.

            The Mouse allows you adjust the feel of your mouse as you click it or move the arrow across the screen. Here you can speed up or slow down the arrow to your liking.

            Network & Sharing (Windows 7) helps you set up the networking of additional computers but more importantly it assists in troubleshooting connection problems to the Internet. Clicking the red “X” that appears when there is a problem will start a diagnostic to help find the cause of the problem and suggest possible solutions.

            Performance Information and Tools (Windows 7) can give your Windows 7 computer a health check. When the window opens click Advanced Tools and click Generate a system health report.

            Power Options can adjust when the monitor goes to sleep as well as turning off the hard disk when not being used. It also can be used to adjust screen brightness on Windows 7 laptops.

            Programs & Features (Windows 7) or Add Remove Programs (XP) allows you to uninstall unneeded programs.

            The Security Center (Windows XP) will show you if your computer is properly protected. For Windows 7 users you can click the flag icon near the clock and open the Action Center to check your security.

            The System icon allows you to see hardware parameters that are set up for your computer. Unless you have experience it’s best to not to make any changes in this area.

            Although there are many more categories to explore, I’ve touched on a few of more popular ones. Be sure to attend the PC Computer Club meetings to get better acquainted with the Control Panel workings. We meet the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 PM upstairs in the Ardmore room of the Community Center.

Don Trauger – Kennett