How to Set Up Control Panel Shortcuts in Windows 11

The Control Panel has been a part of Windows ever since 1985. For decades, Microsoft gradually expanded that panel with new applets. However, that trend stopped when Microsoft released Windows 8, which was the first platform in its series to include the Settings app.

Although Microsoft is now extending the Settings app, the Control Panel remains in Windows 11. As it still includes many useful applets and options, it’s worth setting up a Control Panel shortcut. You can establish Control Panel desktop, Start menu, taskbar, and context menu shortcuts in Windows 11 with the methods below.

How to Add a Control Panel Shortcut the Desktop

The Windows desktop is the place many users stick shortcuts. There are two ways you can add a Control Panel icon to the desktop. One way is to select a Control Panel shortcut via Desktop Icon Settings. However, you can set up a more flexible CP desktop shortcut with the Create Shortcut tool. This is how you can add a Control Panel icon to the desktop via the Create Shortcut window.

  1. Right-click an area of the desktop to select New and Shortcut on the context menu.
  2. Input %windir%System32control.exe in the location text box, and select Next to proceed.
    The Create Shortcut window
  3. Enter Control Panel in shortcut name text box.
  4. Select the Finish option.

Now you can click your new CP desktop shortcut to open the Control Panel. It will have a Control Panel icon by default. However, you can choose a different one by right-clicking the shortcut, selecting Properties, and clicking Change Icon. Input %windir%System32imageres.dll in the Look for icons box shown directly below, and press the Enter key. Then you’ll be able to choose more icons from the default system set. Select Apply to save the new icon settings.


The Change Icon window

Alternatively, you can download new icons from some website sources. The IconArchive site includes a big repository of ICO files. Enter Control Panel in the IconArchive search box to find some suitable icons. Choose an icon there, click its ICO button, and then press Save. You can add the downloaded icon by clicking Browse on the Change Icon window for the Control Panel shortcut.

Control Panel icons on IconArhive

Because you’ve set up a custom shortcut, you can configure it to open the Control Panel as an administrator. To do so, right-click the Control Panel’s desktop icon and select Properties. Click Advanced on the Shortcut tab. Then select the Run as administrator option shown directly below, click OK, and press the Apply button.

The Run as administrator option

How to Set Up a Control Panel Keyboard Shortcut

If you set up a Control Panel shortcut as outlined in method one, you can apply a hotkey to it. Then you’ll have a handy keyboard shortcut you can press to bring up the Control Panel whenever you need it. You can establish a CP hotkey like this.

  1. First, add a Control Panel shortcut to the desktop as covered for the first method.
  2. Right-click your Control Panel desktop shortcut to select its Properties context menu option.
  3. Click inside the Shortcut key box, and press the C key. Pressing C will establish a Control + Alt + C keyboard shortcut.
    The Shortcut key box
  4. Select Apply to save the new keyboard shortcut.
  5. Click OK to exit the window.
  6. Press the new Ctrl + Alt + C hotkey to bring up the Control Panel.

A keyboard shortcut is more convenient than a desktop one because you won’t need to minimize windows to access the Control Panel. However, don’t delete the Control Panel shortcut on the desktop. You’ll still need it there for the hotkey to work.

Read also: How to Set Up Your Own Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows 11

How to Add a Control Panel Shortcut to the Start menu and Taskbar

The taskbar and Start menu are two alternative places you add a Control Panel shortcut to. You can add CP shortcuts to those Windows areas with the Pin context menu options. This is how to select those options for the Control Panel.

  1. Launch Windows 11’s search tool (click the magnifying glass taskbar icon to open it).
  2. Input Control Panel within the Type here to search text box.
  3. Right-click the Control Panel search result and select Pin to taskbar.
    The Pin to taskbar and Start menu options
  4. To add the Control Panel to the Start menu, select the Pin to Start option.

Then you can open the Control Panel either by clicking its new taskbar icon or selecting the pinned app on the Start menu. Note that you cannot select to pin the CP to both the taskbar and Start menu. To remove a pinned Control Panel shortcut, right-click its taskbar or Start menu icon and select the Unpin option.

The Unpin from taskbar option

Read also: How to Customize the Start menu in Windows 11

The context menu is what opens when you right-click a space on the desktop (or a file, folder, icon, etc). That’s a good place to add shortcuts, but Windows 11 doesn’t include any built-in options for users to do so. Nevertheless, you can still add a Control Panel shortcut to the desktop context menu either by manually tweaking the registry or with Winaero Tweaker.

Winaero Tweaker is a very cool freeware customization app for Windows. That program includes many desktop, taskbar, File Explorer, logon, shortcut, and context menu customization settings. You can add a Control Panel shortcut to Windows 11’s desktop context menu with Winaero Tweaker as follows.

  1. Open the Winaero Tweaker download webpage.
  2. Click Download Winaero Tweaker to save its ZIP archive.
  3. Click the Winaero ZIP to open it.
  4. Select the Extract all option on the command bar.
    The Extract all option
  5. Press the Browse button to choose an extraction path.
  6. Click the checkbox for the Show extracted files when complete option to select that setting.
    The Extract Compressed (Zipped) Folders window
  7. Select the Extract option.
  8. Double-click the WinAeroTweaker setup file.
  9. Then go through the setup wizard to install WinAero Tweaker.
  10. When you’ve installed the software, open the Winaero Tweaker window.
  11. Click the Control Panel context menu option shown below.
    Winaero Tweaker's Add Control Panel to Desktop option
  12. Select the Add Control Panel to Desktop context menu checkbox.

Now you can select a Control Panel option on the context menu. Note that the option will be on Windows 11’s classic context menu. Right-click the desktop and select Show more options to view the classic menu. Then select the new Control Panel submenu, which includes alternative Category and Large icons options. Click Category to open the panel with that view.

The Control Panel context menu option

Read also: How to Add Software Shortcuts to Windows 11’s Desktop Context Menu

Set Up New Shortcuts and Make the Control Panel More Accessible

So, that’s how you can make the Control Panel more accessible in Windows 11. You can make that panel directly accessible from your desktop, taskbar, or Start menu. Alternatively, add a shortcut for it to the context menu if you prefer. Whatever shortcut you set up will save you from having to search for the Control Panel whenever you need it.

A Windows PC on a desk
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