Restore the Classic Control Panel in Windows 7

After reading last week's post on restoring the classic All Programs menu in Windows 7, reader Bill wrote to say he has "a lot of problems with the Windows 7 Control Panel," and wants the old XP version back.

As many users have no doubt noticed, Windows 7 lacks any kind of "Classic Control Panel" option--which, incidentally, was available in Vista.

However, it's actually pretty simple to change the view to something close to what you had in XP. But before I explain how, allow me to champion the new CP for a moment.

Specifically, you should really learn to take advantage of the new CP's dynamic search capabilities, which make it much easier to find the setting you want than hunting through a big batch of icons.

For example, suppose I want to adjust the settings for my mouse. After opening the Control Panel, all I have to do is click in the Search Control Panel field (located in the upper right corner) and type mo. Presto: The first thing I see is the Mouse category, along with numerous available options.

I can peruse and click one of those options, or keep typing to narrow the selections. If I want to modify the mouse wheel settings, for instance, I'd just type mouse wheel. Presto again: The first option is Change mouse wheel settings.

I know this is different from what XP veterans are accustomed to, but trust me: Once you start using the Control Panel's search capabilities, you'll never look back. (Same goes for Start Menu Search.)

That said, if you really want that old XP-style Control Panel, just click the View by menu (located in the upper right corner, just below the Search field), and then choose Large icons. And there you go! It's not exactly the same, but it's close. And for what it's worth, the Search option still works.

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