The Windows Control Panel – CompTIA A+ 220-802: 1.5

Windows XP, Vista, and 7 contain similarities in Control Panel utilities. In this video, you’ll learn about some of these standard utilities across all of these operating systems.

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Whether you’re using Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7, there are some control panel utilities that you should be aware of. And in this video, we’re going to look at some of these utilities that are standard to each of those operating systems.

Under the General tab, you’ll find options that allow you to customize how your browsing experience might be. For instance, you can set your home page, what it happens to be when you start your browser for the first time. Or you can determine how your tabs are displayed or what is displayed when your browser starts up.

Under the Security tab, you’ll find options that determine what your browser will be able to use depending on what location you happen to be in. If you are on a public network, maybe you don’t want to download any ActiveX plug-ins, but maybe when you’re at home, you do. You can configure that under the Security tab.

The Privacy tab allows you to configure how our personally identifiable information might be stored or information that can track you as you move from website to website. So you can configure cookie information in here, enable or disable your pop-up blocker, or configure how you’re going to use the InPrivate browsing, which is the anonymous browsing feature within Internet Explorer.

There’s also a Content section that allows you to lock down the browser. If you wanted to configure some family safety options, this is where you would find those. You would also see information about SSL certificates inside of here, which is used for encrypting information that you’re using to communicate to the websites out on the internet.

If you’re communicating to the internet through a virtual private network, you will find VPN information under the Connections tab. This is also where you will set proxy settings. So if you’re in a very large organization that uses proxies as a go between, between you and the internet, this is where those settings are configured.

The Programs tab allows you to configure what your defaults are when you’re using the internet, especially inside of your browser. So when you click on an email address inside of your browser, what email client starts. You can configure all of those types of things under the Programs tab.

And finally, the Advanced tab allows you to get into very detailed configurations of your internet browsing. For instance, if you wanted to enable or disable JavaScript, you could do that inside of the Advanced tab.

All of these work together to be able to determine what your internet browsing experience is going to be like.

Under Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, you will find a Display option inside of your control panel. And as the name implies, this is how you configure the view and the settings for the display that’s connected to your computer.

One of those settings is the Resolution options. This becomes especially important for LCD monitors, since those particular kinds of displays have a native resolution that is going to give you the best display. It will be the crisp display, instead of something that is a little blurrier. So you want to be sure to set those resolutions for exactly the native resolution, if you want something that is as crisp and clear as possible.

Another option inside of the display is the text size. You can make the text on your screen larger or smaller, without changing the default resolution of your system. That becomes very useful if you’re having a hard time seeing some of the text on your screen. Simply modify how big the text is going to be.

And if you’re someone who does a lot of online publishing, working with graphics or photos, you may want to look into the option inside of the Display for color calibration. That way you can configure your screen to look as accurate as possible. So when you’re editing on your display and then you’re finally printing, on the final print out you can have those match as closely as possible.

Inside of your control panel is also an option for User Accounts. These are the accounts that are used when you start up Windows and you log into your system. In Windows, of course, there are different kinds of accounts. You have local accounts that are stored on individual devices. And in very large organizations, you might have domain accounts that are centrally managed from active directory servers in those environments.

When you go into the control panel under User Accounts, we’re dealing only with those local accounts on that machine. As you would expect, the configuration options inside of User Accounts are things that will allow you to customize the experience for the user. For instance, you can configure an account name and the type of account. You can decide who happens to be an administrator and who doesn’t. You can also modify a password. If somebody happens to forget their password or you would like to change it, you can do that from inside the User Accounts utility.

There’s also a picture that is displayed for this account. It’s displayed in many places, but you commonly see that when you first start up your computer and you’re logging in. You’ll see the picture of a person or something that is representative of that particular account. And you can change that setting right here inside of User Accounts.

There’s also a setting in here for certificate information. Every single user has a different set of certificates. And these might be used, for instance, to encrypt information that someone is storing on this computer. Everybody gets a different certificate. So when one person encrypts information, they’re encrypting it with something that is very specific to their account. Somebody else can’t log in and access that information, because that other person will be using a different certificate.

It’s very common to use Windows Explorer if you need to do any type of file management on your computer. And in your control panel under the Folder options, you’ll have the ability to customize what you see in Windows Explorer. One of those is how you would set the General options. For instance, what windows open up whenever you click. You can define how each folder opens, how a single click works, or how the navigation pane might work.

You also an option here for View. If you would like to have very granular control on what you do view inside of the Windows Explorer, that’s the area that allows you to not only configure that, but there’s a nice button in there to reset every option you have, in case you’re not seeing something the way you would expect to see it inside of Windows Explorer.

You also have Folder options for searching. Windows will index a lot of folders, but you can define exactly what folders are indexed. And then you can also define how your searches will work in an area of your drive that is not indexed. All of those options will be available for you inside of that Search tab inside of the Folder options.

When we’re troubleshooting computers, we often want to know some basic information about the hardware. How much memory is inside of your system? What type of processor are you’re running? What version of Windows is this?

If you need to find any of those details, you’ll find that and a little more inside of the System option that is in your control panel. First, you’ll get computer information. So you’ll happen to find out exactly what’s configured in this system, for instance, the operating system version. This system is Windows 7 Professional. It even tells you what service pack is installed on this computer.

I can get something called system ratings, which take a conglomeration of statistics about how much processor speed you have, how much memory, the system configuration, the type of graphics you have, and it gives you a performance score that you can use to compare this to other computers.

You also might want to see and hear what computer name, what work group, or what domain this computer might be a part of. You can also see this in the System tab. And here at the bottom, you’ll be able to tell if this is a genuine Windows system, because you’ll be able to see if it has been activated and what the product ID might be.

If you’re worried about the security of your system, you want to be sure that your anti-virus is up-to-date, that all of the security patches have been installed on your machine. You can visit the Security Center. That’s what it’s called in Windows XP and Windows Vista. If you’re in Windows 7, this is called the Action Center. This is going to be able to give you an overview of exactly this security of your system, anti-virus and anti-spyware. You can see if your automatic updates are configured properly.

And if you’re trying to go to one place to get an overall perspective of how the system is configured from a security perspective, this is a great place to go. And it can give you some pointers about things that you may be able to do. For instance, if anti-virus is not installed, you get a big red view that shows you that there’s a problem. If there’s something that you need to be aware of, but perhaps is not a glaring security problem, you’ll see it colored yellow inside of the Security Center. So you’ll get visual feedback if there’s anything that you need to do to keep your system as secure as possible.

One nice security feature of Windows is the built in Windows firewall. This is something that is running in Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and other Windows operating systems, and allows you to keep the bad guys from coming in to your computer without your knowledge. This is integrated into the operating system, so it’s always going to be there and available for you to use. You can find it in the control panel under Windows Firewall.

If you’re using a mobile device, you know it can be a challenge to have enough battery power to be able to perform the tasks you need. You want to be able to customize how bright your display is. Maybe you’d like your hard drive that is spinning and using power to power itself off whenever there’s no access to the device. Or maybe you’d like the system to automatically turn itself off after a certain amount of time, if nobody’s using it.

You can find those types of options inside of the control panel under Power Options. This is where you would configure power settings for your display, your storage devices, have your system hibernate automatically. And you can customize that whether you’re running off battery power or whether you’re plugged into a wall outlet. If you’re trying to maximize the total amount of time you’ll have available, Power Options is a great resource for you.