What Is a Control Panel Applet?

Definition of a Control Panel Applet & Examples on How They're Used

The individual components of the Windows Control Panel are called applets. Each Control Panel applet can be thought of as a miniature program that can be used to configure settings for any number of different areas of Windows.

These applets are joined together in one place, the Control Panel, to make accessing them easier than with a standard application installed to your computer.

What Are the Different Control Panel Applets?

There are lots of Control Panel applets in Windows. Some are unique to individual versions of Windows, mostly by name, but a good portion of them are pretty much the same in Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

For example, the Programs and Features and Default Programs applets that are used to install or uninstall programs and Windows features, used to be called Add or Remove Programs prior to Windows Vista.

From Windows Vista through Windows 8, you can install Windows OS updates through the Windows Update applet.

One that's useful for lots of people is the System Control Panel applet. You can use this applet to check which version of Windows you have as well as to see basic system information like the amount of RAM the computer has installed, the full computer name, whether Windows is activated, and more.

Two other popular applets are Device Manager and Administrative Tools.

The Control Panel in Windows 10

How to Open Control Panel Applets

Control Panel applets are most commonly opened through the Control Panel window itself. Just select them like you would to open anything on the computer.

However, most applets are also accessible from the Command Prompt and Run dialog box using special commands. If you can memorize the command, it's much quicker to use the Run dialog box to open the applet than it is to click/tap through the Control Panel.

One example can be seen with the Programs and Features applet. To quickly open this applet so you can uninstall programs, just type control appwiz.cpl into a Command Prompt or the Run dialog box.

Another one that's not so easy to remember is control /name Microsoft.DeviceManager, which you can probably guess is a command used to open Device Manager.

See our List of Control Panel Commands in Windows for a listing of each Control Panel applet and its associated command.

More on Control Panel Applets

There are some Control Panel applets that can be opened without using a special command or even without opening Control Panel. One is Personalization (or Display prior to Windows Vista), which can also be launched by right-clicking or tapping-and-holding the Desktop.

Some third-party programs install Control Panel applets to make it easier for the user to access certain application settings. This means you may have additional applets on your computer, ones that aren't from Microsoft.

The program IObit Uninstaller, which is an alternative to Windows' built-in Programs and Features tool, is a free uninstaller program that's accessible through its Control Panel applet.

Some other applets that may come installed with non-Microsoft programs and utilities includes Java and NVIDIA.

The registry keys listed below, located under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE registry hive, are used to hold registry values that describe the location of CPL files Control Panel uses as applets, as well as for the location of CLSID variables for applets that don't have associated CPL files.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Control Panel\Cpls
  • What are the limitations of applets?

    Applets can’t modify files, load libraries, nor communicate with servers outside of where the applet is stored. Online Java applets cannot access certain system properties nor run programs on your computer.

  • What is a Java applet?

    Java applets are small programs that run in a web browser. You must enable Java in Chrome to use Java applets.

  • What is an IFTTT applet?

    IFTTT is a free, web-based service for creating custom applets for connecting your apps. IFTTT applets are essentially conditional statements that create a chain reaction between at least two of your apps, hence the name “If This Then That.”

Was this page helpful?