Search billions of records on

Computer users' Group

May 16, 2012

The Control Panel on a computer is a page that lists many of the functions that control how your computer operates. Many functions may be better suited to your use of the computer than the default settings that are set for what most users might want. In Windows 7, there are 52 links represented by the function names shown on the page. We'll talk about each of them, some in detail and others just in passing. We'll mention which ones are also apply to Windows XP and cover XP functions not listed in Win 7. But first, we should create a System Restore Point so that if you do something that you can't undo, you go go back to the way your system was before we started. Lick o Start, Control Panel, System, System Protection. There you can click on Create and name it something like Before Changes. Then you can go back to the Control Panel and follow along with the rest of this presentation.

Action Center: Major sub headings are Windows Update, System Maintenance and Backup Settings. You can also start the Trouble Shooter to solve system problems, perform System Restore, and check on your system's performance rating. The three major headings tell you how your system is setup and allow you to change things to perform the way you want. Make sure you automatically check for updates and adjust your backup setting if you use Windows Backup.

In the left hand column, you can click on View Performance Information to see how your computer rates. Several performance items are rated and the final score is the worst score for any item. You can try to improve on that item. You can click on Tips for improving your computer's performance to find ways to improve. There's a lot here so take your time to see if there's something that can improve your computer's performance.

Administrative Tools: (XP also) A host of items here that control many of the aspects of your computer operation. We'll only touch on a few. Event Viewer is a very important function as it keeps track of everything that your computer does. Most items are listed as Information because it only tells that some normal event occurred. What you need to look for when you have a computer problem is an event with an Error tag. Note the time of the error to see it corresponds with an error that you just suffered. You can click on the event to get more information about the error and can opt to send the error report to Microsoft to have them explain how to solve your problem or where to go to learn more. Look at the other functions so that you'll know where to turn in the future to solve a problem. Services is a listing of all of the Services that the computer runs. There are many of them and they can slow down your computer's performance. To find out ones that should not be running and what you can stop and prevent from starting, go to and follow the instructions there.

Autoplay: Lists all of the CD/DVD player options and what should default action occur under each circumstance. One default is Ask me every time which then puts you in charge of what occurs.

Backup and Restore: Here's where you set up Windows to do your Backups. If you use another program, you can ignore the setup part of this but consider Creating a System Repair Disk and Creating a System Image. The Repair Disk requires a writable CD drive and the System Image requires an external hard drive or drive partition.

BDE Administrator: Used for Databases.

Color Management: Windows uses color profiles that are designed for your monitor and for each device that your computer uses such as a color printer. On a desktop computer, you should see if the monitor color profile matches the name of your monitor. You can look through what's there but I wouldn't change anything unless a printer profile is missing. It should be added when the printer is installed.

Credential Manager: When you log on and the computer asks if you want to save the User name and Password, this is what stores them in a Vault. You can back up the vault to be safe and you can change it's location on the computer but there's not much else you'll want to do here.

Date and Time: (XP also) You can use this to set the date and time of your computer. It's usually available from the Task Bar as well. You can also use it to look ahead to see, for instance, what is the date of the third Wednesday of the month. When you date that though, you should be very careful by clicking Cancel when you are done; otherwise your computer will go to that date.

Default Programs: This is most useful for associating a program with a file type or protocol. In other words, associate a file type such as .JPG with the program that you want open all .JPG images. Using the first entry, you can associate more than one type or protocol to a program such as all images (JPG, TIF, BMP etc} to the program that you have elected to view and manage images. You can change default settings such as changing .PDF files from Adobe to another viewer.

Desktop Gadgets: There are several gadgets that you might want to show on your desktop. You can have a clock or a calendar always on your desktop and there are several others that you might be interested in. If you like one, double click on it to load it.

Device Manager: This is where you can see the devices that are installed on your computer but there's not much that you can control. You can update a driver for a device if you think your device is not working as it should.

Devices and Printers: (Printers and Faxes) You can go here when you want to add a device or printer to your computer. If a printer gets stuck, you can go here to find out why. You can click on a printer to see What's Printing and cancel the printing of the stuck documents.

Display: (XP also) There's a lot that you can do here to make your display as easy to see and read as possible. It starts with a screen to adjust the font size to make it easier to read. If you make a change you have to restart your computer for it to take effect. If you click on Adjust Brightness, you are taken to a screen called Power Options where you can adjust several items that affect the usage of power and can adjust the screen brightness. But go through the steps if you want to. Change Display Settings allows you to adjust the screen resolution and connect to a projector. Probably best to set at the recommended value. Adjust Clear Type Text. Click the box Turn On Clear Type. Click Next to continue through a procedure to make Clear Type as readable as possible. Last is Set Custom Text Size where you can drag a slider to adjust text size. Probably what you did on the first screen is good enough.

Ease of Access Center: (Accessibility Options) Things that you can do here include Starting a Magnifier that will make type and images larger, Starting a Narrator that reads any text on the screen; Starting an On-Screen Keyboard, and Set Up High Contrast. Any of these that you start will stay started until you turn them off. They will re-start when you re-start your computer. You should note that you can press the Ctrl and + keys to increase the size of most text without resorting to the Magnifier. Press them as many time as necessary to get the type to the size that you want. It does not increase image sizes as the Magnifier would.

Flash Player: (XP also) Most items that run such as movies that you get from the Internet require the Flash Player. You can adjust how it runs by selecting among Always run, Only if I say so, or Never. I'm in control so I choose the middle one.

Folder Options: (XP also)

Fonts: (XP also) This is s list of fonts available to your computer. Click on one to see what it looks like.

Getting Started: This covers some of what we'll cover but it's a good place to learn more read about the features of Windows 7.

Homegroup: Homegroup allows you to easily share what's on your computer with others in your Homegroup. Only computers using Win 7 can join. Set up the homegroup on one computer, indicate what types of files that you want to share, copy the password and then go to another computer and Join the Homegroup that you just created using the password that you copied. Do that for all of the computers that you want to join.

Indexing Options: Search operates by locating a file that has been indexed. Use Indexing Options to set the file e that you want indexed or accept the defaults which are generally acceptable. Search is the Box that appears when you press Start.

Intel GMA Driver for Mobile: (XP also) If you have an Intel processor on a laptop, this shows up and allows you to change display settings. You can adjust the color settings to see if you find something that you like better but you can return to the defaults if you don't see improvement.

Internet Options: (XP also) First, you can set the Start Page that you always want to open when you start your browser. You can create your own that lists all of your favorite sites or use something like Yahoo or Google. (See our handout for September 14, 2005 for more on creating a Start Page). You can opt to delete your browsing history after every session or save it. I opt for saving it as I often want to return to a site a visited a few days ago. You can enter the Search Engine that you want to use, make it the default and tell it not to accept changes suggested by others. You can adjust how web pages are displayed in tabs. With tabbed browsing you can open several sites and switch among them by clicking on the tab. A great way to compare things. You can go through each of the tabbed items. The defaults for Security and Privacy are usually ok but you can opt for more or less of each. Look at each of the others to see what you want to do. You can set up Parental Control, make Internet Explorer the default browser, set up how you go online and view a host of options under Advanced.

Java: (XP also) Java is a language used by many applications and there's little you can do unless you have experience in Java programming.

Kepboard: (XP also) You can adjust Repeat and Delay options for keys when they are pressed but the defaults are usually good enough.

Location and Other Sensors: Only those who have GPS or other sensors installed need go here.

Mouse: (XP also) You can adjust how your mouse or pointing device works by going through the options offered here. Most of these settings are self explanitory but you can change any and then see if the effect satisfies you. If not, change back to where it was. If you mave a lot of files around, you may want to try Click Lock which allows you to drag without holding the mouse button down.

Network and Sharing Options: (Network Connections, Network Setup Wizard, Wireless Network Setup Wizard) Use this only if you have or use a network. You can set up a local network connection for a wired network and a wireless network connection. You can set up the wireless network to work in the library if you don't have a home network.

Notification Area Icons: You can choose what Icons appear in the Notification Area in the lower right corner of your display. You can have the Icon visible at all times or only when there is a notification.

Parental Controls: Use to control what sites a child can visit.

Performance Information and Tools: Covered under Action Center above.

Personalization: This page lets you adjust several items to meet makes things look at act the way that you like. Change the theme or the basic setup uising Aero or Basic Windows displays. You can also adjust your mouse settings and othrs such as Screen Saver, and Sounds.

Phone and Modem: (XP also) Use this page to set up your dial-up connection.

Power Options: (XP also) Here you can set up many items relating to the use of power. You can choose a Power Plan, When the computer shuts down, Require a password to come out of hibernation, etc.Look through the options and choose what you want.

Programs and Features:(Add, Remove) This is an important page. This is where you delete programs that you no longer use. But before we get there, there are a couple of other items in the upper left; View Installed Updates where you can view all of the updates to the system and delete any that you want to remove but only if it has caused problems. Click on Turn Windows features on or off to see what features are available and what are activated. Point to a feature to learn more about it and use Help if you need more information. I'd stick with the defaults unless you know want you want. To Uninstall a Program, locate the program on the list, click on it and then click on Uninstall, Change at the top of the page. Use this for any programs that you no longer need. You can't just Delete a program, you have to Uninstall it to get rid of all of the pieces of the program that are spread all over. Even that may not remove everything, so you should follow up using Ccleaner or other registry cleaner to get rid of items left in the Registry.

Recovery: This will take you to System Restore where you can restore your system to an earlier time. The process is reversable so don't be afraid to try it if you have problems with something you've done. It's a good idea to create a restore point before you attempt something new.

Region and Language: (XP also) This allows you to set the format that you want for time and date and to select a location where you use the computer.

Remote App and Desktop Connection: Sets up connections to programs and desktops at your workplace.

Sound: (Sounds and Audio Devices, Sound Effects Manager) Allows you set up a microphone and listening device such as headphones. Also lets you identify a sound with an action such as Low Battery Alarm.

Speech Recognition: Using this, you can speak into a microphone and the computer will turn what you say into text. It beats typing. This page will lead you to a tutorial to get started, show you how to set up your microphone and train your computer to understand your voice.

Synch Center: Here you can set up a Synch Partnership with another computer and synchronize files between them so the latest is always available on either one.

System: (XP also) Many of the items we have covered are summarized and available here. Use System Protection Look through what's here so you can come here when you need to change something. Check out Device Manager that shows you all of the devices on your computer and you can update drivers if something isn't running properly.

Taskbar and Start Menu: (XP also) Allows you to locate the Taskbar where you want it, indicate what items should appear, lets you decide what pressing the Start button does and how you want the Start Menu to appear.

Troubleshooting: Choose from among 5 categories what one is not working properly and the Troubleshooter will attempt to correct the problem.

User Accounts: (XP also) Here, you can create an account for each user, set up one as an administrator, choose whether or not to require passwords, etc.

Windows Anytime Upgrade: This option lets you purchase a higher level of Windows 7 that may have more features.

Windows CardSpace: (XP also) Designed for IT Professionals to send data to other sites. Probably disabled on your computer.

Windows Defender: This is a security program that you can get as a free download from Microsoft. It scans your computer for Malware.

Windows Firewall: (XP also) Blocks traffic deemed to be dangerous. You shouldn't use it if you have another Firewall provided by your security software.

Windows Live Language Center: Sets the language to use if you use Windows Live.

Windows Mobility Center: Shows the settings that you have for several items and allows you to adjust them; Display Brightness, Volume, Battery, Wireless Network, External Display and Synch Center.

Windows Update: (Auto Update) Here you can select Automatic Updates (Recommended), install pending updates and view Update History.

Windows XP: These are items listed in the XP Control Panel that are not listed in Win 7.

Add Hardware: Use to install software that goes with a hardware device that you just added. Not usually necessary.

Game Controller: Use to add a Wii or similar game controller.

Scanners and Cameras: Use to add imaging devices like a Webcam.

Scheduled Tasks: Add tasks that you want to run at given times like your Virus Scanner.

Security Center: Windows Firewall, Windows Updates and Anti Virus programs can be setup and adjusted here.

Searching the Internet: You can go here to visit a site totally created and maintained by volunteers. Click on a state in the left column and then seek what you are interested in in that state.

Go here for Canada

The World Genweb is here

FreeBMD has free Birth, Marriage and Death records for England.

Windows 8: I tried to install a virtual computer in which I could run Win 8. As I mentioned last month, my computer didn't have enough memory so I bought a larger memory and got the memory large enough to run Virtual Box but I was still not able to get it set up right. I down loaded a file from Microsoft to test whether my system was capable of running a Virtual Computer. The answer I got was "This system does not have Hardware Assisted Virtuakization" so I was unable to install Win 8. My desktop does support HAV but I continually run into problems and haven't been able to complete the installation of Win 8. Everybody says it's so easy!!

Our Next Meeting: We will take the summer off and not meet again until September 19, 2012.