How-To Geek

Add Control Panel to the Desktop Right-Click Menu in Vista

A couple of days ago I noticed a thread on our forum asking how to add Control Panel to the desktop context menu, so I decided to write up the solution for everybody, since it seems like a really useful hack.

Since we like to explain with screenshots, when you right-click on the desktop you’ll see a new menu item called Control Panel:


Once you select that item, obviously it will immediately open up Control Panel:


Of course you could use the same technique to add any item into the context menu, or you could even use the same location in the registry to remove things like the NVIDIA Control Panel or ATI Control Center from the menu.

Manual Registry Hack

Open up regedit.exe through the start menu search or run box, and then browse down to the following key:


Once you are there, you’ll want to right-click on “shell” and create a new key called Control Panel.


Under that one, you’ll want to right-click and create a new key called “command”.


Select the “command” key on the left-hand side, and then set the (Default) value on the right-hand side to the following:

rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL

You should immediately see the new item in your context menu, and it should be working. To remove, simply delete the Control Panel key.

Downloadable Registry Hack

Simply download, extract, and double-click on the AddControlPanelToDesktopMenu.reg file to enter the information into the registry. You should immediately see the new item. To remove, use the included remove script.

Download AddControlPanelToDesktopMenu Registry Hack

Are there any other items you would like to see added into the context menu? Tell us in the comments.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/11/08

Comments (40)

  1. nick

    how about a control panel menu? the menu right there in the right-click. seems like more of a time-saver

  2. zeepkist

    how about a control panel icon in the quick launch toolbar

  3. AC

    This didnt work on XP, there is no directory->background->shell

  4. The Geek


    Sorry about that, I don’t think this works in XP. Here’s a guide for how to customize the menu in XP from the excellent Tweaking with Vishal site.

  5. Hamilton

    Should this work in XP?

  6. LifesSweetDrug

    Thanks geek :-)

    I am interested in anymore productive Registry Hacks.

  7. LifesSweetDrug

    I don’t suppose it is possible to put it by Personalize instead of copy and past etc.

  8. jpmays

    This doesn’t work in Windows XP Pro w/SP3. I first tried the “Manual Hack”, but to no avail. I’ve been downloaded the .reg file “AddControlPanelToDesktopMenu.reg” and merged it with my registry, but it to did not work.

    Does this not work on XP? Inquiring minds want to know!

  9. Lee

    The closest I can get to making it work in XP is to use HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell and then follow the instructions in the article.

    This means though that you can only see the Control Panel option when you right click on a directory. It appears near the top after ‘Explore’ before ‘Search..’

  10. Stuey

    Here’s another cool way to get to Control Panel plus My Computer. Right click on the task bar. Go to Toolbars then click on New Toolbar. Then in the next dialog click on My Computer then click OK. This will put a link just like the Quick Launch to All your drives plus Control Panel. Click on it and it works just like the Start Menu. Go to Control Panel and all the sub menus show up. Then you click on any one you want without having to open the Control Panel Window.

    You can also hone in on any file in your computer by just mousing over all the links until you get there. The only drawback is that it doesn’t show hidden files.

  11. Gene

    A few months ago you had a tip to set up My Admin Panel, a console with some user-definable shortcuts. Might be nice to have quick access to that via Desktop context menu.

  12. LH

    Even Kellys-Korner have put this up as an XP hack.

  13. Michael_Higham

    Okay, here’s another tweak to add Registry Editor to Desktop right-click menu. To do this: –

    1. Click Start, type regedit and click [Enter].
    2. Navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell.
    3. Under shell, create a new key called Registry Editor.
    4. Under Registry Editor, create also a new key called command.
    5. Double-click (Default), type C:\WINDOWS\REGEDIT.EXE and click OK.

    Now you will have a Registry Editor option when you right-click on the Desktop.

  14. Alugarde

    What if I want to add some random directory to my context menu….say, ‘C:\Users\Alugarde\System Utilities’?

  15. twjolson

    I tried doing this same thing with Task Manager, but it didn’t work, I don’t know why.

    I put it in the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell and added a Command key. In that I put C:\Windows\System32\taskmgr.exe in the default entry.

    Anyone know why it’s not working?

  16. john

    Careless editing and proof-reading: nowhere in the article do you mention that the hack only works on Vista and not also XP.

    Instead of leaving that detail just in the comments, maybe you should put it in the article itself.

  17. The Geek

    I’ve changed the title now to reflect that it’s only for Vista.

    (Note that nowhere in the article do I mention it works on XP either, and the screenshots are clearly from Vista)

  18. mjschmidt

    Wow, look what I started with a little question!

    Big thanks are due to LH who posted the original hack in the forum.

  19. Alugarde

    twjolson, I’ve been messing around with key values a lot trying to figure out how to make it open my System Utilities folder, and since I don’t know anything about the registry I’ve basically been trying anything that sounds like it might work. I’ve noticed that filepaths definitely don’t seem to work.

    However, win32 programs DO work. So, if for example you just put “cmd.exe” as the key value, it’ll bring up a command prompt. Likewise, if you just put taskmgr.exe, it should work.

  20. Alugarde

    Now I just need to figure out how to make a win32 app open a filepath. :p

  21. twjolson

    You know what it was, I was in the wrong place; rather than \directory\background\shell I was just in directory\shell. Stupid newbie error. Now I got task manager and command prompt on my right click menu

  22. Alugarde

    Has anyone had any luck with adding a directory to the context menu?

  23. geakz

    Nice. Thanks.

  24. Le Toan Thang

    Are you can add some thing to the desktop richt click menu?How to add some thing ex:Windown media player,Internet explozer

  25. Spacegold, Apache Junction, Arizona

    Thanks, Geek. The loader worked right out of the box. Good thing, too, because I wouldn’t touch the registry with a ten foot pole.

  26. arvo

    I would like to see this placed next to the Personalize link like LifesSweetDrug said. It would also be a wonderful thing to have the little icon there as well. Do you think that is possible?

  27. JayC

    How can I adjust this to make a line on the top of “Control Panel”. Just like a new category. You have this “line” like “NEW”, standing alone!
    And possibility to add I icon on it, would be nice!

  28. moudda

    how can i add photo to right click menu or add website of eny thing else.

  29. BlackBear

    What about the customising the position? Such as making the Control Panel below Personalize instead of popping out in the middle?

  30. LH

    To BlackBear. Context menus are made up of different sections. Depending on where the key is located in the registry, and the loading sequence, determines where the menu entry will be placed.
    If there are several menu entries in the same key, they will show up alphabetically in the menu.

  31. JEFF

    will this work in windows 7?

  32. Kev

    I found this after using your other article on adding stuff to the context menus and had already added the Control Panel. The method I used was as you describe but with a simpler “command” string – I simply put “control” instead of the more long winded “rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL” and found it worked perfectly. Hope this adds another option for your readers and well done on the informative website!

  33. azzpenn

    Followed your instructions and it worked like a champ! Thanks!

  34. Vinzal

    Thanks geek!!! That help a lot! =)

  35. Simon Savage

    My right Click Menus are saving me so much time these days with all theses little hacks nice one Geek, and the downloadable registry hacks make it nice and lazy for me to add them again great work guys?

  36. glassbug

    I am running Windows 7. I followed the instructions carefully (twice) and all I see when I right-click on my desktop is “rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL” instead of the words “Control Panel”. Then when I click on it, i get a message saying there is no program associated with this command. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  37. happy chap

    Thankyou so much geeks.

    listen as far as i can tell you can put countless extras in cool!

    my question is how to get the picture on one side of the txt?

  38. Hutch

    Hey, can someone tell me what the default value in the command key to ad RegEdit to my right click menu in desktop?

  39. Hutch

    Oh yeah, and many thanx to everyone, you guys made it real easy. I now have RegEdit in control panel, & command prompt, control Panel, & task mgr all in my desktop context menu.
    Thanks again!

  40. Rom

    As glassbug above, “I am running Windows 7. I followed the instructions carefully. When I click on it, i get a message saying there is no program associated with this command. Any help would be greatly appreciated.”

    My problem is that I use W7 and a GeForce FX5200 with 96.85. The control panel won’t show up (and so, I can’t rotate the display). The CP on ControlPanels only shows a couple of quite useless tabs.

    However, if I unisntall the driver (96.85) anad restart W7 will install a driver (where is it??) that shows and works…

    Any help would help with my sleep.

    All the best

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