How-To Geek

How to Add Control Panel to Windows’ Context Menu

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If you find yourself frequently accessing the Windows Control Panel, why not put it where you can get to it the quickest? Right on the context menu.

Even with the new Settings interface taking over most of its duties, the old Control Panel is still a tool you’ll need to rely on pretty often. Sure, you can pin it to your taskbar—or even to your File Manager window—but having it right on your context menu means it’s always just a right-click away.

Add Control Panel to the Context Menu by Editing the Registry Manually

To add Control Panel to the context menu, you just need to make a couple of quick edits in the Windows Registry.

Standard warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and misusing it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a pretty simple hack and as long as you stick to the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. That said, if you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.

Open the Registry Editor by hitting Start and typing “regedit.” Press Enter to open Registry Editor and give it permission to make changes to your PC.

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In the Registry Editor, use the left sidebar to navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell

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Next, you’ll create a new key inside the shell key. Right-click the shell key and choose New > Key. Name the new key “Control Panel.” The name of this key is the name that will show up on the context menu.

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Next, you’ll another new key, this time inside the new Control Panel key. Right-click the Control Panel key and choose  New > Key. Name the new key “command.”

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With the new command key selected in the left pane, double-click the (Default) value in the right pane to open its properties window.

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In the properties window, enter the following text into the “Value data” box:

rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL

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The changes should take place immediately. To test it out, just right-click anywhere on your desktop or in File Explorer and see if you see the “Control Panel” command.

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If you want to reverse the changes at any time, just head back into the Registry and delete the Control Panel key you created. This will also delete the command key you created inside.

The real beauty of all this is that you can use the same basic procedure to add any program you want to your context menu. Just create a key named whatever you want inside the shell key, create a command key inside that new key, and then change the (Default) value of your new command key to the path for the program.

Download Our One-Click Registry Hacks

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If you don’t feel like diving into the Registry yourself, we’ve created a couple of registry hacks you can use. The “Add Control Panel to Context Menu” hack creates the keys you need to add the “Control Panel” command. The “Remove Control Panel from Context Menu (Default)” hack deletes those keys, removing the command and restoring the default. Both hacks are included in the following ZIP file. Double-click the one you want to use and click through the prompts.

Control Panel Context Menu Hacks

These hacks are really just the shell  key, stripped down to the new keys and values we talked about in the previous section and then exported to a .REG file. Running the hacks just creates or deletes the keys for adding the command to the context menu. And if you enjoy fiddling with the Registry, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to make your own Registry hacks.

Walter Glenn is a long time computer geek and tech writer. Though he's mostly a Windows and gadget guy, he has a fondness for anything tech. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Published 12/2/16
  • Wesley Struebing

    I attempted the change suggested here, and my registry now shows:

    However, (now, I've not tried rebooting, yet),but it does not appear in my context menu, either on the desktop or in file explorer. I run Windows 10 Home 64-bit.

  • Walter Glenn

    @strueb: Ah, I see the problem. You created your Control Panel key here:

    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell

    when it should be here:

    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell

  • Wesley Struebing

    Walter_Glenn <https://discuss.howtogeek.com/users/walter_glenn>

    December 2

    @strueb https://discuss.howtogeek.com/users/strueb: Ah, I see the problem. You created your Control Panel key here:

    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell

    when it should be here:

    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell

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    Ahh! Thank you! I even reread that path several times to ensure I got it right! (and still got it wrong). I'll go back in and change it

  • Walter Glenn

    @strueb: My pleasure! Yeah, it doesn't help matters that there are so many shell keys in various places in the Registry.

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