Restore Missing/Hidden Items in Windows 7 or Vista Control Panel

By Lowell Heddings on August 1st, 2007

Have you ever wondered where the Display Settings icon or Network Connections folder went in the Control Panel’s Classic View? For that matter, why can’t you search for them using the start menu search? Because they are prohibited from loading in the registry – that’s why.

Look ma, no display settings!

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To resolve this deliberate oversight, open up regedit.exe using the start menu search box, and then browse down to the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Control Panel\don’t load

Once you are there, you will see a number of items in the right-hand pane. Make a backup of that key with the export function, and then delete away.

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desk.cpl is the Display Settings wizard, and ncpa.cpl is the network connections folder. I’m going to delete those two, and now if you hit refresh on your control panel (or re-open it) you’ll see the items restored in your Control Panel:

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You can even now find them when you search using the start menu search box, which really makes me happy.

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Note that you can also hide control panel items using the same key if you choose.

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 08/1/07
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