How to add direct Control Panel access in Windows 11 desktop

Despite their best efforts to sideline the Windows 11 Control Panel, it remains an essential tool for troubleshooting. We show you how to add direct access to your desktop.

Image: Anthony Shkraba/Pexels

Since the release of Windows 10 Creators Update In 2017, Microsoft systematically sidelined the traditional, all-powerful Control Panel in favor of more controlled feature access in the Settings app. But there’s still a way in Windows 11 to add direct access to the System Control Panel on your desktop if you want or need it.

SEE: Checklist: Securing Windows 10 Systems (TechRepublic Premium)

The method is deceptively simple and involves a basic change to a single setting. However, getting to the right setting requires a circuitous route through Windows 11’s Settings app. It’s a route you probably wouldn’t stumble upon if you left it to your own devices.

Add Direct Control Panel Access to Windows 11 Desktop

Luckily for us, adding direct access to the Control Panel in Windows 11 Desktop doesn’t involve any editing of the Windows registry file or any other complicated tricks or arcane system changes. All we need to do is change the customization settings.

To access Personalization settings in Windows 11, click on the Start menu and then on the Settings app, which is represented by a gear icon. In the Settings app, click on the Personalization item in the left navigation bar to view the options shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Personalization Dashboard.
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

In the list of items on the right side of the screen, select Themes to display the list of themes displayed in Figure B. The logic behind this location is questionable at best.

Figure B

Personalization screen with circled desktop icon settings.
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

Scroll down the page to find the Related Settings section and click Desktop Icon Settings from the list. This will bring up a separate screen, shown in Figure Cwhich will present you with options to add or subtract specific system icons from your Windows 11 desktop.

Figure C

Desktop Icon Settings with Control Panel checked.
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

From this screen, you can add direct access to the Windows 11 Control Panel on your desktop by checking the Control Panel option. You can also add direct access to other common system functions from this screen. To prevent future themes you may install from removing your access to the Control Panel from the desktop, be sure to uncheck the box at the bottom of the screen to prevent this feature.

When you are satisfied with your selections, click the Apply button, then the OK button. Close the Settings app to complete the procedure. Now, when you check Windows 11 Desktop, you will find an icon with direct access to the Control Panel app. .

Note, we could have accomplished the same thing by manually add shortcut to windows 11 desktop using this path:


But since the Settings app already provides a way to accomplish this task, obscure as it is, it seems that working in the personalization settings is the best method available.

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