Unified Support Technician Guide to Utility Easy Access via the Windows Command Shell
That Control Panel or Windows Utility that was once easy to find in Windows XP is now buried under more dialogs and hidden in a new interface layout with the introduction of Windows Vista and beyond. Microsoft can't leave things in familiar places. It is like having someone go into your shop and reorganize, or disorganize all of your tools.
The good news is that if you know the DOS COMMAND (roughly speaking since it isn't really DOS anymore and the programs are not console programs) to open the control panel interface you need, you can always get a command shell in any Windows version and from there directly access the interface. This provides a unified familiar way to get to settings and utilities that will work in any version of Windows from Windows XP though Windows 8.1 - very handy.
You can get to a command prompt in any of these windows versions by pressing Windows Key + R. However, you may need to create a temporary shortcut to cmd.exe on the desktop and right-click to open it by selecting "Run as Administrator..." for some of the settings access to function properly with the correct security privileges.
- 1 SECTION 1 - Windows Control Panel Applet Commands
- 2 SECTION 2 - System Protection and System Restore
- 3 SECTION 3 - Microsoft Management Console applets EXPANDED
- 4 SECTION 4 - Windows Maintenance Programs
- 5 SECTION 5 - NT Console Service Control "net service"
- 6 SECTION 6 - Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line
- 7 SECTION 7 - Control Panel Applets Complete List
- 8 SECTION 8 - Command Line Tools Miscellaneous
SECTION 1 - Windows Control Panel Applet Commands
In Windows XP you click START and then RUN to access the Run dialog. This can be accessed by a right click on the Windows logo (where the start menu was in XP) in the Windows desktop (not the Metro screen.) Windows Key + R also launches the Run program dialog box.
Common Windows components can be accessed directly by executing them from the run program dialog, such as the Control Panel. Enter "control" and click OK to open the control panel. See below for other common applets:
You can use "control" + the applet name below, or, depending on your version of Windows, simply use the applet name alone.
- sysdm.cpl - system properties (Advanced System Settings) contains System Protection (Microsoft System Restore), and Computer Name, Workgroup, & Domain
- ncpa.cpl - network connections (configure NICs and other connections)
- firewall.cpl - windows firewall
- appwiz.cpl - programs and features (add/remove programs)
- hdwwiz.cpl - add hardware wizard
- desk.cpl - display screen res
- inetcpl.cpl - msie properties
- powercfg.cpl - power mgr
- mmsys.cpl - sound
- timedate.cpl - date and time
- nusrmgr.cpl - user accounts and passwords (Windows 7)
Special control panel applets (you must type "control" before the applet name.
- control - open windows control panel
- control folders - folder options (where you can do things like show hidden files and show file extensions)
- control mouse - mouse device properties
- control userpasswords - user accounts and passwords
- control fonts - opens the fonts folder in an explorer window
- control printers - opens printers folder
- control system - opens system properties (Vista, 7 and 8x)
- control desk.cpl,screensaver,@screensaver - Screensaver
- control /name Microsoft.WindowsUpdate - Windows Update (legacy: wuapp.exe)
Microsoft Management Console applets
- devmgmt.msc - Device Manager
- diskmgmt.msc - Disk Management
- fsmgmt.msc - File Share Mgmt
- services.msc - Services Management, start / stop / disable services
note: These (some or all) Windows Applet commands work in Windows versions including 2000, XP, 7, and 8.
This is not a comprehensive list, it is a list of the common more common/useful commands. See our discussion page for additional commands.
SECTION 2 - System Protection and System Restore
Start System Restore from a command prompt
You can start System Restore from a command prompt window if you cannot start your computer in any mode other than Safe Mode with Command Prompt. You need to have an administrator account to perform these steps. This procedure is for "restoring" and not for creation of a restore point. Microsoft KB-304449 Q304449
- Start your computer in Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
- At the command prompt, type "rstrui.exe," and then press Enter.
- This method goes directly to the "Restore system files and settings" dialog.
Start System Protection from a command prompt
System Restore is used to restore your system from an already existing restore point in Windows Vista/7 and System Protection is used to create a restore point. System Protection can not be ran directly from the command prompt. It can be accessed indirectly from one of two interfaces that you can open from the command prompt.
- Run system restore "rstrui.exe" and then click the link in the middle of the dialog that is the last line of text which reads "To create a restore point,
- open System Properties
- Click the "System Protection" tab and then the "Create..." button in the bottom right.
- Use this method to manually create a restore point or change automatic restore point configuration.
System Protection is actually one of the tabs in the System Properties dialog box. The "System Protection" tab has a button in the bottom right of the dialog which says "Create..." System Properties is a Windows Control Panel Applet and the command "sysdm.cpl" is one of the many useful Windows Control Panel Applet Commands.
See Microsoft System Restore for more information.
SECTION 3 - Microsoft Management Console applets EXPANDED
Control desktop Launches the Desktop Control Panel subprogram Control color Launches the Desktop Control Panel subprogram, with the Appearance tab preselected Control date/time Launches the Date/Time Control Panel program Control international Launches the Regional Settings Control Panel subprogram Control mouse Launches the Mouse Control Panel subprogram Control keyboard Launches the Keyboard Control Panel subprogram Control printers Displays the Printers folder Control fonts Displays the Fonts folder Control folders Launches the Folder Settings Control Panel subprogram Control netware Launches the Novell NetWare Control Panel subprogram (if installed) Control telephony Launches the Phone and Modem Options Control Panel subprogram Control admintools Displays the Administrative Tools folder Control schedtasks Displays the Scheduled Tasks folder Control netconnections Displays the Network and Dial-up Connections folder Control infrared Launches the Infrared Control Panel subprogram (if installed) Control userpasswords Launches the Users and Passwords Control Panel subprogram
SECTION 4 - Windows Maintenance Programs
These are executable programs that are part of the Windows operating system used for maintenance tasks.
cleanmgr.exe - Windows disk cleanup wuapp.exe - Windows Update (see also: control /name Microsoft.WindowsUpdate and wuauclt /updatenow) chkdsk /f - reboot to scan and repair filesystem errors chkdsk /r - reboot to both fix errors on disk and locate bad sectors to recover readable information
Run chkdsk with administrator privileges on Vista and higher. Create a shortcut to cmd.exe, right click, and choose to "Run as Administrator." It is not necessary to use the /f switch with check disk when using the /r switch, since /r assumes /f too. Using the /r switch takes substantially longer than using /f.
SECTION 5 - NT Console Service Control "net service"
Restart IIS and related services from msdos with net command:
net stop iisadmin <- stops iis and related services, usually including w3svc, smtpsvc, msftpsvc, etc...
Starting them up
net start w3svc <- will also start iisadmin net start smtpsvc <- smtp service
Other useful tips:
mode con lines=50 <- make dos window larger (using legacy ansisys cmd) net view <- see all netbios workstations with sharing net view \\workstation <- see shares on a machine
NET [ ACCOUNTS | COMPUTER | CONFIG | CONTINUE | FILE | GROUP | HELP | HELPMSG | LOCALGROUP | NAME | PAUSE | PRINT | SEND | SESSION | SHARE | START | STATISTICS | STOP | TIME | USE | USER | VIEW ]
NT Console Other Options
Determine Uptime on Windows XP,
cmd /k Systeminfo | Find "Up Time"
Systeminfo shows much info. host, install date, uptime, etc.
Determine Uptime on Windows 2000
net statistics server
Start, Stop Windows Update Service (windows 2000/XP - Windos 10)
Net stop WuAuServ Net start WuAuServ
SECTION 6 - Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line
wmic partition list brief wmic nicconfig where index=9 call enablestatic("192.168.16.4"), ("255.255.255.0") - Update static IP address wmic nicconfig where index=9 call setgateways("192.168.16.4", "192.168.16.5"),(1,2) - Change network gateway wmic nicconfig where index=9 call enabledhcp - Enable DHCP wmic process call create "calc.exe" - Start an application wmic process where name="calc.exe" call terminate - Terminate an application wmic process where name="explorer.exe" call setpriority 64 - Change process priority wmic process get /format:htable > c:\process.htm - Process list wmic logicaldisk where drivetype=3 get name, freespace, systemname, filesystem, size, volumeserialnumber - Information about harddrives
Redirect and format output to a file, information about the OS
wmic os get bootdevice, buildnumber, caption, freespaceinpagingfiles, installdate, name, systemdrive, windowsdirectory /format:htable > c:\osinfo.htm
SECTION 7 - Control Panel Applets Complete List
Control admintools Administrative Tools Control desktop Desktop personalization Control folders Folder options Control netconnections Network connections Control printers Devices and Printers Control userpasswords User Accounts Control appwiz.cpl Programs and Features Control desk.cpl Screen resolution Control hdwwiz.cpl Device Manager Control powercfg.cpl Power options Control sysdm.cpl System Properties Control wuaucpl.cpl Windows Update Control /name Microsoft.BackupandRestore System image backup/restore; Repair disc Control /name Microsoft.CredentialManager Web apps, Windows logon credentials Control /name Microsoft.DefaultPrograms Default Programs Control /name Microsoft.FileHistory File/settings backup & restore Control /name Microsoft.Recovery System Restore/Recovery Drive Control /name Microsoft.StorageSpaces Manage storage spaces
SECTION 8 - Command Line Tools Miscellaneous
- wuapp.exe - Windows Update (versions up to 8.1)
- wuauclt.exe /updatenow - Windows Update for Windows 10
- msinfo32.exe - GUI Window with comprehensive listing of the computer hardware, resources, software, and Internet settings. You can also redirect to text file ( msinfo32 /report c:\info.txt )
- systeminfo.exe - console text version. useful to pipe to text file ( c:\systeminfo > info.txt )
- sdclt.exe - Windows Backup and Restore GUI interface.
- wbadmin.exe - Windows Backup and Restore console command.
- netplwiz.exe - New command as of Windows 7 for managing user accounts. Legacy: "Control Userpasswords2" in XP.
- taskmgr - task manager and control startup programs in Windows 10
- shutdown /g - like shutdown /r except also restarts any registered program when the system has loaded.
If you want to force Windows to restart into SAFE MODE this can be done with VISTA and higher in a privileged command shell:
bcdedit /set safeboot Minimal
Then to set Windows back to normal boot:
bcdedit /deletevalue safeboot
otherwise it will keep booting into safemode.