How to add anything you want to Control Panel

In Windows, you can add any item you want to the Control Panel's icon-based views such as Large Icons or Small icons, as well as Category view. For icon-based views, it requires only some registry tweaking, whereas for adding to Category view, you require an XML file. Let us see how you can add anything you want to Control Panel's icon views.

In the following image, you will see dozens of custom items added to the Control Panel which are not normally present.

Control Panel
Control Panel items in the past used to be *.CPL files. If they were placed in the Windows system directory, they showed up automatically in the Control Panel. However, in newer releases of Windows, while CPL files still exist, some Control Panel items are not CPL files but regular EXE files.

Adding an icon to Control Panel manually using Registry Editor

For example, let us add the Advanced User Accounts applet, which is not there by default. You can open Advanced User Accounts by typing: netplwiz or control userpasswords2 in the Run dialog or the Start Menu search box. Instead, if you add it to Control Panel, you won't need to remember the command any more, you can search for it or browse for it.

  1. To add any item to Control Panel, you need to know the full command line/path of the command you are adding.
  2. For every item you add to Control Panel, you need a unique GUID/CLSID. Class IDs for hundreds of ActiveX objects are stored in the Windows Registry at HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\ key. If the EXE or command you want to add does not have a GUID, then we can generate it. Download Microsoft's free GUID Generator tool from this page.
  3. Download the EXE file and run it. It is a self-extracting, compressed EXE. Extract it to any path such as a folder on the Desktop and click OK to continue.
    GUIDGen EXE
  4. Open the folder where you extracted it and run GUIDGEN.exe.
    GUIDGen2
  5. Select 'Registry Format' and click Copy, so it will be copied to the clipboard. Now you can close the tool. In my case, after running GUIDGen, the GUID generated was {959E11F4-0A48-49cf-8416-FF9BC49D9656}. I will use it to add the Advanced User Accounts Control Panel.
  6. Now open Registry Editor (learn the fundamentals of Registry Editor if you don't know) and go to this key:
    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID

    Tip: You can access the desired Registry key with one click.

  7. Right click the CLSID key -> New -> Key and paste the name of the key you copied in step 5 here by pressing Ctrl+V. So the resulting key should be:
    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{959E11F4-0A48-49cf-8416-FF9BC49D9656}
  8. Now with the key you created ({959E11F4-0A48-49cf-8416-FF9BC49D9656}) selected in the left pane, double click the (Default) value in the right pane. Type the name of the item as you want it to appear in Control Panel. In our example, there is already a built-in item in Windows called User Accounts inside the Control Panel, so we use the name: User Accounts (Advanced).
  9. Create another string value in the right pane and give it the name "InfoTip". Type the description you want to see as the tooltip when you hover over that item. For example, in this case, an appropriate description is: Configure advanced user account settings and passwords.
  10. Now right click the {959E11F4-0A48-49cf-8416-FF9BC49D9656} key in the left pane and create another key called DefaultIcon. In the (Default) value of DefaultIcon key, enter the path to the icon you wish to use for the Control Panel item you are adding. In this example, we want to add the 6th icon from C:\Windows\System32\netplwiz.dll so enter: C:\Windows\system32\netplwiz.dll,6
  11. Right click the {959E11F4-0A48-49cf-8416-FF9BC49D9656} key in the left pane again and create another new key called Shell. Right click the Shell key and create a new subkey called Open. Finally, right click the Open key and create a key called Command.
  12. With the Command key selected, type the path to the Control Panel item that you wish to add. In this example, let's use: Control userpasswords2.Since so many new keys and values are required, let me show you with a screenshot of how it must look like:
    Key structure
  13. Finally go to the Registry key where we must add this GUID so Windows knows that it must show in the Control Panel. That key is:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ControlPanel\NameSpace\
  14. Right click the Namespace key -> New -> Key. Enter or copy-paste the GUID as this key's name. In this example, the key created will be:
    HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ControlPanel\NameSpace\{959E11F4-0A48-49cf-8416-FF9BC49D9656}

That's it! Now try opening Control Panel using any of these ways. You will see that the Advanced User Accounts item is added next to the regular User Accounts item.
Advanced User Accounts
It will show up in Start menu search results too.

Adding an icon to Control Panel by merging a sample REG file

If you find the above steps are too many, you can copy-paste the steps we did manually into Notepad, save it as a .REG file and double click the .REG file to merge it into the Registry.

  1. Open Notepad and copy-paste the following text directly into it, which includes all of the changes we did above:
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    
    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{959E11F4-0A48-49cf-8416-FF9BC49D9656}]
    @="User Accounts: Advanced"
    "InfoTip"="Configure advanced user account settings and passwords."
    
    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{959E11F4-0A48-49cf-8416-FF9BC49D9656}\DefaultIcon]
    @="C:\\Windows\\System32\\netplwiz.dll,6"
    
    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{959E11F4-0A48-49cf-8416-FF9BC49D9656}\Shell\Open\Command]
    @="Control userpasswords2"
    
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ControlPanel\NameSpace\{959E11F4-0A48-49cf-8416-FF9BC49D9656}]
  2. From the File menu of Notepad, save this file as a .REG file. For example, give it the name: "Add Advanced User Accounts to Control Panel.reg". You must use double quotes in the file name field of the Windows save dialog to save that file with that specific extension. If you don't use double quotes, then the .txt extension will be appended to it, i.e. filename.reg.txt.
  3. Now double click this saved .REG file to merge it into the Windows Registry.

To add another item, you just need to run GUIDGEN again and generate a new GUID in Registry format. Then either create the registry keys and values manually using Registry Editor or just create a copy of the .REG file you created earlier and modify the copy by opening it in Notepad.

For example, let us add another item to Control Panel: Group Policy Editor.

After running GUIDGen, the GUID I generated was {399E23A8-0D86-41fd-A1D3-025A500A8146}. This is the .REG file to add "Group Policy Editor" to Control Panel.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{399E23A8-0D86-41fd-A1D3-025A500A8146}]
@="Group Policy"
"InfoTip"="Configure Group Policy settings."

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{399E23A8-0D86-41fd-A1D3-025A500A8146}\DefaultIcon]
@="gpedit.dll,0"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{399E23A8-0D86-41fd-A1D3-025A500A8146}\Shell\Open\Command]
@="mmc.exe gpedit.msc"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ControlPanel\NameSpace\{399E23A8-0D86-41fd-A1D3-025A500A8146}]

You get the idea. The format of this file isn't hard to understand. The key after HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\ is the GUID you generated, followed by the name by which you want it to be shown in Control Panel. The Infotip value is the tooltip which appears when you hover over the item. Next is the DefaultIcon key and its value. Following that is the command which it will run and the last is the key where the GUID must be added for it to show up in Control Panel.

If you are editing the .REG file directly, please be careful to use double backslashes \\ in the paths. That is required. If you are modifying a registry value directly, you only need to enter the path as C:\XYZ but if you are entering a path in a .REG file, the path must be C:\\XYZ

Using this method, you can add any command, any tool you want to the Control Panel.

11 thoughts on “How to add anything you want to Control Panel

  1. Phil

    Thanks so much!

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko

      you are welcome

      Reply
  2. Jim

    What a fantastic tutorial! I had been searching the Internet for two days trying to find an answer to this question and you nailed it big time. I carefully followed your steps and everything now works great. Thank you very much for taking the time to post this information.

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko

      you are welcome

      Reply
  3. Amaroq Starwind

    The GUID generator isn’t available from Microsoft’s website anymore.

    Reply
    1. Bob

      Yeah that killed all the useful downloads to force more crappy Store apps on you. Use https://www.guidgen.com/ instead. Or you can find Microsoft’s tool somewhere on other download sites.

      Reply
  4. Nilesh Pawar

    Great…. nice article

    Reply
  5. Nilesh Pawar

    thank you….

    Reply
  6. Chris C

    Cant help but think its a incomplete article, it would have been nicely rounded off with a reg file to download that adds all those applets, its great I now know how to do this manually, but adding all those applets manually by searching got the ways to even launch them, then creating the GUID’s etc. is time consuming. Whilst these are already added to the system hence the screenshot, could have exported the reg file for us to import.

    Also the dangers of linking to a vendors file, you never know when they decide to obsolete something and oh boy microsoft have become the kings of obsoleting stuff, next time host the exe directly so people clicking the link dont get a 404.

    Thanks anyway.

    Reply
  7. Josh

    Can you add any program to it as well? Like an exe?

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko

      Yep.

      Reply

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