Windows Vista Search for .cpl files – Especially ncpa.cpl

Windows Vista Search for .cpl files – Especially ncpa.cpl

When you remember that the .cpl file extension stands for Control Panel, then my purpose becomes clear.  I want to show you how to create keyboard shortcuts, which launch our favorite Control Panel applets, for example, the Network Connections (ncpa.cpl).  My other aim is to employ Search, and then ‘Save Search’ for all cpl files.

Topics for Search for .cpl files


Network Center – Case Study for .cpl

I have always sought to ‘Show network icon in the navigation tray’.  When I need to check the IP address, or add an entry for a different DNS server, it’s so handy to right-click an icon down on the Taskbar.  The alternative method of reaching the Network Center via the Start Button, Control Panel and Network Connection is too long-winded for my liking.

Instructions for creating a keyboard shortcut to ncpa.cplCreate a new shortcut for ncpa.cpl

In Vista you can right-click the network icon in the navigation area, but it does not take you directly to the Network Connections.  For this reason, I am going to create a keyboard shortcut to ncpa.cpl.

1) Right-click on the desktop

2) Click: New –> Shortcut

3) Type the location of the item: ncpa.cpl 
    (If necessary browse to Windows\system32)

4) Choose a suitable name, e.g. ‘Network Connection’
   (Rather than leaving the name as ncpa.cpl)

5) Right-click, select Properties and seek the dialog box called Shortcut Key.
    Simply over-type ‘None’ with the combination that suits you, for example:
    Ctrl +Shift +N.  Start by holding the Ctrl key, ‘None’ should change.How to add a shortcut to Vista Taskbar

6) Now you are ready to test my new keyboard shortcut, press Ctrl +Shift +N

7) The Network Connections folder should launch.

Option 1: Click on Change Icon, scroll through the pics
              Select an Icon that looks like a network

Option 2: Drag the Network shortcut on to the Taskbar.
             (See screenshot).

Somewhat like reverse engineering, I am finding that tips I discover for Vista also work for XP.  What is disconcerting is that I have been using XP (and Windows Server 2003) for years, without realizing that there lots of little tips and tweaks that I did not know existed.

See How to Create a Windows 8 Metro Tile From a Shortcut

Guy Recommends : SolarWinds’ Free VM MonitorSolarwinds VM Console Free Download

The best feature of this new this new version of SolarWinds VM Monitor is that it checks Windows Hyper-V.  Naturally, it still works with virtual machines on VMware ESX Servers.  VM Monitor is a clever desktop tool that not only tests that your server is online, but also displays the CPU and memory utilization for each node.

It’s easy to install and to configure this virtual machine monitor, all you need the host server’s IP address or hostname and the logon info. Give this virtual machine monitor a try – it’s free.

Download your free copy of SolarWinds VM Monitor.

No Text Label for Shortcuts

When I showed this NCPA idea to my old friend ‘Mad’ Mick, he surprised me – again.  He said, ‘Guy, your idea is not bad, but I want just the Network Connection icon; I don’t want any text label.  After a quick search of the internet, I discovered that if you rename any icon as a blank character, which corresponds to ASCII decimal 255, then to all intents and purposes, eureka, it removes the text label from the shortcut.

At the risk of teaching my grandfathers to suck eggs, as you rename the icon, hold down the left Alt key while you type 255 on the numeric keyboard.  When I showed ‘Mad’ Mick this tip, he could not get it to work.  It transpired that he was pressing the right Alt Gr key (should be the LEFT Alt), and he had his Num Lock off (should be ON).  To compound matters, Mick was trying my tip on his Laptop; it turned out that to activate the keypad on a Sony Vaio, you need to press the FN key, while selecting the appropriate key with a funny little blue number.

Searches for *.cpl

My master plan is to research other Control Panel applets, I would like to persuade you to create more shortcuts.  I have an interesting challenge for you, master the ‘Save Search’ method.  Firstly, let us employ Vista’s Search to track down all the .cpl files.  Once you launch the Vista Explorer, there is hardly anytime when you cannot see ‘Search’.  Merely enter *.cpl in the Search dialog box and press the

Secondly, be aware that new in Vista is the ability to save the results of a Search, moreover, each user has their own Searches folder to store such file lists.  Once Search returns all the cpl files, click on Save Search, my favoured destination would be the username’s ‘Searches’ folder.  In the screen shot below ‘pauline’ is that username, and the name for the search is CPL.

Vista Searches

Naturally, this is but one example of Vista’s Searches.  I urge you to get into the habit of creating these ‘Virtual’ folders or Searches for other collections of your files.

Guy Recommends:  A Free Trial of the Network Performance Monitor (NPM)Review of Orion NPM v11.5 v11.5

SolarWinds’ Orion performance monitor will help you discover what’s happening on your network.  This utility will also guide you through troubleshooting; the dashboard will indicate whether the root cause is a broken link, faulty equipment or resource overload.

What I like best is the way NPM suggests solutions to network problems.  Its also has the ability to monitor the health of individual VMware virtual machines.  If you are interested in troubleshooting, and creating network maps, then I recommend that you try NPM now.

Download a free trial of Solarwinds’ Network Performance Monitor

Ten more useful .CPL files

  1. Appwiz.cpl (Programs and Features replaces Add or Remove Programs)

  2. Collab.cpl (People Near Me)

  3. Firewall.cpl

  4. Hdwwiz.cpl  (Add Hardware Wizard)

  5. Intl.cpl (Regional Settings)

  6. Mmsys.cpl (Sound)  Also Setasio.cpl.

    [NCPA.cpl] (Network Connections – see above)

  7. Powercfg.cpl (Power Settings)

  8. Sysdm.cpl (System Properties)

  9. Telephon.cpl

  10. Wscui.cpl  (Windows Security Console)

Apply my technique of creating a desktop shortcut, to another of these .cpl files.  If you like your new shortcut to a Control Panel applet, then drag its icon onto the Taskbar.

Summary of Windows .cpl files

One feature of Vista is that it has more menus, and those menus have more sub-menus.  Consequently favorite settings can be more than three clicks away, hence the idea of creating literally a shortcut.

Here is a chance to kill two birds with one stone.  Gain experience of Vista’s Save Search, while creating a Network Connection icon on the Taskbar.  This page will also show you the relationship between the Control Panel applets and Vista’s .cpl files.

If you like this page then please share it with your friends


Configuring Windows Vista Topics:


     Vista Tools and Extras


   Tweak the Registry ebook

Download Your Tweak the Registry Ebook for only $6.45

This ebook will explain the workings of the registry.  I thoroughly enjoy tweaking the registry, and I want to distill the best of my experiences and pass them on to you.

Each registry tweak has two aims; to solve a specific problem, and to provide general learning points, which help you to master regedit. 

Over 60 pages ebook and PDF format