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
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.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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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Appwiz.cpl (Programs and Features replaces Add or Remove Programs)
Collab.cpl (People Near Me)
Hdwwiz.cpl (Add Hardware Wizard)
Intl.cpl (Regional Settings)
Mmsys.cpl (Sound) Also Setasio.cpl.
[NCPA.cpl] (Network Connections – see above)
Powercfg.cpl (Power Settings)
Sysdm.cpl (System Properties)
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.
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Configuring Windows Vista Topics:
Vista Tools and Extras