In this installment of our Windows 8 Guide series, I’ll be showing how to use the Windows 8 Modern UI control panel and “Settings” app. Windows 8 has been so dramatically redesigned that even the control panel has seen significant changes. Microsoft had the foresight to include the traditional Windows control panel as well as a more modern, simplified control panel for its touch-centric Modern UI.
Although it is nice of Microsoft to include both types of control panels to modify settings, it can be a jarring experience as not all options are shared between the two. The Settings app for the Modern UI will feature settings for personalization, notifications, and more Modern UI enhancements while the traditional Control Panel in the desktop mode of Windows 8 features more technical features like enabling BitLocker and File History.
To get to either control panel quickly, activate the Windows Charms either by dragging your mouse to the right corners or hitting ‘Windows’ + ‘C.’ For a full list of mouse and keyboard shortcuts for Windows 8, read out handy guide here.
Clicking ‘Control Panel’ will take you the traditional Windows control panel, which remains unchanged for the most part. Clicking on ‘Change PC settings’ on the bottom right will take you to the new Settings app in the Modern UI.
You will then find many options in the Settings app. You can personalize your lock screen, start screen, and account picture. There are also tons of options that are focused on the Modern UI including controlling notifications, search results, and sharing. There is also a handy section for viewing which applications take up the most space. This will be very handy on Windows 8 hardware with limited storage space.
For the more touch oriented option, the Settings apps allows you to toggle options and applications. This summary view with toggles gives a good quick way to quickly review what apps are allowed to do.
There is also the option to “refresh” your PC, which saves all of your documents, music, photos, and settings while reverting all settings to default and uninstalling all apps that aren’t from the Windows Store. If your computer is in even worse condition, there is an option to wipe everything and reinstall Windows.
For those with disabilities, Microsoft has made an effort to put Ease of Access settings more upfront in the Modern UI Settings app. Here you can toggle high contrast, make things bigger, and enable narration.
Even though using two control panel options in Windows 8 may be a bit disorienting, I believe most of the settings that the casual user wants to access can be found in the Modern UI Settings app. Settings are well laid out with informative labels so finding what you want to change should be a breeze. The traditional Windows Control Panel will stick around for the more technically inclined with a more cluttered and text heavy interface.