Control Panel was the defacto home for all settings and options until Windows 8. After that, Microsoft introduced Settings app, however, Control Panel continues to be part of recent Windows versions like 10 and 11. Now, Windows users are confused. Some options have moved from Control Panel to Settings while some are available on both. So between Control Panel and Settings, which one should you use and why? How do Control Panel and Settings differ?
Table of Contents
What Is Happening
The idea is to deprecate Control Panel in the long term and replace it completely with Settings. That’s the broad view and Microsoft is slowly working towards it. However, like all products, there is a slow transition period where users are given an opportunity to get familiar with the new Settings app. You can call it soft transition or soft onboarding.
Microsoft also gets an ample amount of time to test features, remove ones that are no longer needed, add new ones, and collect feedback. So it makes sense to push Control Panel aside slowly in favor of Settings rather than in a single update.
Control Panel vs Settings
Here is how the classic Control Panel that you grew up with differs from the new and shiny Settings app.
Control Panel has been part of Windows since version 1 which was released all those years ago. The UI has not changed much since then and looks dated, boring, and difficult to navigate.
The Settings app was released with Windows 8 and was designed with touchscreen monitors in mind. It works equally well with input devices like mouse and keyboard. The UI is modern, fluid, and functional making it easy to use and find what you are looking for.
You will notice that Settings sports a dual-pane window which removes the need to go back and forth while navigating the menu. Saves time too.
Personalization settings like themes, wallpaper, account profiles, and network profiles like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc., have been moved to the Settings app. However, some advanced options like privacy and security and Windows updates are also part of the Settings app.
In short, these are options and settings that you would use on a regular basis.
Control Panel, on the other hand, houses more advanced settings that you would need to perform complex actions. Some of them include BitLocker encryption, managing storage space and recovery options, file history and indexing, hardware, and sound settings.
These are settings that you wouldn’t need to use or interact with on a daily basis.
Overlaps and Commonalities
However, the confusion begins here. For one, there are many options and settings that have been moved from Control Panel to Settings. And two, many settings are available in both Control Panel and Settings confusing the users further. Again, which one to use and why?
Here are some examples of settings that are available in both Control Panel and Settings.
- uninstall apps
- change date and time settings
- some network settings
- some personalization options like fonts
However, sometimes when you try to open an option or setting in the Control Panel, Windows will open it in the Settings app instead. So if you want to make changes to your user account in Control Panel under User accounts > User accounts > Make changes to my account and you will be redirected to Settings > Accounts > Info instead.
Similarly, if you try to make changes in Control Panel’s Taskbar and Navigation section, Windows will open the Personalization window in the Settings app. This may confuse you and make you wonder where a particular option is or whether you are supposed to use Control Panel or Settings app as your daily driver.
Settings or Control Panel: Which One to Use
This brings us to the final question. Between the two, which one should you use and why? The answer is obvious.
You should use Settings because sooner or later, Control Panel will be deprecated and done for good. More and more features from Control Panel are making their way to the Settings app. It makes no sense to continue clinging to the past.
Control Panel vs Settings
Settings is the future and while it is unclear when Microsoft will pull the plug on Control Panel on Windows, it will happen nonetheless. It is a matter of when and not if. You don’t really need to use Control Panel in your day-to-day dealings with the OS anyway. Settings has a better UI, and useful features that you actually need, and is here to stay.