What do you know about using commands in Windows Vista? Solve this month's Reader Challenge, and you might win a prize!

Take the May 2009 Reader Challenge:
A reader named Barney from Massachusetts wrote with the following complaint: "Before Vista, I opened the control panel apps I used often by using the name of the *.cpl file for the applet I needed in the Run command. Vista seems to have more control panel applets than previous versions of Windows, and the *.cpl names aren't available in the Help files.

In fact, the Help files just contain a link to open these applets instead of telling you what the names are. There must be an easier way to get to the applets I view or change frequently via a command (I prefer to use the command line rather than create and use program shortcuts)."

Going directly to Control Panel applets via commands in Windows Vista is indeed different. And, I agree with Barney about the way Help files work, not just with Control Panel applets, but with many system functions.

I prefer Help files that tell me where to find something; the Vista "click this link and open the dialog" paradigm means I have to wait for Help to open and drill down to find that link every time I want to get to some hard-to-find function.

However, the good news for command-line fans is that it's actually easier to use a command in Vista than in previous versions of Windows. As a certified command-line junkie, I use this method myself. What instructions did I send to Barney to open Control Panel applets via a command?

How to Play:
Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to challenge@windowsitpro.com by May 26, 2009. You MUST include your full name, street mailing address (no P.O. Boxes), and a telephone number. Without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win, so your answer is eliminated, even if it’s correct.

I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. I’m a sucker for humor and originality, and a cleverly written correct answer gets an extra chance. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents, and I never respond to a request for an email receipt.

Look for the solutions to this month's problem on this page on May 27, 2009. 

April 2009 Reader Challenge Winner:
Congratulations to David Gilpin of Texas, the winner of our April 2009 Reader Challenge. He wins a copy of Windows Server 2008: The Definitive Guide , from O'Reilly Media. To see the answers to the April 2009 Reader Challenge, click here.

The Answer:

In Windows Vista, you use the "friendly" name (the name of the applet that appears on the listing in Control Panel and on the title bar) to open a Control Panel applet. Here's the syntax:

control.exe /name microsoft.XXXX

where XXXX is the "friendly name" you see in Control Panel.

For example, the command:

control.exe /name microsoft.TaskbarAndStartMenu

opens the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog. (The capitalization is for ease of reading; the command is not case sensitive.) For most people, this is easier to remember than using control.exe to call a .cpl name that is arcane and therefore more difficult to remember.

For your convenience, I've listed the friendly names at the end of this answer.

Note that you can also create shortcuts to Control Panel items by just right-click dragging the link in Control Panel to the desktop, or the QuickLaunch toolbar. You can also configure the Start menu to list Control Panel as a folder and display all the applets, but the list is long so you have to scroll.

Friendly Names for Control Panel Applets (syntax is: control.exe /name microsoft.friendlyname):
AddHardware
AdministrativeTools
AudioDevicesAndSoundThemes
AutoPlay
BackupAndRestoreCenter
BitLockerDriveEncryption
Bluetooth
CardSpace
ColorManagement
DateAndTime
DefaultPrograms
DeviceManager
EaseOfAccessCenter
FolderOptions
Fonts
GameControllers
GetPrograms
GetProgramsOnline
IndexingOptions
Infrared
InternetOptions
iSCSIInitiator
Keyboard
MobilityCenter
Mouse
NetworkAndSharingCenter
OfflineFiles
ParentalControls
PenAndInputDevices
PeopleNearMe
PerformanceInformationAndTools
Personalization
PhoneAndModemOptions
PowerOptions
Printers
ProblemReportsAndSolutions
ProgramsAndFeatures
RegionalAndLanguageOptions
ScannersAndCameras
SecurityCenter
SpeechRecognitionOptions
SyncCenter
System
TabletPCSettings
TaskbarAndStartMenu
TextToSpeech
UserAccounts
WelcomeCenter
WindowsAnytimeUpgrade
WindowsDefender
WindowsFirewall
WindowsSidebarProperties
WindowsSideShow
WindowsUpdate