Configure Windows: Where to find the most important menus and options

Configuring Windows means not only choosing graphic customizations, but also optimizing performance, keeping its main functions at hand, correcting problems that arise and controlling the overall functioning of the system.
Even if you don't need to be an IT expert, when you need to know where to go and what to look for, what are the menus with settings for configuring the system.
Let's see where to find the most important menus and options to configure Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, specifying what are the changes that can be done without problems and which ones would be better not to do if you are not an expert.
1) Control panel
The Control Panel is the starting point of Windows configurations.
In the Control Panel you configure the audio, video, system, devices, network connections, mouse, keyboard, printers, uninstall programs and everything that concerns the PC.
We have talked about this in many articles and you are almost forced to get your hands on it sooner or later, at least up to Windows 7.
On how to open the Windows Control Panel and its secrets we talked extensively in another article, also explaining how to use God Mode with all the Windows settings in a single folder.
The problem with the Control Panel is that it is so full of windows and menus that even an expert system administrator can find it difficult to find specific options.
For this reason Microsoft is trying, with every update of Windows 10, to transfer the Control Panel into the Settings application, which is much easier to use and understand.
2) PC settings
This is the simplified Windows configuration menu found only in Windows 10 and Windows 8.
To open this menu, you can press the Windows-I keys together or you can find it by right-clicking on the Start button or by opening the Start menu from the gear button.
You can then configure all System, External Devices, Network, Apps, Data and Language, Privacy and Security settings.
In another article, the guide to configure settings in Windows 10 .
3) System properties
System is a very important sub-menu of the control panel.
From here, you can configure the PC performance and especially the system recovery options, very important.
To this section I have dedicated a brief guide to understand and modify the advanced Windows system settings.
4) Device and driver management
Always from the Windows Control Panel you can access the list of hardware devices used by the PC, both internal and external.
When a device is not working properly or if there are problems with the drivers, the device management window is the first place to check.
Device management is a sensitive area where you shouldn't turn anything off unless you're sure what you're doing.
With Windows 10 this configuration menu has become less important because the drivers update automatically and even errors on external devices can be solved through the troubleshooting tool included with the system.
5) The registry editor
Windows, unlike Unix and Linux systems, is an operating system where all the general and program settings are stored in a centralized database called the Registry which contains thousands and thousands of valued keys.
Each option that is changed in the Windows menus then changes the value of a specific registry key and vice versa, if you change a key, then you change some internal function.
The more experienced can make changes to the system by changing the registry keys and therefore going beyond what is allowed to do from the Settings or from the Control Panel.
In general, no user, even an expert, should put his hand to the registry (because a wrong key can cause instability and errors) and unless changes are made for certain tricks to the Windows registry safe and described by reliable sites .
To open the registry you must write the Regedit command on the Run box.
6) Local Group Policy Editor
Only on Professional or higher versions of Windows there is a hidden section called the Local Group Editor which opens by looking for the gpedit.msc command in the Start menu.
This editor is a huge set of options to configure everything, absolutely everything, of Windows and customize the system inside it also in a profound way.
Unfortunately its complexity makes it rather difficult to use even for more experienced users.
In another article, we saw the simplified guide to using the Windows Local Group Policy editor (gpedit.msc).
7) The "Computer Management" administration tools
Computer Management is a settings menu for managing how Windows uses the hardware of the PC on which it is installed.
For example it is possible to manage PC disks, users, performances, event log and services.
In another article the guide to the "Computer Management" administration tools in Windows
8) Services
Explaining Windows services is quite simple, they are nothing but programs that operate in the background.
To open the services management you need to run the services.msc command in the Run box (press Windows - R keys together to make it appear).
Unfortunately, the description of the services is quite confusing and therefore, if you are not an expert, it is not so simple to understand which is needed and which is not.
In general, however, this is a part of Windows where you can also test and any changes can always be brought back.
In another article, the list of services that can be disabled on Windows, without consequences.
9) Activity Management
The task management menu is the one known as the Windows Task Manager, where it is often the case to manage active processes and unlock the PC by terminating the processes that block it.
The Windows 10 Task Manager is much more complete than previous versions and also allows you to manage startup items.
To open the Windows task manager just press the CTRL-Shift-ESC keys together.
10) Menu to customize the desktop
This is the configuration panel best known even by the less experienced, where you can change the background and appearance of the windows as you see fit.
To access it, just press the right button on the empty space of the desktop and then click on Customize .
In Windows 10 this menu is gone, replaced by the Customization options in the Settings app.
11) System configuration
Despite the name, the System Configuration window is not essential to know and use it unless specific needs are met; it is mostly a residue of the old versions of Windows, now almost superfluous.
To open System Configuration you can type the msconfig command in the Run box or search for System Configuration in the Start menu.
The most important part of this configuration window is that of the boot options, which can be used to solve Windows problems and have a clean, safe and error-free boot.
In any case, if you make wrong changes or configurations, there are different ways to reset Windows by returning to the initial settings and to return the computer to its original state

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