Kung Fu for SysAdmins: Windows 7 made easy

Back when I was in IT trade school I was taught a really valuable lesson in how to make your life a bit easier as an administrator; one of my instructors walked up to my computer, unplugged my mouse, and said “now do what you were supposed to, just without the mouse.”

At the time I was like “what a dick”, but since then, I’ve really come to appreciate the lesson he was getting at: shit happens, and sometimes it is just faster to do it without a mouse.

So I keep hearing about how people making the transition directly from Windows XP to Windows 7 are going to have trouble (granted, the issues mentioned are minor) adjusting to some of the changes Microsoft has made to where settings are located. I would argue that only people who haven’t put in the effort to learn the correct way to access these settings are going to have issues.

Let me elaborate. One of the common complaints I hear from fellow administrators about Windows 7 is that the setting to change folder options is now more difficult to find. It’s been changed from Windows Explorer>Tools>Folder Options>View Tab, to Windows Explorer>Organize>Folder and Search Options. Sure you could pop open google and find instructions in relatively little time, or you could do it the correct way from the start (which works on all versions of Windows since XP): Run>Control Folders>View Tab (in XP).

This is not the only thing that can be accessed using Windows Control Commands either. See if like me, you have been using this method since Windows 2000 (or there abouts), this was never an issue (this particular setting actually changed in Vista, but many people have opted to skip Vista and go directly to Windows 7).

Here is a list of some of the things you can access in Windows without the mouse (type these at a Run Prompt):

  • control = Opens the Control Panel Window
  • control admintools = Opens the Administrative Tools
  • control keyboard = Opens the Keyboard Properties Window
  • control color = Opens the Display Properties (at the Appearance Tab in Windows 7)
  • control folders = Opens the Folder Options Window
  • control fonts = Opens the Font Policy Management Window
  • control international (or intl.cpl) = Opens Regional and Language Options
  • control mouse (or main.cpl) Opens mouse properties
  • control userpasswords = Opens the User Accounts Editor
  • control userpasswords2 (or netplwiz) = Opens User Account Access Restrictions
  • control printers = Opens the Printers and Faxes Window
  • control desktop (Windows Vista/7 only) = Opens Control Panel>Personalization
  • appwiz.cpl = Opens the Add or Remove Programs Utility
  • optionalfeatures = opens the Add or Remove Windows Component utility
  • desk.cpl = Opens the Display Properties (Themes Tab)
  • hdwwiz.cpl = Opens the Add Hardware Wizard
  • irprops.cpl = Opens the Infrared utility (does nothing if no IR devices are installed)
  • joy.cpl = Opens  Game Controller Settings
  • mmsys.cpl = Opens the Sound and Audio device properties window (Volume Tab)
  • sysdm.cpl = Opens the System Properties window
  • telephon.cpl = Opens the Phone and Modem options window
  • timedate.cpl = Opens the Date and Time Properties window
  • wscui.cpl = Opens the Windows Security Center in XP (opens the Action Center in Windows Vista/7)
  • access.cpl = Opens the Accessibility Options Window (does not work in Windows 7)
  • wuaucpl.cpl = Opens Automatic Updates
  • powercfg.cpl = Opens the Power Options Properties window
  • ncpa.cpl = Opens the Network Connections window
  • bthprops.cpl = Opens the Bluetooth Control window (does nothing if no bluetooth devices are installed)
  • certmgr.msc = Opens the Certificate Management MMC
  • compmgmt.msc = Opens the Computer Management
  • comexp.msc (or dcomcnfg) = Opens the Computer Services MMC
  • devmgmt.msc = Opens Device Manager
  • diskmgmt.msc = Opens Disk Management
  • eventvwr.msc (or eventvwr) = Opens the Event Viewer
  • fsmgmt.msc = Opens Shared Folders
  • napclcfg.msc = Opens the NAP client configuration tool
  • services.msc = Opens Service Manager
  • taskschd.msc (or control schedtasks) = Opens the Task Scheduler
  • gpedit.msc = Opens the Group Policy MMC
  • lusrmgr.msc = Opens Local Users and Groups
  • secpol.msc = Opens the Local Security Settings window
  • ciadv.msc = Opens the Indexing Service Window
  • ntmsmgr.msc = Opens the Removable Storage Manager
  • ntmsoprq.msc = Opens the Removable Storage Operator Requests
  • wmimgmt.msc = Opens the WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) window
  • perfmon.msc (or perfmon) = Opens the Performance Monitor
  • mmc = Opens a blank Microsoft Management Console
  • mdsched = Opens the Memory Diagnostics tools
  • dxdiag = Opens DirectX diagnostics tools
  • odbcad32 = Opens the ODBC Data Source Administration window
  • regedit (or regedt32) = Opens the Registry Editor (these commands actually open different Registry editors, google for the differences)
  • drwtsn32 = Opens Dr. Watson
  • verifier = Opens the Driver Verification Manager
  • cliconfg = Opens the SQL Server Client Network Utility
  • utilman = Opens the Utility Manager (in Windows 7 this opens the Ease Of Access Center)
  • msconfig = Opens the System Configuration Utility
  • sysedit = Opens the System Configuration Editor
  • syskey = Opens the Windows Account Database Security Manager
  • explorer = Opens Windows Explorer
  • iexplorer = Opens Internet Explorer
  • wab = Opens the Windows Address Book
  • charmap = Opens the Character Map
  • write = Opens Wordpad

Now these are not the only things you can type at a run command to get results, but I find that those more than cover most activities you will likely need to do on a day to day basis.

I would say that I find myself using only 10-15 of those commands on any kind of a regular basis. You may only need 4-5 regularly, or none at all. Everyone does things differently, however I have found these commands to be the only thing that stays constant over several versions of the Windows OS. So for me, it takes the Least Amount Of Administrative Effort to simply use these commands.

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