It seems like Microsoft hides the ugly-but-entirely-useful Control Panel just a little bit deeper in every new version of Windows. With Windows 10, you’ll be able to change most but not all of your PC’s settings in the new Settings menu, which you can access from the new Start menu as an app.
For those of you running Windows 8.1, Windows 10’s Settings menu is a more robust, more Control Panel-like version of the Settings charm. In the new Settings menu, you’ll find some familiar prompts: System, Devices, Network & Internet, Personalization, Accounts, Time & language, Ease of Access, Privacy, and Update & recovery.
Let’s take a look at the System icon, which is where you’ll be able to do a lot — but again, not all — of your system setup:
The first thing I always look for in a System tab is the actual system info, which you can find by clicking About. Here you’ll see your PC’s basic specs, including processor, memory, and operating system info, as well as what edition of Windows you’re running.
You can check your PC’s storage space by clicking Storage Sense, which shows you your different drives (including partitions and external hard drives), and also lets you choose default save locations for different file types (“apps and games,” “documents,” “music,” “pictures,” and “videos”). Apps and games will always need to be saved to your PC, but other file types can be saved to external drives by default.
If you need to free up space, the System tab does bring Windows 8.1’s App sizes right to the front of the menu, where you can see your apps, how much space they’re taking up on your machine, and uninstall them with one click. At the moment you can’t uninstall any of the default apps (all of which suspiciously take up 0 bytes of space), but that will likely change when Windows 10 hits the market.
System is also where you’ll go to set up some of your basic PC options, including changing (some) display settings, changing (some) power options, choosing default apps for different file types and protocols, and delving into Windows 10’s “Windowing” (read: Aero Snap) and sharing features.
You can also set up the new Windows 10 Notifications center by clicking Notifications, where you’ll be able to select which icons appear on the task bar, and toggle different app notifications on and off. You can also go into an Advanced menu for most of the apps, but all you’ll really see here is a toggle for turning notifications banners on and off.
Clicking Display will take you to a limited display menu that’s slightly more robust than Windows 8.1’s display menu, and similar to Windows 7‘s Screen Resolution menu. Here you can change the zoom (enlarge text, icons, and other items), orientation, resolution, and turn automatic brightness adjustment on and off.
You can’t change your desktop wallpaper, though — that’s in the Personalization menu. The Power options menu is also extremely limited, with options for choosing when your computer sleeps and when the screen turns off, but no link to more advanced settings (such as different power plans/profiles)
The other new System settings you’re probably interested in: Cortana & search, which is sort of a lie (click on one of the links in this menu, and Windows 10 will simply open up Cortana’s settings…in Cortana). Sharing is where you’ll be able to set default sharing options, like how many sharing apps appear in your default list (between 1 and 20), Maps lets you download offline maps for when you’re offline, and Optional features is where you can add supplemental fonts and handwriting recognition in different languages.
If you’re just looking to mix up a few of your PC’s settings, the System menu is okay — but you’ll find very few advanced options unless you go into the Control Panel, which still exists (you just have to search for it). While I appreciate the fact that Microsoft is trying to make PC settings a bit more user- and touch-friendly, a link to the Control Panel or to more advanced options (such as advanced power settings) certainly wouldn’t add too much extra clutter.