WRITING AND SOFTWARE BY IAN SHARPE

YourCPL – take control of Control Panel

This Control Panel applet makes it possible to add any program you like, as if it were an applet itself

WARNING: YourCPL is old software due for retirement or a rewrite. It is incompatible with Windows 8. Sort of works with Windows 7 and probably Vista too. Plays nicely with golden oldies like XP and earlier. I do not know if it has a future – see note at bottom of page.

Some programs belong in Control Panel, being configuration tools, but are not supplied in the special format required to be Control Panel applets.

Applets are a special type of DLL written in a way that Windows recognises and interacts with and lists in the Control Panel folder.

YourCPL is a Control Panel applet designed to extract information from normal programs and a configuration file, and present it to Windows. The combination of ordinary program and generic applet enables anything that can be put on a command line to be represented in Control Panel.

Image showing Regedit added to Control Panel

In the above screen shot you can see that I have added Regedit.exe in Windows XP.

Copy YourCPL.cpl and YourCPLconfig.txt to the Windows system folder:

\Windows\System on most Win9x and ME systems
\WinNT\System32 on NT/2000
\Windows\System32 on XP

Edit YourCPLconfig.txt with Notepad. Lines that start with a semicolon are ignored:

; This is a comment

Note that the ; must be the first character on the line.

Other lines specify one program each, in the following format. This is one long line wrapped round:

Path to program[press Tab key]
  Icon caption (31 characters max.)[press Tab key]
  Descriptive text (63 characters max.)[press Tab key]
  Command line arguments

So that will be one line when you type it in. Command line arguments are optional. All other fields are obligatory.

Examples are given in the text files in the download package along with further comments, troubleshooting tips and special notes for Windows 7.

YourCPL outdated, needs rewriting

I wrote YourCPL for an old version of Windows in which Control Panel looked different. Control Panel applets had to be created in a particular way and YourCPL does exactly that.

Things have changed. Control Panel is structured differently and the old way of building applets has been superseded by one that looks simpler and more sensible. The old method can be made to work, certainly up to Windows 7, but it's a dead end and may be incompatible with Windows 8.

YourCPL is therefore obsolete for modern versions of Windows. If it is to survive in some form, it will have to be re-thought, re-written and gain a user interface.

I don't know if I will get round to it. If I do, this is a note to myself: the current documentation on implementing Control Panel items is at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/cc144185(v=vs.85).aspx.

But I want it NOW!

Well if you are desperate but cannot find an alternative and do not want to hire someone, Google finds pages that tell how to put a standard executable file in Control Panel by means of registry edits. I haven't tested this so I am not providing links. However, the approach seems to agree with Microsoft's current Control Panel documentation.

Downloads

Version 1.2, June 2005

Compatibility Win 98, Me, 2K, XP, Vista, 7. Not Windows 8

Description / note Windows 7 with caveats. See the instructions.

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