Windows has never made it easy to find the tool or setting you need, and with options now split between “old” and “new” “Control Panels”, it can seem more difficult than ever.
Ultimate Settings Panel is a once-commercial, now free tool which makes just about every Windows applet, settings panel or tool accessible from a single place.
The interface is, well, basic. It’s just a set of tabs, each of which has a collection of flat blue buttons to launch a particular applet or tool.
The tabs include Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Advanced, Control Panel, Outlook, Command Output, Server Administration, Powershell, Shutdown Options, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.
Clicking “Windows 10” revealed 48 buttons covering key settings (Display, User Accounts), deeply buried tools (Windows Repair Disc, Credential Manager), regular Windows 10 apps (Photos, Store), common items you might want to launch while the program is open (Explorer, WordPad) and items like “Control Panel” or “Management Console” to cover everything else.
The “Windows Advanced” and “Control Panel” tabs have more generic options, with buttons for launching various Control Panel applets, Windows Defender, Task Manager, Regedit and more.
The application-oriented tabs – Outlook, IE, Firefox, Chrome – are mostly about launching those programs with specific command-line settings. You can fire up Outlook in Safe Mode if it’s not starting normally, for instance, or launch Firefox or Chrome straight into a private browsing session.
The “Command Output” tab is more interesting, as it runs common command-line tasks and displays the results in a text window. You’re able to launch IPConfig, Netstat or other tools with a click, see the results immediately, and copy them to the clipboard with a click.
A handful of other tabs enables access to common server admin tools, launching PowerShell or shutting down your PC in various ways.
One problem with Ultimate Settings Panel is it seems to have no intelligence at all. Not running Windows Server? You’ll get the “Server Admin” tab anyway. Don’t have the Group Policy Editor? You’ll still have the button. The program doesn’t adapt its offerings to match your system, so you’re always faced with more tabs and buttons than you need.
The sheer volume of options can make it tricky to track down some applets, too, especially as they’re not organised or grouped very well, there’s no way to reorganise the buttons, and not even a search tool.
Despite that, Ultimate Settings Panel may be useful in some situations. Just leaving the Windows 10 tab open gives you quick access to many key system tools, and you may find a few you didn’t know about before.
Ultimate Settings Panel is a free application for Windows 7 and later.