How to access the System Control Panel on Windows 10

Windows 10, when it was first released, made it obvious that the Control Panel app would eventually be removed from the OS. The Settings app would take its place.

The Control Panel has been a part of Windows for a long time and it is home to an extensive list of settings. Phasing it out isn’t going to be easy and with Windows 10, Microsoft has been doing it piecemeal. 

If you’ve updated to the Windows 10 October 2020 update, the Control Panel System setting is no longer accessible. If you click it, it opens the Settings app instead.

Access System Control Panel 

Microsoft appears to have redirected the System item from the Control Panel. It hasn’t removed the setting though. Users are unable to access it directly but it is there, much like the Control Panel’s Personalization setting panel.

Run box

To access the System Control Panel from the run box, follow these steps.

  1. Tap the Win+R keyboard shortcut to open the run box. 
  2. In the run box, enter the following. 
explorer shell:::{BB06C0E4-D293-4f75-8A90-CB05B6477EEE}
  1. Tap the Enter key.

File Explorer

You can also access the System Control Panel settings from File Explorer.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Enter the following in the address bar.
explorer shell:::{BB06C0E4-D293-4f75-8A90-CB05B6477EEE}
  1. Tap Enter.

Desktop shortcut

The Run box and File Explorer method work but aren’t easy to use because you have to remember a long address that is not user-friendly. You can set up a shortcut that will open it directly.

  1. Go to your desktop.
  2. Right-click an empty area and select New>Shortcut.
  3. In the location field, enter the following.
explorer shell:::{BB06C0E4-D293-4f75-8A90-CB05B6477EEE}
  1. Click Next. 
  2. Rename the shortcut.
  3. Click Finish.
  4. Open the shortcut and it will open the System Control Panel.

Control Panel God mode

You can access a complete list of every single setting or app that Control Panel has if you open it in God mode.

  1. Create a new folder anywhere on your system.
  2. Select the folder and tap F2 to rename it to the following.
GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}
  1. Open this folder.
  2. File Explorer will open and list every single Control Panel item including the System Control Panel items.

Conclusion

The phasing out of the Control Panel still seems to be visual for the most part. Most settings that are removed are removed cosmetically. Functionally, they remain accessible and in some cases, they do not have alternative panels in the Settings app. This reflects on Microsoft’s poor planning and it tends to create problems for users who often cannot find how to change a setting on the OS.

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How to save username and password for network locations on Windows 10

Windows 10, like most modern operating systems, can connect to various devices on the network. This includes, but is not limited to other computers, network drivers, network printers, IP cameras, and more. 

In many cases, the network locations that are accessed have some form of security i.e. a password, which prevents unauthorized access to the devices. In order to access the device, the Windows 10 user will need to enter the correct username and password.

Assuming you have the right login credentials, you can access the network location but each time you access it, you will be prompted to enter the information again.

Save username and password for network locations

If you often access a network location on the network, and you have been given long-term access to it, entering the username and password each time you access it becomes annoying. It also takes up time.

Windows 10 has a credentials manager that can save the login information locally. When saved, all you have to do is double-click a network device, and it will open. Windows 10 will fetch the login information that’s saved and you’ll never be asked to enter it unless it changes.

Turn on network discovery

Before you can save the username and password for a network location, you must be able to access it. To do that, you have to enable network discovery on your Windows 10 system. 

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Go to Network and Internet.
  3. Select Network Sharing.
  4. In the column on the left, click ‘Advanced network sharing’.
  5. Under the Network Discovery section, enable the ‘Turn on network discovery” option.

Note: the system/device that you’re trying to access must be set to appear visible on the network.

Access network location 

With network discovery on, you can now access network locations, and in doing so, you can save the login information for various network locations.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. In the navigation column on the left, select Network. 
  3. Double-click the system you want to access.

  1. In the pop-up, enter the username and password for the system.
  2. Select the “Remember my credentials” options.
  3. Click OK.
  4. The location will open, and the login information will be saved in the Windows credentials manager. 

Network location credentials

The login credentials for a network location are not the ones that you use to login into your own system. Instead, they are set on the network location itself. In some cases, e.g., if you’re connected to an active directory, your own user credentials may be used to login to a network location however, that normally means you have an admin account on the AD. 

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How to turn off Caps On notification on Windows 10

No one keeps Caps on all the time. In fact, for many users, holding down the Shift key occasionally is more convenient than turning the Caps on and off. You might benefit from remapping the Caps key to a different function.

The physical Caps key on keyboards sometimes ‘lights up’ to indicate its On state or a light turns on somewhere on the keyboard to indicate that it is on. Much like these keyboard indicators, you might also see a Caps on notification on Windows 10.

Caps on notifications

The Caps On notification appears on the screen and it may look different than the one seen in the screenshot below. You may also see a notification for when you turn the num lock on/off.

Windows 10 does not show notifications for Caps on or off. If you’re seeing these notifications, it’s because of an app.

Turn off caps notification notifications

An app on your system is showing caps on/off notifications and unless you uninstall it, or turn this feature in the app off, they will continue to appear. 

1. Uninstall enhancement apps

PC manufacturers are normally responsible for this; they install utilities that show these notifications. 

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Go through the list of apps that are installed; look for an app from your laptop/desktop manufacturer.
  3. Select the app.
  4. Click the Uninstall button.
  5. Restart the system for good measure.

2. Turn off notifications form utilities

This again boils down to uninstalling apps that change how the keyboard works or try to improve it. Unfortunately, it’s not always a keyboard utility or an enhancement app that is responsible for the notification. 

  1. Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
  2. Go to System>Display.
  3. Click Advanced Display Settings.
  4. Click Display adapter properties.

  1. Go to the Screen configuration tab or the ‘On Screen Display’ tab.
  2. Uncheck the ‘Enable on screen display’ option.
  3. Click Apply.

Note: This setting may not appear on all devices. If you have a Lenovo PC, try this out.

3. Check advanced keyboard settings

If you’re unable to find the app that’s responsible for the caps lock notification, check the keyboard settings.

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Go to Hardware and Sound.
  3. Click Keyboard.
  4. Go to the Advanced keyboard settings tab.
  5. Look for and turn off the option for showing caps notifications.

Conclusion

Windows 10 doesn’t have a shortage of apps that can show a caps lock on or off notification. Users who need these notifications can take their pick. Lots of PC manufacturers push apps on to users and not many users are aware that they’re responsible for these notifications. 

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How to fix “SmartScreen can’t be reached right now” on Windows 10

Windows 10 proactively scans for and blocks threats to a system. It does this by scanning files that are downloaded or apps that are run. If you have browser control enabled in Windows Defender, malicious files that you download will be scanned and blocked before you can even look at them.

Windows 10 will check a file when it’s downloaded and copied, but the SmartScreen will also check to see if it’s signed or not when you try to run it. This normally happens for files that are executables or that can be extracted. 

Fix SmartScreen can’t be reached right now

SmartScreen will check files when you open/run them. Windows Defender will already have checked the file when it was downloaded but a second check will be done anyway.

In order to check the file, SmartScreen examines it for known markers of malicious files. These markers are always being updated to make sure new threats can be blocked. If you try to open/run an app, and see the “SmartScreen can’t be reached right now” error, here’s what you can do.

Check internet connection

SmartScreen works if you have an internet connection. Without an active internet connection, it can’t see the updated list of markers of a malicious file. 

  1. Click the WiFi icon in the system tray.
  2. Look for your network in the panel.
  3. It should say ‘Connected, Secured’ or ‘Connected, Internet’ under it. If it doesn’t, you do not have internet access.

Check SmartScreen service status

SmartScreen is a service; it runs on the desktop but needs to communicate with an online server to work. If the server is down, you will see the “SmartScreen can’t be reached right now” error if your internet is working.

Unfortunately, there’s no go-to status page for the service. You’re going to have to check online forums, and various Microsoft Twitter accounts to check if the service is down. 

Toggle SmartScreen

SmartScreen can run into problems and toggling it Off and On can fix them.

  1. Open Windows Defender.
  2. Go to App and browser control.
  3. Click Reputation-based protection settings. 
  4. Turn the “Check apps and files” switch off.
  5. Restart the system.
  6. Return to Windows Defender and turn the “Check apps and files” switch back on.
  7. Open the file and SmartScreen will scan it.

Turn off proxies and VPN

A proxy or a VPN should not interfere with the SmartScreen but there are always exceptions. If you’ve configured a proxy on Windows 10, or you’re using a VPN, turn them off and try to open the file.

Scan with VirusTotal

If the SmartScreen still isn’t working, you can try scanning the file with VirusTotal though it works only for exectuables.

  1. Visit VirustTotal.
  2. Click Choose File.
  3. Upload the file.
  4. Once the initial results are displayed, click the refresh arrow button on VirusTotal to run a fresh scan.
  5. If the file is safe, by-pass SmartScreen and open it.

By-pass SmartScreen

SmartScreen is conservative when it comes to blocking files. It will block anything for seemingly harmless reasons. 

While this is generally a good thing i.e., you want your antivirus to be overly cautious, it can sometimes be ignored. If you know the file is safe, by-pass SmartScreen.

  1. Double-click the file you want to run.
  2. On the “SmartScreen can’t be reached right now” screen, click Run Anyway.
  3. The file will open.

Conclusion

SmartScreen problems are rarely long-term. If the service has never worked since you installed Windows 10 or it stopped working after an update, you may need to roll the update back, wait for a patch update, or consider creating a new user. 

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How to install a custom keyboard layout on Windows 10

Windows 10 has a long list of keyboard layouts that a user can add to their system. These layouts cater to multiple languages including Mandarin and Arabic, and they are available for all types of keyboards.

Installing a keyboard layout on Windows 10 is easy; all you have to do is select one from a list and it will be added. Users can switch between keyboard layouts on the fly with a keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+Shift).

Custom keyboard layouts

Windows 10 keyboard layouts are all preset and they cannot be edited. In order to get a custom keyboard layout, you either have to download it or create one yourself.

Create keyboard layout

Creating a keyboard layout is easy but time-consuming since every single key has to be mapped individually. Try to find a ready-made keyboard layout if you can. If a ready-made keyboard layout isn’t available, you’ll have to make the layout yourself.

  1. Download the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator.
  2. Run the app and tap each key, one-by-one.
  3. Select the key you want to map to it.
  4. Map the entire keyboard.
  5. Go to Project>Build DLL and Setup Package.
  6. Save the layout.

Install custom keyboard layout

A keyboard layout, whether it’s custom made with the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator or if you’ve downloaded it yourself, is going to be an executable file or an installer file. Installing it is as easy as installing any app.

  1. Open File Explorer and navigate to the EXE or MSI file for the keyboard layout.
  2. Run the file.
  3. Grant the app admin permission to install (The keyboard is installed for the current language).

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to Time & Language.
  3. Select the Language tab.
  4. Select the current language.
  5. Click the keyboard button under it.
  6. The current and new keyboard layout will be listed. Remove the one you do not want to use.

Conclusion

Keyboard layouts for commonly spoken languages like English are more common. If you need to type in a language that doesn’t have many layouts available, or you need to set the keys up in a layout that you can’t find in any configuration, a custom layout is the best alternative. 

It’s worth mentioning that if you only need to change one or two keys, you can do with remapping them instead of creating a custom layout. Remapping tools like AutoHotKey and PowerToys are good options. If you remove the layout at any point, you can still use the MSI or the EXE file for it to install it again.

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