CompTIA A+ Exam 220-902 sub-objective 1.5: Given a scenario, use Windows Control Panel utilities

Detailed (and official) description of CompTIA A+ sub-objective 1.5

1.5 Given a scenario, use Windows Control Panel utilities.
> Internet Options
Display/Display Settings
Color depth
Refresh rate
User accounts
> Folder options
View hidden files
Hide extensions
General options
View options
> System
Performance (virtual memory)
Remote settings
System protection
> Windows firewall
> Power options
Power plans
> Programs and features
> HomeGroup
> Devices and Printers
> Sound
> Troubleshooting
> Network and Sharing
> Device Manager

Welcome to ExamNotes by CertBlaster! In this installment we will look at the Windows Control Panel Utilities. As usual we will follow along with your exam objectives for 1.5 “Given a scenario, use Windows Control Panel utilities”.

Screenshot of Windows Control Panel
Windows Control Panel

Internet Options

Internet options is your primary tool for managing the settings for your Internet Explorer. Access it using the Internet Options applet in Control Panel Classic view. Always save your changes when using this tool. We’ll start by looking at the main or general tab of the interface.

Screenshot of Internet Options General tab
Internet Options – General tab

General tab

The General tab is where you can set your default homepage, how the browser opens, control how your browser tabs operate and most importantly control your browsing history, cookies, passwords and web form entries. You’ll also find the appearance settings here for Colors. Languages, Fonts and Accessibility.

Screenshot of Internet Options General tab
Internet Options – General tab

Security tab

The Security Tab is how you maintain the settings for each of your four internet zones. The zones can have their security set from medium to high. Here is where you can enable or disable Protected Mode. Remember if you make changes, save them by clicking OK or Apply.

Screenshot of Internet Options Security tab
Internet Options – Security tab

Connections tab

The Connections tab is where you can set up your network connections. Dial-up VPN or local LAN settings are handled here.

Privacy tab

The Privacy tab to control the level of access cookies have to your machine. It can be set from allow all to block all. You will find your best fit between functionality and safety. You can choose to block popups here and block sites from discovering your location.

Screenshot of Internet Options Privacy tab
Internet Options – Privacy tab

Programs tab

The Programs tab allows you to define your default web browser and also allow or block add-ons or Plug-ins used to accelerate multimedia performance including Active X features.

Screenshot of Internet Options Programs tab
Internet Options – Programs tab

Advanced Tab

The last entry we’ll cover in Internet Options Advanced Tab. This tab has very effective controls and can really dial in the performance of your browser. However it is just as easy to crash the browser in here, so be careful and consider what you are doing. Should you happen to crash the browser you can reset it to defaults here and try again!

Screenshot of Internet Options Advanced tab
Internet Options – Advanced tab

Display/Display Settings

The next Control Panel utility we will look at is the Display applet. When the interface launches the first item selected is Color Calibration. Clicking this allows you to optimize the color of your display (s) using the Color Calibration Wizard. You start by optimizing the gamma, then move on to brightness and contrast. Finally you adjust the color balance, clear type settings and you are set.

Display Main

Screenshot of Display Main
Display Main

Display ClearType wizard

Screenshot of Display ClearType tuner
Display ClearType tuner


Next clicking on the Screen resolution shows any displays that are connected. This window displays and allows modifications to the Resolution and orientation of the displays. Resolution identified the size and scale of the display and is expressed by a pair of numbers. The first value is the number of pixels that are displayed across the screen and the second value is the screen height in pixels. This will leave you with an expression like 1680×1050. This is the recommended resolution for the monitor shown. Use the recommended settings as a rule.

Screenshot of Display Resolution and Refresh
Display Resolution and Refresh

Refresh rate & Color depth

The image shows this window with the Advanced features displayed where you can see the refresh rate and color depth. The refresh rate is the number of times per second the screen can be completely overwritten this number will be 60Hz or higher or 60 times a second. The human eye cannot perceive rates of 60Hz and higher so the graphics appear fluid and smooth. The color depth should be as high as your hardware cab support, In this case the monitor can support True Color at 32 bits. Some manufacturers use their own drivers and control program geared specifically to their hardware and this may perform better than the Windows based interface. Either one will work.

screenshot of OEM graphics control panel resolution
OEM graphics control panel resolution

User accounts

A Windows workstation can create two account types for new users Standard or Administrator. When creating users it is best to make them Standard. They can be added to Groups if they need additional privileges. A user is created from control panel by clicking the User Accounts applet. This opens an Account wizard which initially requires the user email address and password. If you do not have this info, that page can be skipped and you can create an account with just a username and password that you create. The password can and should be changed by the user when they first access the machine. Once the user is setup on their machine they have the option to create a Single sign-on Microsoft account which gives them Cloud access to online storage and more. Other vendors offer similar services.

Folder options

Folder options or File Explorer Options Depending your Windows version one of these utilities is used to handle folder operations. View options can be used to display hidden files that are invisible to the standard user and are usually system files that the user can only do harm with.. A filename as you know consists of the file name plus an extension such as .exe or .doc. By default Windows hides these extensions which file naming and renaming difficult as you may end up with a file with multiple extensions. View options allows you to show the full filename and extension. This setting is also on the View tab. The General Options lets you determine whether or not you want multiple windows when browsing the filesystem. Also General Options lets you control file opening behavior and the items displayed on the navigation pane.


The System properties window can be accessed several ways. We will focus on opening Control Panel and clicking the System applet.

Performance (virtual memory)

Accessing Advanced system settings > Advanced > Performance > Settings Lets you adjust your Virtual memory and optimize other performance features.

Screenshot of System Window
System Properties – Advanced tab

System protection provides full control over your System Restore operations. It can be configured individually for each drive in your system. You can manually create a Restore Point which can be created when the system is running well or restore points are automatically created when system changes are made to provide recovery capability. Very importantly you must be sure your system is clean of viruses and malware because the Virus and malware programs will be included and subsequently restored if you deploy an infected Restore Point.

Screenshot of System Window - System Protection
System Properties – System Protection tab

Remote settings

Remote settings controls remote access programs like Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop. These programs provide users with accessibility to their machines from any internet connected location. Remote Assistance Provides temporary access for getting help with PC problems. Users who telecommute or are always on the go find the Remote Desktop an invaluable resource. The program needs to be allowed access through any firewall. After that you can choose which versions of Remote Desktop software you will allow to connect. Finally you have the ability to select users that are permitted to connect and they will be added to the Remote Desktop Users Group. If you have problems connecting first check port 3389 on your firewall(s) then be sure the user attempting access is belongs to the Remote Desktop Users Group.

Screenshot of System Protection Remote tab
System Protection – Remote tab

System protection

Windows firewall is a software based firewall that is built in to Windows and customized when you select your network type when setting up the connection. In Windows 7 and earlier you can choose Home, Work or Public security. On windows 8 and later the available network types are Public or Private security. Public security is the strongest. Once the automatic configuration is made you need to enter the Firewall configuration and allow and block your custom programs, for example Remote Desktop can to be allowed to facilitate remote access. In the firewall the settings can be different for each network type. For example You can allow a program on the Private network and Block it Publically.

Power options

Power options controls as you may guess how your machine consumes power. These plans offer a great deal of power saving options especially when using a laptop. There are general plans that may be stricter than you would like, but if dimming your display when on battery gives you an extra ½ hour you can probably live with it.

Power Plans

You can choose from Balanced, High Performance and Power Saver power plans. The Power Saver option will give you the longest battery life even spinning down hard disks after a designated period. Each plan is customizable using the Change plan settings link.
This applet can also create a custom power plan indicating when to turn off the display, here you’ll have a choice of when to turn off the display and when to put the computer to sleep. Here is where we can talk about Sleep mode, hibernation and the differences between them.

Sleep mode & Standby

Sleep mode saves the system state, any open documents and programs to memory and the hard drive if needed and then power is removed from everything except memory and a recoverable portion on the system. Very low power. This is referred to by some as standby or suspend mode. But, here is the important difference, the device can still perform background operations using the trickle of power to the memory and system. The machine can generally respond from Sleep mode in a few seconds.

Screenshot of Power Options
Power Options


Hibernate differs significantly from Sleep in that when Hibernated, the system will record the system state and all volatile data to the hard disk. It is incapable of any operations until powered up. When it is powered back up the system will appear exactly as it was when hibernated. Laptops often default to this mode in low battery situations.
Your Windows system can be manually Hibernated or put to sleep using the Start power options. Check the example below for some of the Advanced Power Plan Options. Highlighted is the setting to turn off the hard disk.

Screenshot of Advanced Power Plan Options
Power  Options – Advanced Settings

Programs and Features

The next applet we will explore is Programs and Features. Here you can modify and remove installed programs. Take a look on your own machine and you will see the number of programs installed. If you see any that you no longer use or do not want you can select it and Uninstall it or Change its setup even Repair the installation in some cases.. If you find that you are having problems after installing a Windows Update you can select it by viewing installed updates and removing the offending update, but be careful. It is a good Idea to make sure a Restore Point is created before making changes here. This applet also allows you to turn select Windows features on or off.

Screenshot of Programs and Features
Programs and Features


HomeGroup On small home or SOHO networks can share data using a workgroup or HomeGroup. The workgroup has security advantages that are not present in the HomeGroup. The HomeGroup Shares considerably more resources than the workgroup because The workgroup computers control access to resources on each machine, were a HomeGroup allows anyone with access to all shared resources on all devices joined to the group.

Devices and Printers

This applet allows you to add or remove printers and check their properties, and view the queue. In our graphic we show the default printer which we chose using the Alt click menu. Many devices automatically add themselves here. You will find wireless USB devices, Smartphones, TVs and even your gateway could be shown here. If you connect to a device wirelessly or using USB you will find it here.

Screenshot of Devices and Printers
Devices and Printers


The Sound applet provides control over your system sound and audio input Recording) and output (Playback) behavior and all associated properties. You can choose the sounds to be linked with system actions like the sound that plays when you get email, logon/logoff sounds and much more. The communications tab controls how your system sounds are altered when you are using the PC for VoIP.

Screenshot of Sound Applet
Sound Applet


The Troubleshooting applet in Control Panel showcases Windows self-diagnostic and repair capabilities. You can fix common problems with tour computer’s Programs, Hardware and Sound, Network and Internet and System and Security using the built in troubleshooters. Or you can search for a specific problem. Puzzling repairs can often be simplified with this tool. Choosing View all shows all available Troubleshooters including fixes for Blue Screen! Check View history to see all automatic repairs. This will help determine if you have a recurring issue. The applet is also capable of sending Help requests.

Screenshot of Troubleshooting applet
Troubleshooting applet

Network and Sharing

The Network and Sharing Center is at the heart of your network. We will discuss it in great detail later. For now know that this is where you go to view or change your connection settings, and troubleshoot network problems. You can also view and change your adapter settings as shown or modify your advanced sharing settings. Here we show the Wireless Adapter Status. No trouble here.

Screenshot of Network and Sharing Center
Network and Sharing Center

Device Manager

Consider Device manager the first place to look when you are having hardware problems. Your devices are categorized here and the items listed are expandable to list the sub components. Right clicking them will display a context menu that allows device configuration and driver changes. In this display there are no problems. Problem indicators would be a Red X for a missing or disabled device. A Yellow question mark or Exclamation point mean that the device is either conflicting with other hardware or the drivers are not correct. These often show up under Other Devices. The first course of action would be to examine the Properties for the device and check for error codes and messages.

Screenshot of Device Manager
Device Manager

That’s all for 220-902 objective 1.5. Good luck on the test!

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