10 Essential Windows Tools & How to Access Them

Joe Keeley 25-11-2015

Windows is full of useful tools 5 Legendary Windows Tools Replaced by New Features Windows includes lots of tools that you use every day, but some have lasted longer than others. Here are parts of Windows that don't exist anymore. Read More , but it can be hard to remember how to access all of them. Or perhaps you’re just looking for a quicker way to launch them. Whatever the case, we’ve got you covered.


From Command Prompt to File Explorer, this list offers some of the quickest ways to access the most essential Windows tools, some of which you may use on a daily basis.

However, it’s by no means complete. Be sure to drop into the comments section afterwards to share with us your own access tips.

Searching the System

Before we begin, it’s worth noting that Windows has a very powerful system search Top 7 Windows Search Tricks Used by Pro Users Read More . In Windows 10 it’ll be sitting in your taskbar by default, plus Cortana will be happy to lend a hand, but it can also be accessed through the Start Menu.

10 Essential Windows Tools & How to Access Them taskbar search

If you’re ever looking for a program, utility, file, or anything that’s on your PC, you can always rely on the system search What Are the Fastest Tools for Windows Desktop Search? Search is one of the digital tools we take for granted and heavily rely on. Fortunately, Windows comes with a handy search feature. Could third-party tools be better and faster? We made the test. Read More to discover it. It’s super handy for when you can’t remember a shortcut – just type what you need and it’ll be found.


Control Panel

The Control Panel is the central configuration hub of your system Unlock Windows Potential: Control Panel Demystified If you want to be the master of your Windows experience, the Control Panel is where it's at. We untangle the complexity of this power tool. Read More and there are a number of different ways to get to it. The first is to press Win + X and then select Control Panel. The second is to press Win + R, type control and then press return.

Windows 10 Control Panel

Another method is available when in File Explorer. In the address bar at the top, click the first arrow and then select Control Panel from the dropdown menu.


With Windows 8, Microsoft split system settings from being solely accessed through the Control Panel and introduced Settings The Windows 10 Settings Guide: How to Do Anything and Everything Do you know your way around the Settings app in Windows 10? Here's everything you need to know. Read More . From here you can view devices, personalize your wallpaper How to Set Live Wallpapers & Animated Desktop Backgrounds in Windows 10 Want to liven up your Windows 10 desktop with some animated backgrounds? Here's what you need to do. Read More , change your language settings, and more.


Windows 10 Settings panel

The best way to open Settings is to press Win Key + I. However, there is a way to go directly to the Settings page you need through Run commands Everything You Must Know About The Run Dialog & Most Useful Commands Are you using the easiest way to save time on Windows? It's the Run dialog. We show you how to quickly create custom commands to open any program or file in two easy steps. Read More . Open Run with Win + R and use Winaero’s table to learn the commands for the different sections. Input them on Run, then hit return to launch.

Run Command

The Run command 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy Don't let the command prompt intimidate you. It's simpler and more useful than you expect. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish with just a few keystrokes. Read More allows users to open things like programs, folders or websites by entering its direct path or shortcut. The quickest way to open it up its to press Win + R on your keyboard, which will work on all modern versions of Windows, but that’s not the only method. You can also press Win + X to access the Power User menu, then click Run.



Prior to Windows 7, you were able to open Run from a Start Menu shortcut, but this was removed by default. To add it back in, right-click the Start button, select Properties and then click the Customize… button. Scroll down the list, check the box for Run command and click OK.

On Windows 10, you can find Run under the Windows System folder on the Start Menu. From here, right-click the shortcut and then click Pin to start.

Task Manager

Task Manager displays all processes The Windows 8 Task Manager: A Gem Hidden In Plain Sight While many parts of Windows 8 are debatable (maybe Modern is the future; maybe it's not), one element of Windows 8 that has undergone a massive overhaul and made it unequivocally more awesome is the... Read More and services that are currently running on your system, plus gives a run-down of performance. You can open Task Manager in many different ways. Probably the most well known is to press Ctrl + Alt + Del and then select Task Manager (prior to Vista, this actually took you straight to the utility, hence the shortcut’s popularity). But you can also press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to go direct to the Task Manager.



Furthermore, you can right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. And you can do the same by pressing Ctrl + X. Finally, you can press Win + R, type taskmgr and then push return. Which method is easiest for you?

File Explorer

File Explorer, previously named Windows Explorer, does what it says on the tin. You can explore your folders and files within it, though it’s more powerful than you think 10 Little Known Features of Windows File Explorer Don’t let Windows File Explorer fool you with its plain looks. It’s capable of many more actions and tweaks than it lets on! Let us show you a bunch of them. Read More . For example, you’re using File Explorer when browsing your Documents or Pictures. As such, you could jump right in by selecting one of those from your Start Menu.


The quickest method is probably pressing Win Key + E, which will launch you straight into File Explorer. Alternatively, press Win Key + X and then select File Explorer. Finally, try Win + R, inputting explorer and then pressing return.

Command Prompt

Command Prompt is a long-time administrative Windows Windows Administrator Account: Everything You Need to Know Starting with Windows Vista, the built-in Windows Administrator account is disabled by default. You can enable it, but do so at your own risk! We show you how. Read More utility that allows users to perform actions through typing commands A Beginner's Guide To The Windows Command Line The command line lets you communicate directly with your computer and instruct it to perform various tasks. Read More , without the use of the graphical interface. On Windows 7, it sits under the Accessories folder on the Start Menu. On Windows 10, it’s within the Windows System folder.

Windows 10 Command Prompt BCDEdit

You can also press Win + R to open Run, input cmd and then press return for a quicker launch. Those on Windows 8.1 and above can also access it through the Power User menu. Press Win + X to open this menu, then select Command Prompt from the list.


PowerShell is an automation and configuration utility; a scripting language built into Windows that aids system management. It’s similar to the Command Prompt, but there are differences between the two Command Prompt vs. Windows PowerShell: What's the Difference? Windows users can get by without using either the Command Prompt or PowerShell. But with Windows 10 and new features around the corner, maybe it's about time we learned. Read More . One way to open it is to press Win +R, type powershell and then press return.


Alternatively, right-click the taskbar and select Properties. Go to the Navigation tab and then check Replace Command Prompt with Windows PowerShell in the menu when I right-click the lower-left corner or press Windows key +X. Then press OK. As you may have guessed, you can now press Win Key + X and select PowerShell.


The registry is a database What Is the Windows Registry and How Do I Edit It? If you need to edit the Windows registry, making a few quick changes is easy. Let's learn how to work with the registry. Read More that basically contains all the information about your system. Don’t dive into it and start editing if you’re not confident with what you’re doing; a wrong move could bust your computer. To access the registry, press Win + R, input regedit and then hit return.


If you want to have a shortcut to the Registry, that’s easy. Do a system search for regedit, then right-click the result and you can perform various actions like Pin to start or Pin to taskbar. Alternatively, you can Send to > Desktop if you want a desktop shortcut.

Mobility Center

The Mobility Center is a feature for laptop users One Windows Tool To Get Instant Access To All Your Hardware Controls Seeing how useful this tool is, it's shockingly fameless. I'm talking about the Windows Mobility Center. Say what? See what I mean! Read More , enabling them to access a multitude of options from one central place, like display brightness and battery level. To access the Mobility Center, go to the Control Panel, click Hardware and Sound, and then click Windows Mobility Center.


You can also access it by pressing Win + X and then selecting it from the menu that displays. This is the quickest method and it’ll save you rummaging around in the Control Panel each time.

Ease of Access Center

The Ease of Access Center is designed to help make people’s systems easier to use through tools such as a magnifier or on-screen keyboard Learn To Navigate Windows Without A Mouse, Keyboard Or Screen You just spent hours labouring over an important document when your keyboard dies on you. Would you know how to save your work, exit programs, and shut down your computer? We'll show you. Read More . You could launch it by going to the Control Panel and then selecting Ease of Access.

ease of access center

However, there is a quicker way. Just press Win Key + U to go straight into the Center and begin customizing your options, like starting the narrator or enabling high contrast.

Assigning Shortcut Keys

You can also assign your own shortcut keys Windows Keyboard Shortcuts 101: The Ultimate Guide Keyboard shortcuts can save you hours of time. Master the universal Windows keyboard shortcuts, keyboard tricks for specific programs, and a few other tips to speed up your work. Read More to particular programs. Find it within the Start Menu, right-click it, and then select Properties. Switch to the Shortcut tab and then click within the Shortcut key dialog box. Now press a key that you want to assign the program to and your shortcut will be created. Then press OK.

Now that you know all these different ways to access Windows tools, you can choose the methods that best suit you and save you the most time. Though it might not seem like much in the moment, those seconds saved from speedy shortcuts do add up!

What methods do you use to launch the Windows utilities? Do you have your own shortcuts to share?

Related topics: Command Prompt, File Explorer, Keyboard Shortcuts, Windows Explorer, Windows Registry, Windows Search, Windows Task Manager.

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  1. Steven Don
    November 26, 2015 at 2:46 am

    That should be Ctrl-Shift-Esc to access the task manager. Ctrl-Alt-Esc is more similar to Alt-Tab.

    • Raju Shrestha
      November 26, 2015 at 5:06 am

      Yes, it should be ctrl + shift + esc... for task manager

    • Tina Sieber
      November 29, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      You're right. Thank you for pointing it out! Fixed.

    • rafa
      January 4, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      Cool tip! ;-)