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Seeing how useful this tool is, it’s shockingly fameless. I’m talking about the Windows Mobility Center. Say what? See what I mean!
What Is The Windows Mobility Center?
In short, the Windows Mobility Center (WMC) is a one stop menu from which you can control many of your laptop’s hardware settings. It’s especially useful, if your computer doesn’t have all the function buttons you’d like, providing access to several different display settings, volume, battery status & power plans, wireless adapter, and more. Which tiles you see depends on your hardware and some manufacturers include custom tiles.
Note that if you’re missing one of the default tiles, it could mean that the hardware or driver isn’t installed. Also, if you have a hardware switch for your wirelss adapter, be sure it’s in the ON position to turn it on and off using the tile.
Per default, WMC is disabled on desktop computers, but can be enabled; see below for details.
How Can I Access The Windows Mobility Center?
Generally, you can find the Windows Mobility Center in the Windows Control Panel. In Category view, it’s listed under Hardware and Sound: Adjust commonly used mobility settings. In Windows 7 you can also access it super quick with the keyboard shortcut Windows key + X.
Sadly, Microsoft decided not to offer a direct WMC shortcut in Windows 8. To access it from the desktop, right-click the Start button to open the new Win+X menu (or click the respective keyboard shortcut) and select Mobility Center from the menu.
Alternatively, click Windows key + C to open the Charms bar, search for mobility, and open WMC from the results.
If you can’t seem to find or open the WMC, it might have been disabled. See below for instructions on how to enable it.
If you’d prefer a direct keyboard shortcut in Windows 8 or a different one in Windows 7, you can create a desktop shortcut and set a custom key combination to open it. For the desktop shortcut, open the Control Panel, make sure you’re in list view, right-click on Windows Mobility Center, and select Create shortcut. You can move the shortcut from your desktop to a more convenient location.
To set up a custom keyboard shortcut in either Windows 7 or 8, right-click the WMC shortcut you just created, switch to the Shortcut tab, place your cursor in the Shortcut key field, and click your desired key combination. Note that you need to pick a key combination that isn’t already in use. When you’re done, click OK. This custom keyboard shortcut will work from anywhere in Windows 7 or 8.
To easily access the WMC on a Windows 8 touch device, you can move the desktop shortcut you created above to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs – this will place it in the App view. From here you can right-click and pin it to the Start screen.
What Can I Do With The Windows Mobility Center?
As mentioned above, the WMC comes with a set of default tiles, depending on what hardware is installed on your computer:
- Brightness, to adjust the brightness of your display via a convenient slider.
- Volume, to adjust the volume.
- Battery Status, to see how much juice you’ve got left and to switch power plans and save battery life.
- Wireless Network, to turn your wirless network on or off.
- Screen Orientation, to rotate your screen.
- External Display, to see the second monitor’s status and resolution, and toggle active screens.
- Sync Center, possibly useful for owners of a Windows Phone.
- Presentation Settings, to turn on custom settings for when you’re running a presentation, such as disabling the volume and screensaver, and showing a specific background.
Clicking a tile icon will open options for the respective setting. For example, the display brightness icon will open settings for your current power plan, which includes custom brightness settings for that power plan.
Clicking the presentations settings icon launches a window in which you can control how your computer behaves during presentations.
How Can I Get This On My Desktop Computer?
Per default, the Windows Mobility Center only launches if you’re on a mobile device. Desktop users will see a window informing them that the feature is available only on laptops. You can bypass this restriction with a registry hack provided by SevenForums. Simply download their Enable Desktop WMC registry file, follow instructions, and you’re in.
Under the same link above, SevenForums also offers a registry file to disable the WMC.
Is It Possible To Add Custom Tiles?
Yes, and Microsoft released a thorough documentation on the Windows Mobility Center, which includes instructions on how to add custom tiles. Briefly, custom static or dynamic tiles can be added via subkeys under the following registry key:
It took Microsoft 47 pages to explain the process, so I won’t attempt to provide further details. Just know that some people have made custom tiles, samples, and tutorials available, including…
- The Man (Christian Zeitnitz), who offers an example file with Wordpad, Device Manager, and Speaker Devices tiles and detailed instructions on how to create static tiles.
- Long Zheng of i started something, who released a simple Display Power tile.
Isn’t This The Most Useful Tool Ever?
Which other settings would you like to edit from the Windows Mobility Center? And what other Windows shortcuts should people know about?