Several applications and drivers add new extensions to the Windows Control Panel which sooner or later fills itself with official and third-party extensions. Hardware entries like the Creative Audio Console or the NVIDIA Control Panel Applet and software extensions like Adobe Gamma, Java or Quicktime add an icon to the Control Panel without asking the user or offering additional features that make it necessary that they are placed in the Control Panel.
Visual Controls is a tiny application with a size of 82 Kilobyte that lists all third party Control Panel extensions giving the user the option to manage these extensions. They can be enabled or disabled by checking or unchecking the related entry. Changes are applied instantly and the icons will no longer be available once the Control Panel is refreshed or restarted.
Visual Controls requires the .net Framework 2.0 or higher. A download link is available on the developers homepage.
Update: One of the issues that Windows users may experience after uninstalling software, drivers or hardware that added an applet to the control panel, is that these may not get removed during the uninstallation.
That's a big issue as you are left with broken control panel links that clutter the interface and lead to nowhere. There is a manual way to remove items as well, in case the software is not compatible with your version of Windows, or if it does not do what it is supposed to.
Open Windows Explorer and click your way through the Windows\system32\ folder. All control panel applets are listed in this folder with the extension .cpl. You can enter that into the search form in Windows Explorer, or sort by file type in the listing.
All that is left to do is to locate the applet that you want to remove and delete it from the directory.
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats (video ads) or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.