How to disable access to the Settings App and Control Panel?

By Nicholas Nabakwe | November 26, 2018 |

greater than 5 minutes

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Windows 10’s Control Panel and PC Setting app help you change many features, such as your computer’s network and security, hardware installation and sound, appearance, user accounts, and installed programs. You wouldn’t want just anyone to have that much control over your computer.

Here are the reasons why and how to disable access to the Settings app on Windows 10.

Why You Need to Disable Access to the Control Panel and Settings App

If you’re sharing your computer with friends and workmates, you may not want them to change your preferred settings. Disabling access to the Control Panel is especially critical since users with access can even uninstall vital programs from your system.

At home, you may need to prevent your kids from reversing any changes you make to the child account. This ensures effective parental control.

It’s also useful for organizations or teams working with individual computers in a networked environment. You can set default settings and prevent anyone else from altering them.

Above all, for your protection, you shouldn’t let just anyone change your computer settings, which can create security risks. Someone can disable your firewall settings and make your computer susceptible to malware attacks. In case that happens, you should have powerful anti-malware software like Auslogics Anti-Malware.

How to Disable Access to the Control Panel and Settings App

You can only disable the Control Panel and PC Settings app from the administrator account. Therefore, you should first change the account from standard to administrator. Once you finish making the necessary changes, remember to revert the account to standard if you’re doing this on a shared computer. If not, the people you’re sharing your computer with can easily re-enable the Control Panel and Settings app.

Windows 10 provides two options to change the Control Panel and the PC Settings app:

  • using the Registry Editor
  • using the Local Group Policy Editor

Using Windows Registry Editor

This option is applicable to all editions of Windows 10. For those using Windows 10 Enterprise or Pro, you might prefer using the Local Group Policy Editor (covered in the next section).

Before starting, you should first back up your data and create a system restore point. You can also back up the registry beforehand. This is because changing the registry is risky. If you make accidental mistakes, you might lose your valuable data. Therefore, follow the instructions properly.

In case you want to reverse the changes you make, you have the option to reset the registry back to the default values. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Open the Run dialog box (press Windows key + R).
  2. Within the slot marked “Open,” type regedit and click OK.
  3. A dialog box for User Account Control will open up. Click Yes to continue. However, based on your user account control settings, you may not need this step.
  4. You’ll now have the Registry Editor window. Go to the tree structure on the left side. Navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
  5. Now, right-click on the right side. Then go to New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  6. On the new key, input the name NoControlPanel. Double-click on it.
  7. You’ll get a dialog box for Edit DWORD (32-bit) Value. In the Value data box, type 1. Then click OK.

The change will be finalized after you sign out and sign back in. You can also reboot your computer.

Whenever you want to reverse the change, follow the same process above to locate the new key you created. Once you get to it, you have two options:

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  • change the NoControlPanel value to 0
  • delete the NoControlPanel value

Using Windows Group Policy Editor

Windows 10 Enterprise and Pro gives you a second option to disable the Control Panel and Settings app: the local Group Policy Editor.

Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Run dialog box (press Windows key + R).
  2. In the slot marked “Open,” type gpedit.msc. Click OK.
  3. The Local Group Policy Editor window opens up. Go to the tree list on the left side and navigate to: User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel
  4. Double-click Prohibit access to the Control Panel and PC settings on the right side.
  5. You’ll get a Prohibit access to Control Panel and PC settings dialog box. Select Enabled. Then click OK.

Once that is done, other users can no longer access the Control Panel or Settings app.

When you want to reverse the changes, follow the steps as indicated to get to the Prohibit access to Control Panel and PC settings dialog box. Here, you can take either of the two actions:

  • select Not Configured
  • select Disabled

The Effect of Disabling Access to the Settings App and Control Panel

Once you have executed either of the two operations, other users can no longer open the Settings app.

And it doesn’t matter if they know how to access the Control Panel in Windows 10. If they try accessing the Control Panel, a dialog box will appear with the alert, “This operation has been canceled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator.”

The other users will have no option to change account settings. The Change account settings option will no longer appear on the users’ Start menu. This keeps them from trying to change to an administrator account to reverse the settings you made.

Other Features You Can Disable on Windows 10

In certain instances, you may not want to disable access to the Settings app completely.

It’s also possible to disable access to specific features in the Settings app, including such features as default apps, privacy -> speech typing, ease of access -> closed captioning, storage sense, network -> proxy, privacy -> motion, network -> VPN, privacy -> messaging, privacy -> location, battery saver, sync, network -> mobile hotspot.

Plus, you can do the same thing for the Control Panel. This way, users will still see and access both the Settings app and Control Panel, but not see or access the features you hide from visibility.

If disabling the Settings app and Control Panel doesn’t provide sufficient security for your computer and peace of mind, you can disable several other features too.

These include such features as:

  • Microsoft Experimentation – this involves live tests on your system by Microsoft and other tech companies, which can affect the performance of your computer.
  • Windows Defender Security Center – the security notifications can interrupt and irritate you with trivial security issues.
  • File Explorer ads – getting ads while searching through your computer files is clearly intrusive. The same goes for Windows Spotlight ads appearing on your lock screen.

When you put in place optimum settings on your computer, mainly by limiting the number of processes running in your system, you’ll get the best performance from it. Combine that with disabling access by other users to changing those settings, and you’ll ensure your computer lasts for a long time.

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