How to Open the Control Panel in Windows 10

Many Windows 10 settings are configured through the Control Panel. The Device Manager for example, which is used for driver settings, is accessed through this panel. As such, it’s important to know how to open the Control Panel in Windows 10.

In Windows 7 and 8.1, opening the Control Panel was easy. All you had to do was click or right-click the Windows Start button. However, in Windows 10, this is no longer the case.

Open the Control Panel Using the Search Box

This is generally the preferred, and easiest way to open the Control Panel. Simply type “control panel” in the search box on the Taskbar.

In the Search results screen, you can click the Control Panel App under best match (1), or click the Control Panel icon in the right-hand window (2).

Open the Control Panel

Open the Control Panel from the Taskbar

If you want even easier access to the Control Panel in Windows 10, you should ‘pin’ it it to the Taskbar, thereby creating a shortcut.

  1. Follow the steps above to open then Control Panel.
  2. On the Taskbar, right-click the Control Panel icon.
  3. In the popup windows that opens, click Pin to taskbar.

Pin control panel to taskbar

After this, the Control Panel icon will permanently show on the Taskbar. So even when you close the Control Panel, you can quickly open it again by clicking the icon on the Taskbar!

Why Use the Control Panel?

Since it seems that Microsoft has made it a bit more difficult to open the Control Panel, you would expect that it is not needed that much. Not true!

For example, for device driver related actions (e.g., driver updates, troubleshooting, driver roll-backs, etc.) the Device Manager is needed.

To get to the Device Manager, you need to open the Control Panel. From there, select the Hardware and Sound option, and then click the Device Manager option.

Another common task performed via the Control Panel is program uninstalls.

Many applications create a Program Group in the Start menu, where they normally put a link to an uninstall option. But if that is not available, then the easiest method to uninstall a program is the Uninstall a program feature in the Control Panel.

 

Auto-Adjust Audio Volume During Phone Calls in Windows 10

What to do to ‘make’ Windows 10 auto adjust the audio volume levels of music you’re playing or video you’re watching, when you want to make or take a phone call.

Automatically adjust audio volume during phone calls in Windows 10? Why would anyone want to do that?

Here are some scenarios…

  • It’s your habit to listen to music while you’re on your computer. However, you sometimes need to make online calls during the day and you don’t want  to constantly start and stop your music each and every time you make a phone call.
  • You’re listening to some grrrreat music, or you’re watching a really amazing video… but you’re expecting an incoming phone call sometime today and you don’t want to miss it. You want to hear that incoming call loud and clear OVER whatever music you’re listening to, or video you may be watching.
voip-callPlease note that a 'call' in this context means either an audio or a video call made using a communications app installed on your computer such as Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom, Viber, Messenger etc.

So that’s clear… NO to manually muting or lowering the sound volume for whatever it is you’re playing when making or receiving computer calls. You want these ‘other sounds’ to automatically lower down during phone calls.

Luckily, Windows 10 has a feature to automatically lower audio volume when making or receiving phone calls. And there are a few options to configure this feature to your personal preference too!

Change the Audio Level for Communications

To configure what should happen during telephone calls:

  1. Right-click the sound icon in the system tray.
    Windows 10 Sounds
  2. In the popup window, click Sounds.
  3. In the Sound dialog box, click the Communications tab.
  4. Now, select what should happen to other sounds when you use your Windows 10 PC to make or take telephone calls.
    Note: Click Mute all other sounds if you want Windows to out all other playing audio to silent when you’re in a call.
    Note: Click Do nothing if you want all other sounds to stay at the same volume during calls.
    Windows 10 Audio Level
  5. Click OK to confirm.

The next time you make or receive a PC phone call, the audio level for other sounds will adjust according to the option you selected.

How to Disable Automatic Audio Level Adjustment

So after giving you the above steps on how to use Windows’ automatic audio level adjustment feature, why would you now disable it?!?

Well, it turns out the method of detecting “communications” as Microsoft calls it… is not fool proof. 😅

In some cases, this feature is triggered when it should not. Since there are so many programs using VoIP for audio communication, it is very possible that  audio is muted when you do not want it!

In games for example, you can configure the audio channels the way you want them. So when you are starting a chat with another player, you do not want Windows to suddenly change the volume level.

Whatever the reason, now you know the steps to configure the audio volume level adjustment in Windows 10 to your own preference!

Other Causes of Audio Volume Level Problems

If the Windows 10 settings for automatic volume adjustment does not solve your problem, or you deem it unreliable, you may want to try something else.

There are a few more settings in Windows 10 that can affect audio playback behavior. Another key component in all this is the audio hardware and audio devices you have with Windows 10. There are specific settings in audio playback software that can affect audio volume level behavior too.

Read on to learn more about why audio volume levels are not working the way you might expect.

Disable Enhancements and Exclusive Device Access

Audio enhancements allow an audio driver to perform adjustments to the audio, like an equalizer. But these enhancements can also be the reason why audio levels behave in a way you do not want.

To disable audio enhancements, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the sound icon in the system tray.
  2. In the popup window, click Sounds.
  3. In the Sound dialog, select the Playback tab.
  4. Select the Speakers option, and then click the Properties button.
    Windows 10 Speaker PropertiesNote: There can be multiple Speakers options. Select the one you are experiencing problems with, or repeat the steps for each one.
  5. In the Speaker Properties dialog box, select the Enhancements tab.
  6. Next, make sure the checkbox Disable all enhancements is selected, and then click OK.
    Disable Audio Enhancements

If this does not help with the audio level problem, you can also disable exclusive control of the audio device. After step 6 above, select the Advanced tab and then clear the checkbox that says Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device.

Audio Device Hardware

Hardware is not the first to be mentioned, but it is certainly important. For audio hardware to work as intended, Windows needs the proper device drivers for the audio device. Updating your audio drivers is a good idea to ensure outdated driver software is not causing the problems. We suggest you download DriverFinder to update your audio drivers.

If your problems are with a USB headset, a good tip is to change the USB port the headset is plugged into. USB configuration is device and port specific, so plugging the headset in a different USB port may help fix audio volume problems. Preferably, use a USB port directly on the motherboard.

Application Specific Audio Level Settings

Apart from Windows 10 itself, many audio and video applications have settings that can affect audio volume behavior. If your application is listed below, check the settings to ensure the behavior is as you want it.

Discord

If you are experiencing problems with audio levels in discord, try this.

  1. Click the Settings icon in the main window (bottom left).
    Discord Settings
  2. In the left-hand panel, select the Voice & Video option.
  3. In the right-hand panel, scroll down to the ATTENUATION section.
    Discord Voice and Video
  4. Disable the options When I speak and When others speak.
  5. Press Esc to close the settings and go back to the main window.

VLC Media Player

VLC is an excellent and popular tool for audio and video playback. Check its audio settings using these steps:

  1. Open VLC.
  2. In the Tools menu, select Preferences.
  3. In the Preferences window, click the Audio icon, and then click the All radio button in the button left.
    VLC Aaudio Settings
    The window will change from Simple Preferences to Advanced Preferences.
  4. Now select Audio in the list on the left.
    VLC Advanced Audio Settings
  5. Turn the Force detection of Dolby Surround option to Off, and make sure the Replay gain mode is set to None.
  6. Click Save.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article!
If you have experienced audio level problems with other applications and you have a solution, let me know and I’ll add it!

[Fixed] Windows 10 PC Won’t Wake Up From Sleep Mode

Going through Windows 10 PC won’t wake up from sleep mode problems? Solve this issue using these easy-to-follow fixes with pictures.

windows10-sleep-modeWhat do you do if your Windows 10 PC won’t wake up from Sleep Mode?

Sleep Mode is very useful for saving battery life on a laptop because saving on electricity is a good thing. More battery juice, longer laptop use. Yey!

It’s also also useful for desktop PC’s. Windows uses Sleep Mode to save the current status of your PC and easily restore it on wake-up. Wake-up is typically achieved with the move of the mouse, or tap of a key on the keyboard.

But sometimes… these ‘wake up’ things you need to do don’t work at all. So what do you do? Let’s begin…

Quick fix: Reboot!

Press the power button for about 10 seconds. That should power down the system completely. Press the power button again to restart it. After that, you can use the tips in this guide to figure out why your Windows 10 PC won’t wake up from Sleep Mode to prevent it from happening again.

Note: you should always try to shut down your system the normal way. Do this force shutdown tip only when necessary. Also, pls. don’t revert to this ‘fix’ as your go to solution for Sleep mode problems. That won’t fix the problem and can harm your system if you do it often.

Is your PC in Sleep or Hibernate mode?

First though, please note that there is a difference between your PC going into Sleep Mode or Hibernate Mode. Both are meant to save power and allow for easy continuation of work by starting Windows faster. In Sleep Mode the computer still uses a little power since the state is stored in RAM (computer memory), while in Hibernate Mode the state is saved to disk (a hibernation file), and then PC turns off.

On a laptop though, even if a computer goes into Sleep Mode, Windows will still go into hibernation mode if the battery runs out.

Waking up from Hibernation mode

Waking up from hibernation not only takes longer, but it also requires different actions. On a laptop, you obviously first want to make sure there is sufficient power, so plug it first to charge the battery.

Opening the lid on your laptop will normally bring Windows back on from hibernation mode. If that does not work, press the power button. On a desktop, the power button should be used.

Waking up from Sleep mode

To wake up a laptop from Sleep Mode you use the same actions as on a desktop (mouse or keyboard). Some PCs have a separate sleep button. If so, you need to press that to wake up the laptop from Sleep Mode.

Ok, say you’ve established that your system is truly into Sleep Mode, and it really won’t wake up. Now what? Read on for the fixes folks!

Check your mouse or keyboard settings

Often, it’s your mouse or keyboard that’s the problem. To fix this, follow these steps.

  1. Right-click the Start menu button and select Device Manager.
    Start Device Manager
  2. In Device Manager, you will see a list of device categories. Open the category called Keyboards. (Click the down arrow in front of it).
  3. Next, right-click your keyboard device in the list, and in the popup menu, select Properties.Keyboard device properties
  4. In the keyboard Properties window, select the Power Management tab.
  5. After that, make sure the checkbox named Allow this device to wake up the computer is selected.
    Allow wake up using keyboard
  6. Click OK to confirm.
  7. Repeat these steps for the category called Mice and other pointing devices, with your mouse device.
    Allow mouse wake up

Now try again if you can wake up your Windows 10 PC using the mouse and keyboard. In most cases this should fix the issue. If not, please try the steps below.

  1. In Device Manager, open the category called Universal Serial Bus controllers.
  2. Right-click the USB Root Hub device and click Properties.
    Note: If there are multiple devices, repeat these steps for each until you have pinpointed the right one.
  3. Select the Power Management tab.
  4. Now clear or uncheck the checkbox named Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.
    USB Root Hub power
  5. Click OK to confirm.

This will ensure that the USB port remains powered, so the keyboard and mouse devices will still work when in sleep mode. Even when using a wireless mouse, the receiver is still connected to a USB port.

If you are using a Bluetooth mouse, you might need to perform these steps for the Bluetooth USB module device in the Bluetooth category instead.

Configure your Power Options

To configure which power mode Windows uses, follow these steps.

  1. Right-click the Start menu button, and click Power Options.
    Power Options from Star menu
  2. In the Power Options window, click Choose what the power buttons do.
    Power Options
    Note: On a laptop, you can also use the Choose what closing the lid does option. This will show you the same options, but now includes an option for closing the lid and differentiates between On battery and Plugged in modes as shown below.
    Laptop Power Options
  3. In the next window, ensure that the option selected next to When I press the sleep button is Sleep. (If not, then change it to Sleep.)Power buttons
  4. Next, click  Change settings that are currently unavailable. (This will enable the options under Shutdown settings.)
  5. Clear (uncheck) Turn on fast startup (recommended).
  6. Click Save changes to confirm and close this window.
    Note: If after this change the Windows 10 sleep mode error is not resolved, you can re-enable this option. The Fast Startup option can cause problems, that is why it is mentioned as a tip here to fix wake up problems. But when it is not the cause of the wake up problem, it is beneficial to keep it turned on. 
    Turn on fast startup
  7. Back in the Power Options window, click the Change plan settings for the current power plan being used.
    Change Power Plan Settings
  8. Now click the Change advanced power settings.
    Advanced Power Settings
  9. Verify the settings for Allow hybrid sleep, and Allow wake timers.
    Advanced Sleep Options
    You want to make sure that the Allow hybrid sleep setting is turned Off, and that Allow wake timers is set to Enable. Click the + symbol to open the option and then click the setting to change it.
  10. If these changes still don’t fix your Windows 10 PC won’t wake up from sleep problem, then Disable the USB selective suspend setting.
    Disable USB selective suspend
  11. A less common setting that can cause issues with Sleep mode in Windows 10 is the multimedia sharing setting.
    Mutlimedia Power Option
    Allow sleep during media sharing

    Open the Multimedia settings. Click the When sharing media option, and then change the setting to Allow the computer to sleep.

  12. Click OK to confirm and save the settings.

You may need to restart your PC for the changes to take effect.

Hibernate mode – disable, reboot, enable

If your PC uses the Hibernate option for power saving, it can help to disable and re-enable this option. If none of the previous steps have solved the Windows 10 wake up from sleep problem, it is useful to try this, especially on laptops where Hibernate mode is used frequently.

The easiest way is to use the Advanced settings in the Power Options menu.

  1. Right-click the Start menu button, and click Power Options.
  2. Click the Change plan settings for the current power plan being used.
  3. Click Change advanced power settings.
  4. Under the Sleep category, open the Hibernate after option and then change the Setting to Never.
    Disable Hibernate
  5. Click OK to save and confirm.
  6. Reboot your PC.
  7. Now re-enable this Hibernate option again by changing the Setting to the previous value.

Update your device drivers

Windows controls devices using device drivers. This includes the power management control on devices; because of this, it is important to ensure that you have the correct drivers installed for your devices.

You can use the Windows 10 Device Manager to update the drivers individually, or get the latest drivers from the PC manufacturer.

If you don’t have time or the know-how to properly select, download and install the drivers you need, you can try using DriverFinder.

DriverFinder will automatically recognize your system and find the correct and most-updated drivers for it.

  1. Click here to download and install DriverFinder.
  2. Click Activate to register your copy of DriverFinder.
  3. Click Start Scan to check for new drivers.
    df-driver-scan
  4. Download and install the latest device drivers specifically recommended for your system.
    download-audio-drivers
  5. Restart your PC or laptop.

Check the BIOS resume settings

Ok, this fix is really more for older PC systems. And although Windows 10 is not often run on older computers due to compatibility issues, I still want to mention it here, especially since many of these steps are also useful on troubleshooting the same issue on older Windows versions.

If the above fixes didn’t solve your Windows 10 PC won’t wake up from sleep mode, reboot your PC and go into the BIOS (press Esc, Del, or F2 during startup in most cases).

Look for the settings pertaining to the Resume from S3 By USB Device or something similar, and make sure the setting is Enabled. Please note that the location and name of the option depend on the BIOS version.

Allow USB wakup in BIOS

Note: If you are using a cabled mouse or keyboard with PS/2 connection (typical the green and purple connectors), then make sure to enable those options in the BIOS as well.

Press the F10 key to save the setting after changing it, and then reboot the computer.

Windows 10 PC won’t wake up from sleep mode – what if the problem is the monitor?

When Windows 10 wakes up from sleep mode, the PC starts, and the screen comes on. So what if the PC starts and it is only the screen that does not power up?

This is not something that would happen with laptops a lot, but in case of a desktop, it is very possible. The PC starts (you can either hear the fans or the hard disk spinning up), but there is no display.

The first thing to try is to simply turn off the monitor and turn it back on again. This way, you at least know that this is the problem you are dealing with. If that does not work, following are other possible solutions.

Monitor Settings

A common cause of the monitor not waking up from sleep is a setting called “auto-detect” on the monitor. This setting helps the monitor detect the signal on the connections and use the proper input for the video signal. Go into your monitor settings and disable this feature. After that try the wake up from sleep mode again and see if it is fixed.

Note: Instructions for this will vary a lot depending on the monitor type. In most cases there will be buttons on the monitor on the bottom or side of the monitor to access the settings.

More Power Settings

Windows 10 has some more advanced Power Options that control how power is saved and restore to the PC hardware. A setting that can affect the graphics card, and thus the monitor, is called Link State Power Management in the PCI Express category.

Disable this option with these steps:

  1. Open Power Options from the Control Panel.
  2. Select the option Change plan settings for the current power plan.
  3. Next, click the Change advanced power settings
  4. In the Power Options dialog box, in the Advanced Settings tab, scroll down to the PCI Express entry and click the + sign to open it.
  5. Now click Link State Power Management, and clickSetting to change it to Off.Link State Power Management
  6. Click OK to confirm, and close the open windows.

After this, try putting the computer to sleep again and wake it up to check if the monitor comes on as well.

Trigger the graphics driver to rebuild the screen

If the permanent settings in the earlier steps do not help with the problem of waking up the monitor, then triggering the graphics driver to refresh the screen could help.

This is actually a Microsoft recommended solution to deal with a black screen problem. Simply press the Windows Logo + Ctrl + Shift + B keys all at the same time.

The computer might beep, and the screen flash, but hopefully the monitor will show your Windows Desktop again.

This solution has been introduced with Windows Vista, when the Desktop Window Manager (DWM) was added to Windows. It acts like a graphics reset.

Check the monitor cable

This might seem like an odd suggestion. But it is definitely possible to have a defect or non-standard cable that causes the problem of the monitor not waking up on a Windows PC. If you have tried all other solutions, do consider this option too. Ideally, try a cable from which you know it works on a different system.

If you are using a converter for your PC display output to the monitor display input, you should also check it. Converters from Display Port, HDMI, DVI and VGA (and vice versa) are not always compatible with the power options offered by Windows 10.