Creating Shortcuts to Feature Settings


Create shortcuts to feature settings to reduce the number of taps to reach them. Here's exactly what you do...

Here's part two of my now-famous shortcut trilogy. In this article, you'll learn how to create shortcuts to your most used feature settings so that they appear on the Programs screen. I'll provide the steps necessary to make this process as easy as possible.

Once a shortcut is on the Programs screen, you can move it to a number of places that are most convenient for you. And that's what I talk about in part three, "Shortcut Placement", of this trilogy. If you missed it, you may want to read part one, Creating Shortcuts to Your Apps and Files, where I show you how to create shortcuts to your applications and files.

Applies to:
   Microsoft Windows Powered Pocket PC 2000
   Microsoft ActiveSync
   An active connection with a desktop computer
   Notepad or other text editor
   Feature settings shortcut examples

Languages Supported

All languages are supported.

What is a Feature Setting?

Feature settings are the little programs that you use to change the settings for your Pocket PC, such as your password, screen contrast, memory, the PC Connection (this is the connection between your PC and Pocket PC), and other things. You access them by tapping your Start screen, then going to the Settings menu. And say you want the PC Connections settings, you would tap the Connections tab to see the PC Connection settings icon (Figure 1). Depending upon which setting you want on which tab, it can take a few taps to get there.

Figure 1: Settings screen with Connections tab selected. This is how you access it now, through your Start menu.

There is a better way. Instead, you can create shortcuts and access your most often used settings from the Start menu, as you see PC Connections in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2: Start menu showing a shortcut to PC Connection settings, just above Windows Media.

So let's create a settings shortcut on our Programs screen. Later we can move it to our Start menu. It's really done in a series of steps.

  1. First, we create the shortcut text file.
  2. Then we copy it over to our device, where it will appear on the Programs screen, which of course you access from the Start menu.
  3. From there, part three of my shortcut trilogy will help you move the shortcut from Programs to the Start menu.

But first, let's find out what's behind the scenes that makes the shortcut work.

What are these Shortcuts Made of?

This reminds me of the old nursery rhyme "What little boys and girls are made from?" Except instead of sugar and spice and everything nice we have pound signs and commas and numbers galore. Creating these shortcuts is a little involved. However, don't worry, even if you make a mistake it will not cause any damage to your Pocket PC. Moreover, I'll be right here, with these easy steps for you to follow.

Now, to answer the question: Shortcuts to feature settings are very short plain text files with some text in them. These text files are actually very similar to a standard Pocket PC shortcut, just a little more complicated to create. I will explain the format of these text files then give a few examples. Figure 3 shows what the text file looks like.

Figure 3: Notepad with shortcut file open, showing the text line that makes up a shortcut.

Specifically, Figure 3 shows Notepad with the shortcut file, "PC Connection.lnk" open for editing.

Here It Is: The Heart of the File

This type of shortcut is one line of text. Just follow this format:

nn#ctlpnl cplmain.cpl,i,0<CR>

Explanation of Text Line

nn# Replace the nn variable with the number representing the total size, in characters — including spaces — in the line of text following the # (pound) sign.
ctlpnl cplmain.cpl, This is the program to be executed. For feature settings, this will always be the same. Don't forget the comma. It is necessary to separate the command from its parameters.
i Replace the i variable with the index number of the feature setting you wish to run (Table 1).
,0 This is the variable for the optional tab number to select. (I'll explain what "tab numbers" are in just a minute.) Numbering for tabs starts at zero (0). The tab here is only necessary if you are specifying a tab number; otherwise it doesn't need to be specified. So you may omit this part of the text line entirely if it's not needed.
&ltCR> This represents a carriage return. Instead of a true carriage return, today we depress the Enter key. (In other words, don't include the literal in your file.)

As you can see, it's pretty logical. Now let's look at the variables in the text line and figure out what yours ought to say.

Feature Application Index Numbers (i)

Several items in Table 1 do not work on certain devices. I have indicated these items with the red N in the columns next to the function.

Index Number Feature Setting Compaq iPAQ HP Jornada Casio Cassiopeia
0 Contrast N Y N
1 Password Y Y Y
2 Owner Information Y Y Y
3 Power Y Y Y
4 Memory Y Y Y
5 About Y Y Y
6 Backlight N Y N
7 Align Screen Y Y Y
8 Input Method Y Y Y
9 Sounds & Reminders Y Y Y
10 Remove Programs Y Y Y
11 Menus Y Y Y
12 Buttons Y Y Y
13 Today Settings Y Y Y
14 PC Connections Y Y Y
15 Modem Connections Y Y Y
16 Clock Y Y Y
17 Network Connections Y Y Y
18 Regional Settings Y Y Y

Table 1: Index numbers for the feature settings and device applicability.

Tab Number

The tab number is optional. If the particular feature doesn't have a tab to access its setting, you simply end the text line by depressing the Enter key.

Or, if the particular program you wish to set up with a shortcut has several tabs for its settings, this parameter will allow you to specify which tab you would like to go to for the desired setting. Tab numbering starts with zero (0). So the left-most tab is zero, then the next tab to the right is one, the next is two, and so forth. See Figure 4, where I circled the tabs to show what I mean.

Figure 4: Sounds & Reminders settings with the category Tabs circled.

For Volume the parameter would be 0, Sounds would be 1, and for Reminders you would use 2.

Some Examples

These examples may save you some time in figuring the text line. You'll find more in the downloadable .ZIP file. I recommend it!

Feature Setting Shortcut Text
Password Setting 20#ctlpnl cplmain.cpl,1
Modem Connections / Connections Tab (Default) 21#ctlpnl cplmain.cpl,15
Modem Connections / Dialing Tab 23#ctlpnl cplmain.cpl,15,1
PC Connections 21#ctlpnl cplmain.cpl,14

Table 2: Shortcut text examples you may find helpful.

Creating the Feature Settings Shortcut

Now that we understand what goes into a settings shortcut, let's create one. This requires a text editor, such as Notepad, which is included with Microsoft Windows(r). For the purposes of this example, I will use Notepad. Just follow these simple steps to set up a shortcut to the PC Connection settings and you'll have your own feature setting shortcut in no time at all.

Creating Your Shortcut File

From your desktop computer:

  1. Select Run from the Windows Start menu
  2. Type notepad.exe.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Enter the text line, as described above, into your new Notepad file. We will use the "PC Connection" feature setting as our example. The last row in Table 2 above shows the text needed for this shortcut.
  5. Select Save As from the File menu.
  6. Type "PC Connection.lnk" as the filename, without the quotes. Save it to C:\ or any directory you wish. The rest of this article will assume you saved the file to C:\.
  7. Click Save.
  8. Select Exit from the File menu.

You have just created your first feature setting shortcut. Aren't you excited! Now we need to get this shiny new shortcut to your device.

Copying Your New Settings Shortcut to Your Device

  1. Still at your desktop, select Run from the Windows Start menu.
  2. Type explorer.exe.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Navigate to C:\.
  5. Locate and select the "PC Connection.lnk" file you created.
  6. Select Copy from the Edit menu.
  7. Open your ActiveSync window.
  8. From the ActiveSync toolbar select the Explore button, second from the right. Alternatively, you can select Explore from the File menu.
  9. When Windows Explorer loads, navigate to \My Pocket PC, then to the device's \Windows\Start Menu\Programs folder.
  10. Select Paste Shortcut from the Windows Explorer Edit menu. This will paste your new shortcut as "PC Connection.lnk" into the current folder.

Now the shortcut will appear in the Programs screen, as you see below in Figure 5. From there we can place it on the Start menu. That's where you'll need to go to part three that describes "Shortcut Placement".

Figure 5: Our new Windows flag icon for the shortcut to the PC Connection settings.

Not All Pocket PCs are Created Equal

Not all devices operate exactly the same way. I have made my best attempts at finding these out and locating some solutions for each of the main devices. You'll remember these exceptions from Table 1 above where features were sometimes marked with a N.

Compaq iPAQ

The Contrast feature setting shortcut as described above does not function on the Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC.

Creating a shortcut to the Backlight feature setting as described above will not function on the Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC. Don't despair; there is another way to accomplish the same thing.

To correct the Backlight feature setting shortcut problem replace the text "cplmain.cpl" with "backlight.cpl." This will bring up the backlight feature setting. The tab parameter appears to have no effect when running this shortcut.

HP Jornada

No known issues.

Casio Cassiopeia

The Contrast feature setting shortcut as described above does not function on the Casio Pocket PC. I performed my test on an EM-500; if you have another Casio device, your results may vary.

The same is true for the Backlight feature setting shortcut.


Not all functions work on all devices. I tried many variations to get contrast to work on an iPAQ. No matter what I tried, nothing worked. In addition, the tab parameter doesn't always work for all the feature settings. Your own results may vary.

It is not possible to set a unique icon for these shortcuts. They will always have the default Windows flag icon displayed, see Figure 5. The text label tells you what the shortcut is for. This may not be attractive, but it is just as functional.

Not a Gotcha really, but you may have already guessed that now your PC Connection settings can be accessed from two places. This remains until you remove the shortcut.

  1. In its original location you found by tapping Start, then Settings, then Connections.
  2. Its new location on the Programs screen, as you saw in Figure 5.


For your convenience I have included a downloadable .zip file, Feature Settings Shortcut Examples, with a shortcut to each of the feature settings I list above. Read the "Read Me.1st" file for further details on each file.

In the last installment to this three-part series, I explain the best place to put your new shortcuts, whether it's an application shortcut or a feature setting shortcut.