You could run control (panel) from where ever you want, cmd or start menu. What happens if you run it via control in a command prompt:- The cmd.exe is searching for an executable file with name "control" and an extension that you will find in the %pathext% environment variable. The places where it is searching are 1. the current working directory 2. all pathes you will find in the %path% environment variable The first found file will be executed. In your case it is usually "C:\Windows\System32\control.exe" which opens the "control panel". I'm not quite sure about your 2nd question. If you type control panel into the cmd prompt then it will also run "control.exe". The word "panel" is interpreted and transferred as a parameter for "control.exe" but it will be ignored. Hence nothing else happens than opening the control panel window just like without the word "panel".