How to remove duplicate icons from the Control Panel

A question from one of our readers: “After I first installed and then uninstalled Windows XP Service Pack 3, I noticed I had an extra Add or Remove Programs icon in the Control Panel. Both the icons are functional, but one of them shows a generic icon. How do I remove the duplicate icon?”

Windows XP Service Pack 3 issues an updated version of the appwiz.cpl file (5.1.2600.5512), while Service Pack 2 has 5.1.2600.2180. It is possible that Windows XP Service Pack 3 did not cleanup the older version of the appwiz.cpl from the system and ended up in multiple copies of the file, with different names.

When you open Control Panel, Windows loads any file with the .cpl extension present in the System32 folder, and from other locations defined by third-party applications, if any. If an existing .cpl file is copied to a new filename and has the .cpl extension, Control Panel will read both .cpl extensions and display duplicate icons and labels.

Finding duplicate Control Panel items

Click Start, Run and type:

cmd /k dir %windir%\system32\*.cpl /os

This lists all the .CPL files in the System32 folder, ordered by size so that it helps you find the duplicate items easier.

The duplicate item in this case is the appwiz(2).cpl file, which has a different file version but has the same file size as original. Note that the file size of the duplicate item may sometimes differ from original due to differences in file versions. Sorting the list by file size gives a close comparison.

Note down the file name of the duplicate item, and then delete the older version of file using Windows Explorer. You can check the file version by clicking on the .cpl file and choosing Properties.

Note: Windows loads .cpl files from the System32 folder, as well as from other locations specified by third-party software in the registry. Additionally, it lists the namespace items from the registry. For more details, read our tutorial How to remove invalid icons from Control Panel.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.