Three Little-Known Windows Accessories that Will Surprise You


Windows comes with quite a collection of accessories and system tools. But not all of them are obvious and you have to dig around to find them. Here are three less familiar accessories that I think will interest you.

Print Management Console

This tool is one of the Microsoft Management Consoles discussed in a previous tip. Print Management Console provides a number of detailed ways to manage your printers. It is present in Windows 7 and 8.x but not in the home versions. Note that this is not the same as the Devices and Printers applet and contains some advanced features for managing your printers and printer drivers.

The console can be opened by going to Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Print Management. Another way to access it is to open the Run line with the keyboard shortcut Winkey+R and enter “printmanagement.msc” (without quotes). The details of its use can be found in this article. Administrative privileges are required.

Math Input Panel

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know was in Windows 7 and 8. It’s called “Math Input Panel” and it provides a way to write mathematical expressions by hand with a mouse, digitizer pen or touch screen. Your handwritten formula can then be converted to text and easily inserted into a Microsoft Word document or any other program that supports Mathematical Markup Language.

To open Math Input Panel in Windows 7, enter “math” in the Start-search bar. It can also be found by opening the Start menu and going to All Programs -> Accessories ->Math Input Panel. In Windows 8, Math Input Panel can be reached from the Start Screen by typing “math” and clicking “Math Input Panel”.  You can also use the keyboard shortcut Winkey+Q to open Apps Search. Then enter “math” and click “Math Input Panel"

I found using the mouse to draw integral signs and partial differentiation operators to be tricky but it is interesting to play with. With a touch screen and a stylus, it might be even more interesting. This Microsoft article describes how to use the Math Input Panel.

Private Character Editor

This nifty accessory has languished in obscurity although it has been in every version of Windows since XP. I wrote an article on how to use Private Character Editor (PCE) many years ago and it is still applicable.  PCE allows you to create your own characters and to add them to one of the character sets that come with Windows.  You draw your characters on a grid that is 50 x50. There are tools similar to those in paint. There is a video about using PCE in Windows 8 at this YouTube link and an article for Windows 7 is here.

There are a number of ways to open PCE but one that works in all current versions of Windows is to use the Run box:

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut Winkey+R to open Run
  2. Enter “eudcedit” (without quotes)
  3. The editor will open

And there you have it – three of the hidden assets of Windows.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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Thank you for the tip, never new these existed, been using Windows for donkey's.

My wife is a hydrogeologist and a math whiz. She actually understands the Math Input Panel in a way to make it useful and even fun (for her). (for instructions: )

Will it somehow integrate with Excel by combining PCE and MIP? Who cares, but I will try it.

I find the Windows PCE to be a real hoot. Hope there is no Windows censor-bot to dampen the creativity.

We are running Windows 8.1 Pro OEM, and all of the mentioned programs work within it. Good Stuff!

P.S. Tried Pixlr Express by AutoDesk (free, no ads) on my Android running CM11 Maguro(nightly). Works very well! Says it will whiten my teeth... we'll see.

That was also a good tip from Gizmo's. You're on a roll....Thanks again.

I have Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit. "Math Input Panel" in Accessories is not there. I tried typing Math into the Start Menu Box. I also tried to search for it in the Control Panel. No luck. It can not be found.

If your windows is in another language "Math Input Panel" is probably translated. Read closely all the files in Accessories. In spanish is "Panel de entrada Matematica".

See the comments lower down.

I found tow copies of printmanagement.msc by searching on my Windows 8.1 laptop but neither one will run.

Maybe you have the Home edition.

Good tips, Vic... thank you! :-)


Did not work in my WIN 7 32bit

Can you help?

Do you have Home Premium?

Yes, Home Premium 32 bits 2GB RAM Win 7

"It is present in Windows 7 and 8.x but not in the home versions."

It does not work with your version.

There is a way turn on this feature but I won't detail how as it can cause serious problems. If you are capable of finding it via the usual methods you are probably capable of not breaking things.