The primary control Britain used over the colonies was Economic control under Britain's economic policy of Mercantilism. Certain goods could only be shipped to Britain under the Navigation Acts, or could only be shipped on British ships. Others bound for other ports had to dock first in Britain. For the same reason, the colonies were not allowed to engage in large scale manufacturing (they were to be a source of markets for Britain and also a source of raw materials) nor coin their own money.
Otherwise, the colonies were granted a substantial degree of self government. They were able to elect their own Colonial legislatures, and although the Governor was appointed by the Crown and had veto power over any legislative decisions, the legislatures paid the governor's salary, which gave them some control over them. Soldiers were not quartered in the colonies until wartime, nor was any attempt made to tax them until Britain encountered the substantial expenses of the Seven Years War.