Enable the Secret “How-to Geek” Mode in Windows 7

There exists a little feature within Windows 7 that enables its users to access every single Control Panel function on a single page. This is known as the Secret How-To Geek Mode. Keep in mind, however, this is exclusive to Windows 7; this has the potential to break Windows Vista if utilized there.

Luckily, there is an escape button if this was already attempted on Vista. Start the task manager using Ctrl + Shift + Esc, go to File / Run, and start the command prompt. Through there, the folder can be deleted that was created in attempting to activate the Secret How-To Geek Mode by using the rmdir command.

Now on to the physically demanding part; on the desktop, simply create a new folder and name it “How-To Geek.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}” without the quotes. That was not so difficult, was it? The Secret How-To Geek Mode has officially been created. With the renaming of the folder, the icon should change.

Double clicking this will open up the massive list of every Control Panel function available to Windows 7 users. In truth, this is nothing more than a “stupid geek trick,” so to speak, since it goes without saying that it would be far easier to navigate the Control Panel than this giant list of functions. In fact, it is not exactly a “Secret How-To Geek Mode” either.

Windows uses GUIDS, or Globally Unique Identifiers. When creating a folder that has a GUID extension that is recognized by Windows, it will launch whatever is assigned to that ID in the registry. In fact, go ahead and open the registry now to see what this article explains.

Run regedit.exe. Under the HKEY CLASSES ROOT \ CLSID section, search for {ED7BA470-8354-465E-825C-99712043E01C}. The right hand pane should show that the default definition of this GUID is “All Tasks.” Opening a folder with the extension of this GUID subsequently opens all tasks available.

This method can be used with other GUIDS. For example, if one were to search for the Recycle Bin function under the HKEY CLASSES ROOT \ CLSID section, eventually coming across the {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E} folder, this could also be opened through a desktop folder. Create a folder called, for example, “The Geek Knows Deleted Files.{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}” without the quotes.

Upon changing the name, the icon should change to the default Recycle Bin icon. It is even a fully functional Recycle Bin at that; right click the new icon and find that it has all of the functions of a normal Recycle Bin.

As previously stated, this can be used in just about any folder lying around in the Registry. The following is a list of other potentially useful folders that could be used:

  • My Computer: {20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}
  • Network Connections: {7007ACC7-3202-11D1-AAD2-00805FC1270E}
  • User Accounts: {60632754-C523-4B62-B45C-4172DA012619}
  • Libraries: {031E4825-7B94-4DC3-B131-E946B44C8DD5}

To use these through a folder, simply follow the syntax AnyTextDesired.{GUID} and it should work just fine.

It is also possible to create shortcuts for the same purpose rather than just create a folder. To do this, simply start creating a shortcut on the desktop as normal. GUID points to Windows objects created by Windows Explorer, so the shortcut is possible when opening GUID. When prompted for the shortcut name, type in the GUID. For example, to create a shortcut for the Secret How-To Geek Mode, type in “explorer ::ED7BA470-8354-465E-825C-99712043E01C}” without the quotes. This will create the shortcut with the option to customize the icon.

It is not technically a useful trick, especially for those who call themselves geeks, but it never hurts to learn new things, especially one that might impress a friend or two.