Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Windows 7 "God Mode" Not Quite So Godly

A tweak for Windows 7 has been making the rounds of the Internet. It's been labeled the Windows 7 "God Mode," but unlike "God Mode" in a game, it's not so godly after all.

The tweak is enabled by creating a new folder and naming it with a certain text string at the end. The string is {ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}. The reason it's been named GodMode is because it first started circulating with the name GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}. In reality, the part before .{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} can be replace by any string. The folder icon that you see after renaming the folder will then appear to be a Control Panel.

How does this work? Well, those who delve in the recesses of Windows will recognize {ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} as a GUID. What you've actually done by doing the above is unlocked a developer feature.
First, you’ve discovered a documented feature of the shell whereby filesystem folders can be easily made into namespace junctions, as described here on MSDN. Basically, any folder named . will show up with just the portion visible in Explorer, and navigating into the folder will take you to the namespace root defined by the portion of the name. This isn’t a user feature, it’s a developer feature.

The second thing you’ve discovered is the “All Tasks” folder. This is a special shell folder which is used as the source of the “Control Panel” search results seen in the Start menu. This folder was not designed to be browsed to directly, as the normal Control Panel folder (accessible via Start -> Control Panel) contains all the same items but with a custom view designed to be easier to navigate. The “All Tasks” folder has no custom view, so you just see the standard Explorer list view and little else.

In fact, it turns out the God Mode really doesn't expose anything you can't already find in the Control Panel. It just displays it in a list view.

Still, it might be fun to play around with. In fact, this same trick works with Windows Vista (and was previously discovered at the "Master Control Panel"). However, while it works with 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 7, it crashes 64-bit Windows Vista. There is an apparent fix for the 64-bit crash here.

Naturally, since this is a developer tweak, Microsoft isn't going to support it for the general public. And quite obviously, this is something you should play around with care.
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