That “God mode” Explorer trick does less than you think

Dwight Silverman has an interesting blog post today based on a tweak published at The original post and Dwight’s headline all refer to this as a way to Enable God Mode in Windows 7. The reality is much more prosaic.

The tweak itself is fairly simple: Create a new folder (on the desktop is a good place) and paste this string in as the name:


The shortcut icon for the folder changes to the icon for Control Panel, and double-clicking it displays a folder full of tasks, a snippet of which is shown here:


Miraculous? God-like? Uh, no.


The back half of that mysterious shortcut is actually a globally unique identifier (GUID) that points to a shell folder, in this case Control Panel. The segment at the beginning can be whatever text you want it to be. The resulting list simply opens Control Panel in Windows Explorer, displaying all available tasks and allowing you to group them using standard Explorer techniques. Way back in Windows XP Inside Out we wrote about techniques for creating shell folder views in Explorer using GUIDs; we dropped that coverage in Windows Vista Inside Out and Windows 7 Inside Out because there were other, more useful tasks to explain in our Explorer chapters.

All of the tasks in the "God Mode" list are already available in Control Panel. There is not a single new or hidden tweak here. Many of them are listed under the different category headings there. Some of the specific task links appear only in response to a search for a specific keyword; they represent alternate entry points to tasks that you might not find easily using the conventional navigation. Here, let me give you an example. The image below shows two side-by-side lists of tasks. The one on the left is the one in the folder you create using the Control Panel GUID. The one on the right is what you see if you go to Control Panel and type user in the search box.


See the similarities?

In fact, once you have the entire task list open in Windows Explorer, you can poke around in it and find out how the Control Panel search functionality works. For example, try grouping the list of tasks by Keywords (right-click any empty space and choose Keywords from the Group By menu). That view lets you see exactly what appears when you enter a specific term in the Control Panel search box. Here’s an example:


Notice how the designers of this feature anticipated common misspellings, so if you misspell privileges you still might get the results you’re looking for.

So, bottom line, is this tweak useful? I guess if you like lists, it might be. But you can already find every item on this list by simply typing a keyword in the search box on the Start menu or in Control Panel, which strikes me as being much easier.

25 thoughts on “That “God mode” Explorer trick does less than you think

  1. I came back and click on thee shortcut couple hours later and it took me to the normal control panel.

    So that kind of stinks.

  2. The list mode is useful for power users. Moderately. It does prevent me from shuffling about trying to find what I want.

  3. well, yes, you are right, of course, and you are wrong at the same time.
    The list allows me to see all available functions in one list, nicely grouped by topics, without having to click around extensively or guessing the right keyword for the search function.
    It may be me, but I’ll find that easier.
    So, thank you for showing me an alternative entry point to all the standard tools available to me.

  4. Who the hell cares. This is frigging awesome.

    Unless offcourse reading has now become a skill reserved for technical geeks and university-professors.

  5. Ignoring the silly name, the tweak could be useful for people who want to work through all the control panels ensuring everything is configured as they want or just to discover what can be configured.

    The first thing I want to do with a new OS is go through all the control panels. With Vista and Windows 7 that’s difficult as there is no clear, linear way to go through them all. Many of control panels are now nested, only normally discoverable through side-links or buttons in other panels. There are loops and repetitions in those links, too, so finding every panel is a bit of a mental exercise.

    Being able to search the control panels is fantastic once you know what’s there, though.

  6. The “common misspelling toleration” feature is very smart. But I’d like to ask if the designer is aware of one issue.

    The “Search/Start Search” feature is very pointless for us, system admins who “lives in” Multi-UI-language environments, i.e. Windows in different languages. Because on NON-ENGLISH Windows Vista/7, the Start Search feature is very ineffective, due to the fact it doesn’t recognize English names but just whatever language the UI is set to, as items aren’t displayed in English.

    We have to go back to the old days — the now-hidden “Run”, and enter exactly the command to get to where we want to be.

    For example, instead of remembering “Program and Features”, we remember appwiz.cpl, for support of non-English Windows

  7. Something I mentioned on Dwight’s site: it crashed my explorer. I do not have information about why it should do that, but the older articles mentioned in the comments above (when somebody did the same in vista) also mention the possibility of the trick crashing the explorer.
    removing the folder gets you back on track.


  8. I’m impressed. It’s much easier to wade through settings when you see them all, rather than hiding them behind more and more options. I’ll use this, probably a lot.

  9. I also think this is much more usefull than wading through hoops and bureaucratic windows (pun intended). Thanks for the pointer.

  10. The search features are great but sometimes if you don’t know exactly what you happen to be looking for a complete listing is more helpful. Added this to my desktop.

  11. Cool tool, useful for power users, geeks and wannabes, not so much for those who just use their machines for standard stuff. I have had it available for a few weeks, use it occasionally, none of my customers have 7 yet so it’s not too useful for them but a lot are planning to upgrade so I see lots of use for it in the future.

  12. In case anyone is as careless as me and installs on a 64 bit Windows Server 2008 operating system, I had to go to Safe Mode Command Prompt, login as another user, rename the folder I’d created (on the original profile). It would not delete until I’d renamed it. Doh!

  13. Ed’s on drugs! This is the most incredible feature I have ever seen. It like turns my Win7 into a Win95 like interface. Who could want more? Now I’m gonna party like it’s 1999. 😉

  14. Note to Microsoft… this should be a standard Control Panel View by option, i.e.:

          View by: Details


          View by: Administrator
  15. Great…finally a listing of all those hidden settings hiding behind tabbed pages and “more” or “advanced” buttons. Finding settings in the Control Panel is a nightmare when you only go in once a year to change your IP Address, DNS Server IP address or some similar item. Where was that anyway?

    I concur with last post…a full list mode should be a standard Control Panel view option.

  16. XP has this as a Folder Option. On the View tab you can check “Show Control Panel in My Computer” (Removed in Vista).

    The Control Panel namespace gets automatic categories that show up in the left panel tree structure like “Administrative Tools”, “Fonts”, “Network Connections”, etc. plus the folder shows all the Control Panel applets along with descriptive comments for each.

    This tip got most of its wings from sounding like it’s something better than it is. But its momentum may be driven by MS’s own reorganization of Explorer and namespaces that makes exploring and maintaining Win7 seem a bit too complicated.

  17. Dear ED.

    Tried the above God Mode tip on Windows XPsp2 and it just comes up ‘Windows cannot open this file. To open this file, Windows has to know what program created it. Do you want to choose the program from a list?’ and I don’t know what program to choose!

    I copied the name accurately from your article and created a new folder on the desktop and used the copied name for its name like you said. Why doesn’t it work?

    Yours puzzledly – wouldn’t mind a reply, can’t delete the folder now either!

    Christopher Burke (

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