Mark Minasi's Windows Networking Tech Page
Issue #83 January 2010

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    • Using Windows' "God Mode" Console
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News

Hi all —

Happy new year!  And with the new year comes the discovery of an undocumented-but-useful Windows feature that folks are calling the "god mode" console.   Sound a bit hyped?  Well, with that name, it is -- but it's still worth understanding.  Consider it a late Christmas present from Microsoft and I'll tell you all about it but first, a word from our sponsor:

Tech Section: Playing with the "God Mode" Easter Egg

A few days into the new year, word arrived about an interesting and newly-discovered Easter Egg in Windows 7 and 32-bit Vista that folks have named the "God Mode console" or "GMC."  God mode?  It's touted as a windows app that many bloggers have described as a single, does-it-all window to let you control everything about your computer and, with a bit of a stretch, one could call it that -- although you'd probably have to do Pilates every day before you could safely execute that stretch. 

More accurately, however, GMC is simply an Explorer window containing a single all-in-one-place listing of all control panel pages.  Even that, however, can be quite useful, as you can see from this screen shot.

In this picture, you can see a couple of things about the GMC.  First of all, is just a folder (albeit a special one, as we'll see), viewed with Explorer.  Here, I've arranged the window so that the portion you can see -- there are zillions of Control Panel settings, so there's no way I could show you the whole thing -- displays the items in the Network and Sharing Center.  Now, one of the places that I use the most in the Network and Sharing Center is the "View network connections" page.  It's the place where you get a list of all of your NICs, where you can bring up their network properties, re-order network bindings (a once-again valuable tool in a world where we'll soon all be doing both IPv4 and IPv6), and the like.  Normally it takes a few clicks to get to the "View network connections" page, but from the GMC, it's just one click so hey, that ain't bad.  What the GMC does not do, however, is show any "hidden" or "secret" features, as some Web pages have claimed. (Of course, the fastest way to get there is to just click Start and then type "ncpa.cpl" in the "Search programs and files" field, then press Enter.)

So how to get a GMC of your own?  Simple.

First, create a new folder.  You can do it anywhere on your computer -- any drive, second-level folders, you name it.

Second, name it anything.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} where anything can be, well, anything, any text.  Every Web page I've seen so far says that the anything text must be the phrase "godmode" but a look at my screen shot above shows that I named mine Hi.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} and it works just fine.

Now open up the folder, and voila, you've got a GMC.  But that's not all that you can do with it; I was sort of surprised to find that

  • Deleting it can be a problem.  In some experiments, I've been unable to delete the folder, and get an error that the folder's in use elsewhere, no matter how careful I am to shut down other Explorer and Control Panel windows.  In those cases, just rebooting let me delete the GMC folder.
  • You can do it on either an NTFS or FAT32 drive.
  • You can put it on a removable drive and carry it around.  Whether on a CF card, a USB stick, or an SDHC card, a GMC folder works like a charm when plugged into a compatible computer.
  • It responds to different views.  It comes up in Details view by default, but others work as well.  Try out List view, it's more concise.

Finally, which operating systems support a GMC?  I've made it work on

  • Windows 7 x64
  • Windows 7 x86
  • Vista x86
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition
  • Windows Server 2008 x86

It has not, however, worked on 64-bit Vista; trying to open an Explorer that contains one of the GMC folders causes Explorer to crash.  If that happens to you, just open up an elevated command prompt and type

rd /s /q

And then press "Tab" until the folder name like "Hi.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}" or whatever you named it to appears, then press the Enter key.  Also, you might do your experiments not with a folder at the root level, but instead a second-level folder -- create Hi.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} inside a folder named "c:\test" rather in c:\ so if you do end up with a system that doesn't like GMCs, you can still open up Explorer on C: without crashing Explorer.

I hope I've offered a bit of insight and a few ideas on using what might better be called the "flat-mode Control Panel View."  I'd love to hear of your experiences with it!

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