Tip: Master Control Panel

Shortcuts & tips from an Impatient DBA #9

This series of short posts will demonstrate some lesser-known features, keyboard shortcuts, and other tips that make my day as a DBA more productive. None of these are groundbreaking super-secret features–they are the little things that I do as part of my daily work that make me more efficient.


Master Control Panel

The other day, I saw this tweet from Buck Woody (twitter|blog):

I wasn’t going to second guess Buck, so I gave it a shot.



What kind of voodoo black magic has Buck Woody cast upon my machine?!

That shortcut Buck tweeted about creates a virtual folder with every Control Panel option flattened out, available at a top-level. No need to dig through multiple screens & options to get where you want to go. I’m sold. But how’s it work?

Turns out, I’m just late to the party. The Windows Master Control Panel is a hack that was first discovered in 2007 on Vista. There’s even a Wikipedia Article about it. Microsoft has even published instructions & documentation on how to create a virtual folder using an extension’s class identifier (CLSID). What’s a class identifier? I think of them as Magic GUIDs. (Microsoft lists them as “Canonical Names of Control Panel Items” but that’s way less fun.)

It really is as simple as creating a new folder and naming it Name.{MagicGUID} and you can have a shortcut to either the top-level Master Control Panel (the GUID Buck tweeted about), or a specific Control Panel item (using the Magic GUID link above). Note that as of today (Aug 2015), Microsoft hasn’t updated that list with Windows 10 GUIDs.

Some are version or edition specific, so for example the Windows Update GUID won’t work on Windows 10 (We’ll see if there’s a new GUID published soon), and the MPIO GUID only works on a Server OS.

Thanks, Buck. Even if I’m 8 years late to the party, this is going to be super helpful.