XP Secrets - All Secrets Hidden In Windows XP

Windows XP is an operating system that was produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, and media centers. It was first released to computer manufacturers on August 24, 2001, and is the most popular version of Windows, based on installed user base. The name "XP" is short for "eXPerience.

Did you know that XP has some secrets? In another words, Easter Eggs! (A hidden message or feature in an application) This guide covers unknown features in Windows XP, some are carryovers from older versions of Windows, all were tested in Windows XP only. Windows XP is still supported by Microsoft through April 8, 2014.

Windows XP Application Secrets

Secret: Hidden Command Line Switch
Instructions: Go to "Start", "Run" and Type defrag c: -b to defragment the Boot and Application Prefetch information.

Notes: Windows XP will run this automatically every three days or so, during system idle periods. BootVis will evoke this when you run the "Optimize System" function. There is no need to manually run this unless you wish to immediately optimize a newly installed application's load time.

Secret: Hidden Install Creator
Instructions: Go to StartRun, type iexpress

Notes: IExpress is a technology designed to simplify creation of a setup program. Using the step-by-step IExpress Wizard, you can create self-extracting files that automatically run the setup program contained inside. The setup program can be an .inf file or an executable program. IExpress technology automatically removes the setup files after installation, saving the user time and frustration.

MS-DOS Editor
Secret: Hidden Text Editor
Instructions: Go to StartRun, type edit

Notes: Windows XP comes with another text editor besides Notepad - it's called the MS-DOS Editor, and it's commonly referred to simply as Edit. It has features similar to Notepad, as well as additional features such as the ability to work with multiple text files and change the background and text colors.

Secret: Hidden Internet Conference Application
Instructions: Go to StartRun, type conf

Notes: Windows XP is the last version of Microsoft Windows to include NetMeeting. NetMeeting delivers a complete Internet conferencing solution for all Windows users with multi-point data conferencing, text chat, whiteboard, and file transfer, as well as point-to-point audio and video.

Secret 1: Create a Log File
Instructions: Launch Notepad, Type .LOG on the first line, and then press Enter to move to the next line. On the File menu, click Save As, type a descriptive name for your file in the File name box, and then click OK. When you next open the file, note that the date and time have been appended to the end of the log, immediately preceding the place where new text can be added. You can use this functionality to automatically add the current date and time to each log entry.

Secret 2: Bush!
Instructions: Launch Notepad and type the following sentence: Bush hid the facts Now save the file as anything you like, close it and open it again. What do you see?

If you did this in Windows XP, you probably see some weird unicode characters or Chinese characters like in the screenshot above.

Notes: The explanation for this bug lies in the Windows function ‘IsTextUnicode’. When a text file is encoded in Windows-1252 it is interpreted as UTF-16LE, resulting in the so-called mojibake. It means that Notepad recognizes unicode characters representing Chinese characters and translates them back into Chinese characters.

This is an encoding issue, any combination of characters in the same order 4-3-3-5 will cause the same problem.

Reality: "Notepad makes a best guess of which encoding to use when confronted with certain short strings of characters that lack special prefixes. The encodings that do not have special prefixes and which are still supported by Notepad are the traditional ANSI encoding (i.e., "plain ASCII") and the Unicode (little-endian) encoding with no BOM. When faced with a file that lacks a special prefix, Notepad is forced to guess which of those two encodings the file actually uses. The function that does this work is IsTextUnicode, which studies a chunk of bytes and does some statistical analysis to come up with a guess. Sometimes it guesses wrong and displays random characters after you save and open the file. Any combination of characters in the same order 4-3-3-5 will cause the same problem: "Bill lie and cheat" "this app can break", "hhhh hhh hhh hhhhh", "this isa bug dummy" ect..."

Secret 1: Image Trails
Instructions: Open an image and hold down Shift then drag the image around to create an image trail.

Secret 2: 10x Zoom
Instructions: Open an image and select the magnifying glass icon. Left-Click exactly on the line below the 8x.

Private Character Editor
Secret: Hidden Font Editor
Instructions: Go to StartRun, type eudcedit

Notes: You can use Private Character Editor to create unique letters and logos for your font library.

Windows Chat
Secret: Hidden Windows Chat Program
Instructions: Go to StartRun, type winchat

Notes: You can use Windows Chat on your computer to communicate with someone on another computer. Both computers must be connected to the same network (for example, a local area network [LAN] or the Internet). Also, each computer must be running a similar protocol, such as TCP/IP.

Windows Media Player 5.1
Secret: Hidden Windows Media Player
Instructions: Go to StartRun, type mplay32

Windows Media Player 6.4
Secret: Hidden Windows Media Player
Instructions: Go to StartRun, type mplayer2

Notes: Windows Media Player 6.4 (Classic) is installed along with Windows Media Player 7. The only update is that it now supports the latest codecs.

Windows XP Game Secrets

Secret 1: Instant Win
Instructions: Hold down Ctrl + Shift + F10 during game play. Then you will be asked if you want to Abort,Retry or Ignore. Choose Abort, then move any card to instantly win! See below screenshot:

Secret 2: Hidden Game Modes
Instructions: In the "Game" menu choose "Select Game". Enter -1 or -2 to activate the hidden game modes.

Secret: Show All Cards
Instructions: Go to StartRun, Type: RegeditOK. Edit this registry key:


Right click on the Hearts folder, select NewString Value and name it ZB. Right-click on ZB, select Modify and enter a Value Data of 42OK and close Regedit. Start Hearts (not Internet Hearts). Once in a game PressCtrl + Alt + Shift + F12 to show all the cards. See following screenshot.

Secret 1: Reveal Mines
Instructions: Minimize or close all running applications. Launch Minesweeper, then type xyzzy. Next hold down either shift key for one second. Now when you move the mouse cursor over a Minesweeper square you will see a tiny white pixel in the top left corner of your desktop screen. This pixel will change to black when your mouse moves over a mine. You may need to change you desktop background to a solid color other than white or black to see the pixel.

Secret 2: Stop Timer
Instructions: Launch Minesweeper and start a game so the timer starts counting, then press the Windows Key + D to show the desktop. Now when you select minesweeper from the taskbar you can continue playing with the timer stopped.

Secret 1: Extra Balls
Instructions: Type 1max at the start of a new ball to get extra balls.

Secret 2: Gravity Well
Instructions: Type gmax at the start of a new game to activate the Gravity Well.

Secret 3: Instant Promotion
Instructions: Type rmax at the start of a new game to go up in ranks.

Secret 4: Skill Shot
Instructions: Launch the ball partially up the chute past the third yellow light bar so it falls back down to get 75,000 points. There are six yellow light bars that are worth a varying amount of points:

First: 15,000 points
Second: 30,000 points
Third: 75,000 points
Fourth: 30,000 points
Fifth: 15,000 points
Sixth: 7,500 points

Secret 5: Test Mode
Instructions: Type hidden test at the start of a new ball to activate Test Mode. No notification will be given that this is activated but you can now left-click the mouse button and drag the ball around. While in test mode press the following keys for more secrets:

H - Get a 1,000,000,000 High Score (see screenshot above!)
M - Shows the amount of system memory
R - Increases your rank in game
Y - Shows the Frames/sec rate

Secret 6: Unlimited Balls
Instructions: Type bmax at the start of a new ball. No notification will be given that this is activated but when a ball is lost a new ball will appear from the yellow wormhole indefinitely. Once this is activated you will be unable to activate other secrets without restarting the game.

Secret 1: Instant Win
Instructions: Press Alt + Shift + 2 during game play to instantly win.

Secret 2: Draw single cards in a Draw Three game
Instructions: Hold down CTRL + ALT + SHIFT while drawing a new card. Instead of drawing three cards you will only draw one.

Windows XP OS Secrets

Secret: Hidden Uninstall Options
Instructions: (Warning: Proceed at your own risk!) Browse to C:\Windows\inf\ and make a backup copy ofsysoc.inf. Then open the original file C:\Windows\inf\sysoc.inf in notepad. Go to "Edit" and select "Replace". In "Find what:" type ,hide and in "Replace with:" type , then select "Replace All", save and close the file. Go to the "Control Panel", "Add/Remove", select "Add/Remove Windows Components". You will now see many more Windows components to uninstall. Do not remove anything with no label or that you do not recognize or fully understand what it does. Doing so can break certain functionality in Windows.

Control Panel
Secret: Hidden Control Panel Extensions
Instructions: Download and install TweakUI, launch, go to "Control Panel" and check any item not selected, then "Apply" and "OK". You will now see the hidden control panel extensions.

Device Manager
Secret 1: Hidden Devices
Instructions: Go to the "Control Panel", "System" icon, "Hardware" tab and select "Device Manager". Select "View" and Show hidden devices.

Secret 2: Phantom Devices
Instructions: Go to "Start", "Programs", "Accessories" and select "Command Prompt". At the command prompt, type "set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1" and press Enter. At the command prompt, type "start devmgmt.msc" and press Enter. Select "View" and Show hidden devices. You can see devices that are not connected to the computer.

Notes: When you close the command prompt window, Windows clears the "devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1" variable that you set and prevents phantom devices from being displayed when you select "Show hidden devices".

MIDI Files
Secret: Hidden MIDI Files
Instructions: Browse to C:\Windows\Media and you will find 3 hidden MIDI files:

- flourish.mid
- onestop.mid
- town.mid

Notes: "MIDI" stands for "Musical Instrument Digital Interface" - A compression format for encoding music.

Secret: Music from the Installer
Instructions: Browse to C:\Windows\system32\oobe\images\title.wma and play.

Notes: "OOBE" stands for "Out-of-Box Experience".

Secret: Display Hibernate Option on the Shut Down dialog
Instructions: Go to "Start", "Turn Off Computer" and press either Shift key to change the "Stand By" button to "Hibernate". The Hibernate option must be enabled.

Support Tools
Secret: Over 100 Windows XP Support Utilities are on the install CD
Instructions for Pre-SP2 users: If you do not have SP2 installed, put the original Windows XP CD in the CD-ROM Drive, run the :\Support\Tools\setup.exe file.
Instructions for SP2 users: If you have SP2 installed, Download the Windows XP Service Pack 2 Support Tools and install.

Naming & Renaming Folders
Secret: Renaming Bug 
Instructions: For the first one, try to create a folder named CON and you will see the following thing happening: (In Windows XP there is no error message, you just can't rename!)

The same thing happens when you try any of the following names:


Note: All of the above names are reserved device names, which cannot be used as file names or folder names, regardless of the file extension. This is a relic from DOS, which has made its way through all versions of Windows, including Windows XP, Vista and 7.

Windows Calculator
Secret: Calculator
Instructions: Let’s do some basic maths together. Please use your head first.

- What is the square root of four? It’s two, isn’t it?
- And what do you get if you subtract two from two? Zero, right?

Now let’s do the above calculation using the Windows calculator. Type in 4, take the square root and from the result subtract 2. What do you get now?

Windows XP Result

See why they don’t want you to use calculators at school?

Windows 7 Result

Notes: To my knowledge, there is no explanation for this result. The operation returns different numbers in different versions of Windows, so it’s possibly a bug by design or an Easter Egg and not some weird functional error. What was your result?

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