How to Launch Command Prompt or Other Programs Using “Ease of Access” Button at Login Screen in Windows Vista and Later?
Recently an AskVG reader "zydrius sMiLe" contacted me and asked me how can he remove or hide "Get help" button from Windows Explorer's Command Bar (aka Folder Band or Toolbar) in Windows 7? You can see this button present at the extreme right-side of the Command Bar in Windows Vista and Windows 7 Explorer. Once you click on it, it opens Windows Help window.
I tried to find its code using my favorite Resource Hacker tool. I first tried to look into Shell32.dll file and it was the right file luckily. I found the code and removed it. I compiled and saved the file, restarted Windows and BOOM!!! Windows crashed at login screen and I couldn't log into Desktop. Since it crashed Explorer, I also couldn't access Task Manager. I had to enter into Recovery Console and restored the default file.
I again tried many times, I tried to modify the code but each time I restarted, it crashed Windows at login screen.
Anyway that's a different story but I'm sharing it with you all because this incident gave me an interesting idea. Since I was able to reach login screen but couldn't log into Desktop, I thought that wouldn't it be great if we could get access to Command Prompt at login screen so that we can restore files or run other commands in case we are unable to log into Windows.
Actually it happens many times when Windows crashes at login screen due to corrupt or missing system files and the only way to fix this kind of problem is to restore system or repair or reinstall Windows.
So it would be really great if we can launch Command Prompt at login screen and then we'll be able to restore default system files if our modified file doesn't work properly.
I know it would be a security risk and other people can execute commands to reset password, create or remove user accounts, etc using Command Prompt at login screen but it would not be the case if you are the only user of your computer.
Now the question comes how can we access Command Prompt at login screen? Simple! By changing "Ease of Access" button action. Windows login screen contains an "Ease of Access" button present at the bottom-left corner which launches Ease of Access window to help you in making your system easier to use by enabling narrator, magnifier, etc.
Actually its target file is stored in "Windows\System32" folder with the name "utilman.exe" so if we replace this file with Command Prompt's exe file "cmd.exe", we can get access to Command Prompt at login screen by clicking on Ease of Access button.
The bonus part is that we can not only replace it with Command Prompt's exe file but we can also replace it with any other desired EXE file such as Solitaire game's exe file, MS Paint, Notepad, etc.
So we can replace it with Solitaire game and then it would not be a security risk at all and guest users who don't know the password, can pass their time by playing the game until you type the correct password for them.
So if you also want to replace Ease of Access button with your favorite program or Command Prompt, please follow these simple steps:
1. Open Windows Explorer and go to C:\Windows\System32 folder. Here C: is the system drive where Windows is installed in your system. If you installed Windows in any other partition, replace C: with the appropriate drive letter.
Alternatively you can directly open "System32" folder by running system32 command in RUN dialog box.
2. Once you open System32 folder, look for a file with the name utilman.exe. Before replacing the file, you'll need to take ownership of it.
You can take its ownership using following tutorial:
3. After taking ownership, rename the file to some other name such as utilman_bak.exe or any other desired name.
4. Now the final step. Copy cmd.exe file from same "System32" folder and paste in same folder. Windows will create a copy of cmd.exe with the name "cmd - Copy.exe". Rename it to utilman.exe and you have done.
5. Lock or log off and when you'll click on Ease of Access button at login screen, you'll get immediate access to Command Prompt.
You can replace it with any other desired program's EXE file as mentioned above. Just copy your desired program's EXE file from its folder and paste it in System32 folder. Following screenshot shows Solitaire game running at login screen:
You can also replace original utilman.exe file with Explorer.exe file and you'll get access to your Desktop and all at login screen. ;)
If you want to restore action of Ease of Access button, simply delete new utilman.exe file and rename the backup file of utilman to its original name utilman.exe.
So which program would you like to run at login screen using this trick? Feel free to share your feedback about this tutorial in your comment...
You can also use following Registry tweak to replace "Ease of Access" button at Login Screen with any other desired program:
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