Stupid Geek Tricks: How to Enable Windows 10’s Hidden Retail Demo Mode

If you click a word in Windows 10’s Settings app five times, it enables a hidden Retail Demo mode. You almost certainly don’t want to do this yourself, but knowing how to escape the Retail Demo Experience is essential if you ever see the name “Darrin DeYoung” on your login screen.

WARNING: Enabling this mode will erase all the personal files on your PC and reset it to factory default settings. Don’t do this on your home PC! (You probably shouldn’t even do this on any PC. We did it in a virtual machine.)

How to Enable the Retail Demo Experience

To enable Windows 10’s retail demo experience, head to Settings > Update & security > Activation. Click the “Windows” heading at the top of the page five times.

You’ll see a “Change to retail demo” window appear. Again, if you go through with this, all your personal files will be erased from your PC and it will be restored to its factory default settings. If you do want to go through with it, click “Change”. You’ll need to be connected to the Internet during this process.

You’ll see a screen asking you for your retail access code, retailer SKU, and retail store ID. You don’t need to provide any of these. They’re all optional, so you can just click “Next” and continue through the wizard.

When setting up Retail Demo Experience—or “RDX” mode—you’ll be asked when you want to remove access to the Administrator account. If you’re setting up Retail Demo Experience on a display PC in a retail store, this will give you some time to set up the PC how you like it before ensuring no customers can access the Administrator account. You can either select a number of days or provide an Administrator account password you can use for as long as you like.

When you’re done, click “Finish”. Your PC will restart and all your personal data and installed programs will be erased.

The process of enabling the Retail Demo Experience is handled by the Retail Demo service. In fact, if you delete the “RetailDemo” service and try switching to Retail Demo mode, you’ll be able to go through the wizard, but nothing will happen at the end. If the service is on your system, then your PC will reboot and enable Retail Demo mode.

What Is the Retail Demo Experience?

When your PC reboots into the Retail Demo mode, it will automatically sign into the Windows desktop. You’ll see that the user account’s name is “Darrin DeYoung”.

If you ever purchase a PC and see this person’s name when you boot it up, that PC is a display model and is still in Retail Demo mode. The store should have taken it out of Retail Demo mode before giving it to you, but you can do that yourself using the below instructions. On the other hand, if you were expecting a new-in-box PC and not one used as a display model, you may just want to return it to the store and get a replacement or your money back.

A Microsoft Retail Demo Provisioning application will appear and automatically set everything up.

When in Retail Demo mode, Windows will automatically launch the “Microsoft Demo Attract” app, which plays a video demo on a loop. If you leave it, you can use the “Microsoft Retail Demo” hub to read about Windows 10’s features. You can also click around the desktop and play with Windows 10. This is just a special mode designed to advertise Windows 10 in stores, after all.

How to Leave Retail Demo Mode

To leave the Retail Demo Experience, you just need to perform the same secret handshake that enables it in the first place. On the PC in Retail Demo Experience mode, head to Settings > Update & security > Activation and click the “Windows” heading five times.

Click the “Advanced configuration” button at the bottom of the “Get the latest demo content and apps” window that appears.

Click the “Remove” button to the right of Remove RDX on the Advanced RDX settings screen.

Warning: This will wipe your PC once again, erasing any personal files, removing any installed programs, and restoring it to factory default settings.

You may be prompted to enter the Administrator password if one was created during Retail Demo Experience setup. We hear that “trs10” works on many Windows 10 PCs, while “trs80” works on many Windows 8 PCs. This reportedly works across PCs at both Best Buy and the Microsoft Store, and perhaps even elsewhere.

After you tell Windows to remove the Retail Demo Experience from your computer, it will reboot and restore your PC to factory default settings. You’ll see the usual PC setup process, also known as the “Out of Box Experience”, which will allow you to configure your PC for normal use.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.