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Wordle has a sneaky hard mode you might not know about

Here’s how you can turn it on and off

Mobile Games Photo Illustrations Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Wordle, the hit game where you guess a five-letter word, is everywhere now. The overnight success has seemingly taken over social media feeds and family group chats everywhere as people share their scores. Despite its popularity, there is something about it you might not know: It has a hard mode that you can turn off and on. So yes — there are technically two ways to play Wordle.

When you play for the first time, the game’s default settings have hard mode turned off. Hard mode doesn’t change the kinds of words you see, but changes what letters you can use to guess. When you play Wordle, you enter any five-letter word, and the game will give you hints depending on the word you guessed. A green letter means it’s the correct letter in the correct spot of the word of the day. A yellow letter means the letter appears in the final word, but it’s not in the right spot. Polygon published a guide of the words our own staff members start out with.

Under the normal rules of Wordle, you can guess any word at any time. In hard mode, you can use any word to start, but are then restricted on subsequent guesses by the hints. For example, if my first guess was “GAMES” and I got yellow tiles for the letters G, A, and S, then I would have to include those letters in my next guess. I couldn’t guess “VIDEO,” but I could guess “SAGGY,” since the word saggy contains the letters G, A, and S.

Depending on how you play Wordle, you might have been naturally playing it by the hard mode rules. It can seem like you’re more likely to guess the final word by incorporating all the previous guesses. However, if you already have three hints, playing this way means that you are only getting feedback on two letters at a time — so it makes it more difficult.

How to turn on Wordle’s hard mode

To enable hard mode, click on the settings icon (it looks like a gear) in the top right corner. That will pull up a screen that lists settings for the games. The first entry is “Hard Mode.” Click the button to the left of it to toggle the mode off and on. If it’s green, then it’s on. If you want to play around with it, no worries; you can enable or disable it at any point, even in the middle of a game between guesses.

a screenshot of a wordle game. there is an arrow on the screen pointing to the top right corner. Image: Wordle

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