This wikiHow teaches you how to open and use the Windows Registry Editor, also known as “regedit”. The Registry Editor allows you to view and make changes to system files and programs that you wouldn’t be able to access otherwise. Incorrectly editing the Registry can permanently damage your computer, so it’s best to leave the Registry alone if you don’t know specifically what you need to do in it.
Opening the Registry Editor
2Type regedit into Start. This is the “Run” command for the Registry Editor.
3Click regedit. It’s the series of blue blocks at the top of the Start window.
4Click Yes when prompted. Doing so will open the Registry Editor window.
- If you aren’t an administrator on your current computer, you won’t be able to open the Registry Editor.
Backing up the Registry
1Click the Computer item. It’s the monitor-shaped icon at the top of the Registry sidebar, which is on the left side of the window. Doing so will select it.
- You may have to scroll up to the top of the sidebar to see this icon.
- This step will allow you to back up the entire Registry, but you can do this with a specific folder or set of folders in the Registry as well.
2Click File. This tab is in the top-left side of the Registry window. A drop-down menu will appear.
3Click Export…. It’s near the top of the drop-down menu. Doing so opens the Export Registry File window.
4Enter a name for your backup file. Type in the name for the backup. It’s wise to use the current date or something similarly identifying in case you need to restore the backup.
5Select a save location. Click a folder on the left side of the Export Registry File window to set it as the place where your backup will be saved, or click a folder in the middle of the window to specify a folder inside of your current location.
6Click Save. This button is at the bottom of the window. Doing so will export a copy of the Registry’s current settings, values, and other data. If something goes wrong with the Registry while you’re in it, you can restore this backup to fix minor to moderate errors.
- To restore a Registry backup, you’ll click the File tab, click Import… in the drop-down menu, and then select your Registry backup file.
- You should always make a new backup of the entire Registry before editing it.
1Click > next to Computer. This icon is to the left of the Computer icon you selected when making a backup. Doing so will “expand” the Computer folder, which displays the folders inside of it below the Computer icon.
- If Computer already shows several folders below it, it is already expanded.
2Review the built-in Registry folders. There will usually be five folders inside of the Computer folder:
3Click a Registry folder. Clicking any folder in the Registry Editor will display the folder’s contents in the right-hand panel of the Registry Editor.
- For example: if you click the HKEY_CURRENT_USER folder, you should see at least one icon on the right side of the page with the name (Default).
4Expand a Registry folder. Click the > icon to the left of a folder to expand it and view its contents. This will work for any folder in the Registry, regardless of where it is.
- You can also double-click folders to expand them.
- Some folders (e.g., HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT) contain hundreds of subfolders, meaning that expanding them will result in the left-hand sidebar becoming flooded with subfolders. The Registry can be hard to navigate when this happens, but all folders are arranged alphabetically.
5Review the toolbar items. These are in the upper-left side of the Registry Window, and include the following:
- File – Import or export a Registry file, or print a selected item.
- Edit – Change aspects of a selected Registry item, or create a new one.
- View – Enable or disable the Registry address bar (not all versions of Windows 10 have this feature). You can also view the binary data for a selected Registry item.
- Favorite – Add a selected Registry item to your computer’s Favorites folder.
- Help – View Microsoft’s help page for the Registry.
6Double-click a Registry folder’s item. You’ll find an icon with a red ab on it labeled (Default) in most Registry folders. Double-clicking it will open it for you to view its contents.
7Click Cancel. This will close your opened Registry item.
Creating and Deleting Registry Items
1Go to the folder in which you want to create an item. You can do this by expanding a folder, scrolling down to a subfolder, expanding it, and repeating as necessary until you reach the folder you’re looking for.
2Select the folder. Click the folder in which you want to create an item. This will select the folder, meaning that anything you create will be created inside of it.
3Click the Edit tab. It’s in the upper-left side of the window. Doing so prompts a drop-down menu.
4Select New. This option is near the top of the drop-down menu. A pop-out menu will appear next to the drop-down menu.
5Select the item you want to create. Click one of the following items:
- String Value – These are things that control system functions (e.g., keyboard speed or icon size).
- DWORD Value – DWORD values work with string values to dictate how certain system processes work.
- Key – A Registry “Key” is just a folder.
- There are several variations of DWORD values and string values that you might select depending on the instruction you’re given.
6Enter your item’s name. Type in a name for your DWORD, string value, or key, then press ↵ Enter. This will create your item in your specified location under the name you just entered.
- If you want to edit the item, you’ll have to double-click it to open its contents and then modify them as needed.
7Delete your Registry item. Keep in mind that doing this for any item other than the one you just created may permanently damage your computer. To delete a Registry item:
- Click the Registry item.
- Click Edit
- Click Delete
- Click OK when prompted.
8Exit the Registry Editor. Click the X in the top-right corner of the Registry Editor window. This will close the Registry Editor.